CHARLOTTE, N.C. - James Ford of Garinger High School is the 2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year.
Ford is a ninth-grade world history teacher who began his career in Rockford Public Schools in Rockford, Ill. He has been a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools since 2010.
The announcement was made Thursday at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund luncheon in Cary, N.C.
"North Carolina's teachers are valued professionals who are providing a critical service to future generations of students," said John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
As North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Ford will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for more than 95,000 teachers in the state. Ford, one of 9,000 teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is the first CMS teacher to win the prestigious award in more than 40 years. A CMS teacher won the first state teacher award in 1970.
"My personal journey has been both long and unorthodox," Ford said. "But in the end, I realize that it was my passion that ultimately led me to my purpose-education."
In addition to teaching world history, Ford is a co-leader of the peer mentoring program and the Garinger Cultural Festival. He was also the chair of the school's teacher advisory council. He has served on the world history curriculum writing team, conducted workshops for world history teachers in CMS.
"Teaching is so much more than a job," said Ford. "I know without a shadow of a doubt that it has made me a better person and quite simply it is what I was born to do."
"We are very proud of James Ford and his achievements, which illustrate why great teaching matters so much," said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of CMS. "I am inspired by James' passion, which is evident each time I visit his classroom and see him with his students. James is changing lives every day at Garinger through his teaching."
Ford was named the CMS Teacher of the Year in May 2013. In December 2013, he was named the Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year. Prizes attached to the state award include the use of a leased vehicle for a year, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. He will also receive a mobile device from Lenovo valued at $1,600, a technology package valued at more than $11,000 from SMART Technologies, an engraved vase and a cash award of $7,500. He will also receive a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference and International Space Camp.