CHCCS Teacher of the Year empowers students

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

Kim Fearrington said that she was shaking in her boots when she was named the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Teacher of the Year.

“I was honored. Just to be one of the final three was an honor,” Fearrington said. “It’s an honor to represent the district. I’m still on a high.”
Fearrington received $1,000 from Harrington Bank and gifts from area businesses for her award.
“Kim demonstrates each day the growth mind-set for her students,” said Cheryl Carnahan, principal of Northside Elementary. “She is the educator that every principal and parent would want for their students.”
Fearrington spent her first 19 years in education teaching second- and third-graders at Carrboro Elementary. She’s spent the last year at the newly opened Northside Elementary with her kindergartners.
Like some others who have gone into education, teaching was initially an interest but not a mapped out career path.
“I was interested in education but I didn’t have a love for it,” she said. “I thought I really loved technology.”
Fearrington said she thought she loved technology so much that she began her time at N.C. Central University as a computer technology major.
She said that she officially changed her major during her sophomore year after spending eight hours writing a computer program just to find out that a missing semicolon was keeping her program from working properly.
Fearrington said that she hasn’t looked back since.
“Just watching the kids grow and truly understand the material and say, ‘I know this,’ ‘I’ve mastered this,’ and ‘I can do this,’ it’s amazing,” Fearrington said. “As we move through the year, they can see their progress.
“To see that knowledge soar and just go, it’s amazing,” she said. “They can rise to the challenge and they do.”
Fearrington explained that her students come to her with varying skill levels and that she has to meet them where they are to ensure they are prepared for the next grade level.
“Kindergartners now are beyond the first-graders I had years ago,” she said. “As the expectations rise and the ante moves up, they just do it. You have to pump them up from the beginning.
“It’s so exciting to see,” said Fearrington. “Oftentimes I tell parents, ‘Let me do my job and we’ll get your child where they need to be.’”
Part of helping her kids succeed is working with fourth- and fifth-graders during summer school.
“It really helps me see how we’re building everything and it makes it easier to start to plug in the gaps where they’re having problems,” she said.
Fearrington also spends time formally and informally mentoring budding and current teachers.
Of her student teachers, Fearrington said that she “wants them to be involved from day one. I want them to start holding the kids accountable.”
Even though she gets to wear many hats as a kindergarten teacher, including psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse and mommy, Fearrington said that her favorite part of the job is not knowing how her students will surprise her next.
“It’s the unexpected,” she said. “I honestly feel like [kindergarten education is] the foundation. When they get it and that light goes off, it’s amazing.”