Andrea Gladden named Burke’s Teacher of the Year

East Burke Middle’s Andrea Gladden named Burke’s Teacher of the Year
Posted on 05/21/2020
Morganton, NC – Thursday, May 21, 2020

Andrea Gladden, Project Lead the Way teacher at East Burke Middle School, has been named the Burke County Public Schools 2020 teacher of the year. Gladden is in her 18th year of teaching and her second year at East Burke Middle. She previously taught fifth grade at Icard Elementary School for 16 years.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam and Director of Secondary Education Felicia Simmons surprised Gladden with the announcement on Wednesday at her home. Normally, the surprise announcement would have taken place at school in Gladden’s classroom, but schools were closed due to COVID-19 in mid March before Burke County Public Schools could complete its teacher of the year process.

Each school in the district selected a teacher of the year. The school-level recipients submitted a written portfolio and videos in which they talked about teacher leadership, student-centered classrooms, accountability and their platform as teacher of the year. As is normal procedure, a committee reviewed the portfolios and videos and selected finalists for an interview. This year, the interviews had to be done remotely via Zoom.

In addition to balloons and roses, Gladden was surprised with a brand new Jeep Compass from John Greene Chrysler Dodge Jeep to drive for one year. Gladden’s husband, Tommy, the warehouse supervisor for Burke County Public Schools, was in on the surprise, driving the Jeep Compass and leading the caravan to the couple’s front door.

Putnam said Gladden is well deserving of the honor. “Mrs. Gladden is a passionate and creative teacher who puts students first and makes learning overall and engineering concepts specifically exciting. Whether she is teaching a lesson, coaching her students at an engineering competition or helping them build a model of a tiny house, Mrs. Gladden is her students’ biggest cheerleader. We are honored that she is representing Burke County as our teacher of the year.”

Simmons said, “Mrs. Gladden has a way of putting students at ease and making engineering less intimidating. She truly wishes to see her students reach their potential and learn beyond what they think they are capable of learning and doing.”

As a Project Lead The Way/Career and Technical Education teacher, Gladden exposes her students to engineering concepts and hands-on learning focussed on real-world skills. She teaches design and modeling, energy and the environment, and automation and robotics.

She said, “Skills learned in my class prepare students for their world after graduation. This is a crucial time in each child’s life where they are forming perceptions of who they want to become later in life. Students thrive in my student-centered PLTW class because of the fail safe environment I provide. Students learn through their failures which is a skill they will need in the future.”

Outside of the classroom, Gladden accompanies her students on industry tours, leads a female math and science club, and coaches students in the Morganton Arts, Design, and Engineering (MADE) Competition, Gravity Games and robotics. She said she enjoys it when students enthusiastically showcase their work and talents to the community, which strengthens the schools’ relationship with the community and business partners.

Gladden received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University, is licensed in technology and academically and intellectually gifted and is a National Board Certified teacher. Additional awards and recognitions for Gladden include scholarship recipient for the North Carolina Science Teacher Association Conference, accepted to the Duke Energy Literacy Fellows Program, two-time state finalist for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, scholarship recipient of the STEM Connection Think Tank and Conference, accepted to the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, Liberty Science Center and named North Carolina Science Teachers Association Outstanding Elementary School Science Teaching Award for District 7.

Gladden said she knew she wanted to be a teacher by fifth grade. After having a bad experience with a teacher, she experienced a nurturing teacher with a heart for children and a passion for science who instilled in her a love for education. Gladden called her the “driving force behind why I do what I do everyday. She fostered in me that same hardworking and driven desire to help every student I encounter, whether they are mine or not, to overcome the obstacles of this world and to follow their dreams.”

Gladden is now eligible for the regional teacher of the year.
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