A Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools teacher received the highest honor in North Carolina education Friday afternoon, in recognition of her work inside and outside the classroom.

Eugenia Floyd, a fourth-grade teacher at Mary Scroggs Elementary School, was named the 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year out of nine finalists and hundreds of well-loved teachers across the state. Floyd was the school district’s Teacher of the Year last year.

“Not only do I want to make sure I teach my students material that can connect to the world around us,” Floyd said in a press release, “but I also want them to be able to use what they have learned in order to make themselves and the world a better place. … When students are able to connect to their lives and world around them, learning will most definitely happen and stick.”

Floyd, an alumna of CHCCS, attributes her teaching style to her own childhood. She says her teachers tended to have low expectations of her, which was likely rooted in beliefs about the potential of Black girls. She uses her own experiences to teach a unit on social issues, from classroom bullying to racism and sexism in society.

Floyd also has started meeting students where they are—literally. She began a neighborhood tutoring project after helping her own students with math and reading skills. This eventually brought her to the apartment complexes where some of her students live, and the tutoring has transformed into a three-neighborhood project with kids of all ages. Three times a week, she packs some supplies and meets students at their bus stop to offer help with homework or end-of-grade tests. It’s made her a teacher to more than just her own students but to others, including middle school students who need an extra hand.  

Her equity-driven approach seems to have measurable success: her students consistently show high growth over the previous year on state reading and math tests.

“As a teacher, I strive to make sure my behavior and academic expectations are high for my students,” Floyd said in her Teacher of the Year submission. “I am a true believer that students will do what you expect them to do.”

The honor comes with cash prizes, a new leased car, some new tech, and a few trips. Floyd also will serve as an advisor on the State Board of Education for two years and as a member of the state’s Public School Forum.

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