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Cabarrus Magazine

2018 EC Teacher of Excellence Awarded to Hickory Ridge High School Educator

Nov 09, 2018 10:09AM ● By Melanie Heisinger
Hickory Ridge High School (HRHS) EC teacher Sara Lamb was recently awarded the 2018 Cabarrus County Schools Exceptional Children Teacher of Excellence. Lamb was nominated by HRHS Principal Dr. Shaun Poole and Assistant Principal Tina Graves.

Lamb's passion for education is so strong, we wanted to learn even more about her. She took the time to answer a few questions for us, and reveals how her life-long passion for teaching has lead her here. 

Have you always had a passion for teaching?

I can remember playing Teacher as a little girl with my sister and friends, but it was not in my plans when I graduated from high school to become a Teacher. I knew that I wanted to help people, but I thought that I was going to become an Occupational Therapist. Occupational Therapy is a Masters Degree and there is no pre-OT as an Undergraduate degree. After speaking with my Counselor at East Carolina University, I decided to study Special Education. As a part of my Undergraduate degree, I got to student teach in many counties around NC in different grade levels and different settings. I am certified as a K-12 EC Teacher, but high school has definitely been my favorite. I feel that high school students are in a tough time in their lives with figuring out who they are and as a student with disabilities, they have a hard time fitting in. I love helping them find who they are and helping them accept themselves. This is a tough time for parents as well. They have now realized that their student is different, but that they can go on and be successful. 

My 1st year of teaching was at Havelock High School in a self-contained cross categorical class. The next year, my husband and I moved to Cary, NC and I began teaching at Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, NC in the Occupational Course of Study Program. I loved the OCS Program so much that when my husband and I moved to Charlotte, NC for his job in January 2016, I took a job at Hickory Ridge High school as an OCS Teacher again.

The Occupational Course of Study Program is for students with disabilities that provides them job skills training and academic rigor so that they can be productive citizens when they graduate from high school.We still do English 1-4, Math that includes Algebra and Financial Management, Science that includes Biology, American History, and Career Technical Education classes like everyone else. We also teach these students social skills, employability skills and organization. These students can go on to a Community College or right into the work force.

Every student that has graduated from the HRHS OCS Program since I have been there has graduated and either become employed or gone on to continue their education at a Community College. I am so proud of all of these students! 

What's something you've implemented into your work that you think has contributed to your success?

Hickory Ridge High School and Cabarrus County Schools have provided me with many great opportunities that have lead me to become a better leader. I am a part of the Cabarrus County Schools Teacher Leadership Cohort, the Mentor/Mentee Program, and the School Improvement Team at HRHS. My coworkers, especially my EC Lead, Lisa Kirby and my Teacher Assistant, Kay Parker have helped me grow so much in the past 3 years as a Teacher and I could not do what I do without them. They help me provide consistency, organization and clear expectations to my classroom which I believe are key.

I spend many hours after school most days in my classroom because there is no way that this job can be done in 8 hours a day. Luckily I do not have kids yet and my husband spends just as much time at work. Our house is a mess! My students and their parents make it worth it though!

I am also a Swim Instructor for Swim MAC Swim School in Huntersville. I have worked there since I was 16 years old. I teach there in the summers and after school during the school year. I have recently cut my schedule back to 1 day a week so that I can dedicate more time to my classroom at HRHS. I do private lessons for students with disabilities. I have had quite a few successes with students who have Autism that began with a fear of the water and now won't stay above the water.      

Tell us a little bit about being named EC Teacher of the Year (and congratulations!). What has that been like?

As EC Educator of Excellence, I get to attend the North Carolina Exceptional Children's Conference in Greensboro November 14th-16th. I will be recognized along with the other EC Educators of Excellence from each county in NC on November 15th. We will get to attend many workshops while at the conference. 

What goals do you have for the future?

As far as my future goals, my plan is to get a Masters Degree in School Administration, Educational Leadership. I would like to become an Administrator so that I can reach more students and help other teachers. 

Congratulations, Sara! Thank you for your amazing work with the youth in our community. 

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