Amber Peterson named Teacher of the Year

WA Young’s Amber Peterson named Teacher of the Year
Posted on 04/03/2023
Morganton, NC – Friday, March 31, 2023

Amber Peterson, a third grade teacher at W.A. Young Elementary School, has been named Burke County Public Schools 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year. Peterson is in her 15th year of teaching elementary school and has spent her entire career at W.A. Young, including as a substitute teacher. A graduate of UNC-Asheville, Peterson was a NC Teaching Fellow and has taught all elementary school grades except for first and fifth. 

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Karen Auton and Director of Elementary Education Dr. Brett Wilson surprised Peterson with the announcement, balloons and flowers on Friday morning in her classroom at the school. Peterson will also receive a vehicle to drive for a year at the April 17 meeting of the Board of Education.

Swan said Peterson is well deserving of the honor. He said, “Mrs. Peterson has a passion and enthusiasm for education as a whole and her students individually. She understands the importance of building relationships and rapport with students, parents and fellow teachers. She has a true love for children and wants the best for them and does her best to instill in them the importance of an education. Congratulations to Mrs. Peterson on this honor, and we know you will represent Burke County well.”

Originally from Morganton, Peterson grew up in the W.A. Young community and says the school “stole my heart from the very first day as a substitute.” In reflecting back over her 15 years of teaching, Petersons said she has seen many changes, including going from overhead projectors to document cameras and from Smartboards to 1:1 devices and Apple TVs, not to mention from face-to-face learning to remote and hybrid during the COVID years.

She said, “Most recently, I have had the opportunities to co-teach and serve as a student teaching mentor. Each of these shifts have shaped and developed me into the teacher I am today. Each of them are a part of my story. I am still as animated and as committed as I was in the spring of 2008, but these transitions have developed levels of perseverance and discernment that I had initially not expected would be as necessary as they are on a daily basis within my classroom.”

Peterson believes education is the No. 1 way out of poverty for students. She said, “It is my mission and calling to serve my community as a teacher. The belief of doing small things well and setting high expectations for students to achieve with support and guidance in all areas, not just academics, drives my teaching philosophy. ‘Growing as a citizen’ is a phrase I use often with my students and is my ultimate goal for each and every one of them.”
Peterson advises new teachers to pay attention to students’ needs. She said, “Sometimes an emotional or physical need must take precedence over being five minutes late beginning a lesson. Attending to a student’s need for encouragement or empowerment will lead a student to attempt any task you set before them. Encouragement fosters the belief that one can accomplish anything, and that is what fosters not only academic growth, but the growth of a person. After all, isn’t growing people what the education field is really all about?”

Peterson has a bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology with a K-6 licensure, has her AIG licensure and is the recipient of several Bright Ideas Touchstone Energies grants. In 2009 she was the district’s First Year Teacher of the Year and in 2014 she was the district’s Elementary Teacher.   

Peterson is married to Josh Peterson, a teacher at McDowell Early College, and they have a 9-year-old and 5-year-old. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, reading and teaching in her church. 

In addition to Peterson,  each schools’ individual teacher of the year will be recognized at the April 17 board meeting. The school teachers of the year are:

Burke Virtual Academy - Brittany Buchanan
Draughn High School - Emily Propst
Drexel Elementary School - Michael Steele
East Burke High School - Sabrina Baker
East Burke Middle School - Matthew Childers
Forest Hill Elementary School - Hannah Johnson
Freedom High School - Trina Hines
George Hildebrand Elementary School  - Stacey Springall
Glen Alpine Elementary School - Anna Koon
Hallyburton Academy - Ashley St. Louis
Heritage Middle School - Timothy Gallagher
Hildebran Elementary School - Lula Davis
Hillcrest Elementary School - PennyWiseman 
Icard Elementary School - Nikki Stamey
Liberty Middle School - Megan Lloyd
Mull Elementary School - Angela Anders
Mountain View Elementary School - Margaret Marriott 
North Liberty School - Lori Wheeler
Oak Hill Elementary School - Mandi Palmer
Patton High School - Dawn Baker
Ray Childers Elementary School - Lori Vestal
Salem Elementary School - Kasey Miller
Table Rock Middle School - Lindsey Chapman
Valdese Elementary School - Lisa Blalock
W.A. Young Elementary School - Amber Peterson
Walter Johnson Middle School - Kim Cotter
In compliance with federal law, Burke County Public Schools administers all educational programs, employment activities, and admissions without discrimination against any person based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.