JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Kayla Anderson, a third-grade teacher at Meadow View Elementary School, has been named the 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year by Onslow County Schools.

Anderson, who was named in a surprise announcement at the inaugural Excellence in Education event, is a 4-year educator who started with Onslow County Schools in 2018. She holds a bachelor of fine arts in creative writing and a master’s in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Though the first four years of her career brought many challenges, Anderson has maintained positivity and a passion for advocating for students. She said that she believes in the power of student voices and strives to keep child-centered conversations and child-centered solutions at the forefront of her work in and out of the classroom.

When asked what she considered to be a major issue facing public education today, Anderson shared that she reflected on how rarely that question is asked of students.

Kayla Anderson and Meadow View Elementary School Principal Kelly Clarke (Onslow County Schools)

“As a third-grade teacher, I am surrounded by 18 dynamic and high-spirited 9-year-olds for much of the week,” she said, “all of whom would jump at the chance to express what is meaningful to them, therefore, I invited them to do so.”

She said that her students did not share concerns over funding, access to resources, or instructional materials. The children expressed how school reminds them of their friends, how school is a place they have access to food, and how school is a place they feel safe. This exercise, Anderson said, emphasized how important it is to keep children at the center of all we do in education. She wishes to see more adults begin every discussion with the question “How does this best benefit students?”

Through her work with the Energy Bus program at MVES and her classroom experiences, Anderson has found purpose in building relationships, encouraging positivity in her students, and advocating for children.

As part of the next step in her journey as an educator, Anderson is currently pursuing a master’s degree
in counselor education at East Carolina University.

“I plan to champion for these budding changemakers, who are old enough to manifest bright dreams,
yet young enough to hold the magic needed to fuel them.”

The OCS TOY Committee is led by Dr. Beth Folger, Deputy Superintendent, and includes the previous
OCS Teacher of the Year and last year’s Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year, as well as a
community member and other district staff. The committee reviewed portfolios of all teachers selected
by their schools as their TOY. Interviews were conducted with the top 10 semi-finalists. Following the interviews, the committee narrowed the field to five finalists and conducted classroom observations to determine who would be the 2022-2023 TOY.

Next, Anderson will go on to compete at the regional level. Winners at the regional level will compete
for North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

TOY top five finalists included:
Alec Aguiar, Coastal Elementary School
Heather Moore, Dixon High School
Dana Quigg, Jacksonville Commons Elementary School
Kayla Anderson, Meadow View Elementary School
Tiffany Rhodes, Richlands High School
2022-2023 School-Level Teachers of the Year
Each school in the district completed the process of selecting its Teacher of the Year. The winners, chosen by their peers, are nominated to compete for the honor of Onslow County School’s Teacher of the Year.

Morgan Drye Bell Fork Elementary
Ebonie Brownlee Blue Creek Elementary
Emily Truelove Carolina Forest Elementary
Heather Waters Clyde Erwin Elementary
Alec Aguiar Coastal Elementary
Beth Martinez Dixon Elementary
Heather Moore Dixon High
Amanda Gooler Dixon Middle
Jacqueline Sharpe Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center
Georganna Bryan Heritage Elementary
Lauren King Hunters Creek Elementary
Shayna Hines Hunters Creek Middle
Dana Quigg Jacksonville Commons Elementary
Letishia Chapman Jacksonville Commons Middle
Amy York Jacksonville High
Kayla Anderson Meadow View Elementary
Katherine Robinson Morton Elementary
Peggy Pullicino New Bridge Middle
Melissa Bourgeois Northside High
Lisa Cherubini Northwoods Elementary
Heather Shannon Northwoods Park Middle
Twila Johnson Onslow County Learning Center
Rebecca Huggins Onslow Early College High School
Paula Forrester Onslow Virtual Elementary School
Sarah Edwards Onslow Virtual Secondary School
Shasta Baker Parkwood Elementary
Felicia Hasteadt Queens Creek Elementary
Tiffany Melendez Richlands Elementary
Tiffany Rhodes Richlands High
Dana Rivera Sand Ridge Elementary
Leilani Akins Silverdale Elementary
Lindsey Arrington Southwest Elementary
Jaimie Hall Southwest High
Curtis Conner Southwest Middle
Megan Batchelor Stateside Elementary
Ashlyn Baker Summersill Elementary
Amber Kollar Swansboro Elementary
Barbara Shedd Swansboro High
Sean Trees Swansboro Middle
Latoya Hill Thompson Early Childhood Center
Tara Burgess Trexler Middle
Kelly Dillman White Oak High