PIKEVILLE – Northwest Elementary art teacher, Sarah Irick, has been named the North Carolina Center For The Advancement Of Teaching (NCCAT) 2024 Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year for Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS). The surprise announcement for the second-year teacher, along with a presentation of balloons and a sign, was made by the WCPS superintendent and Human Resources Department at a staff meeting.“Ms. Irick evidences a strong work ethic, coupled with excellent classroom management and an uncanny ability to develop positive relationships with her students,” states Sheila Wolfe, principal. “She is truly an asset to our students, our school, and our community.” The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year program was developed to honor beginning teachers and to retain teachers who show promise as excellent teachers and education leaders in North Carolina public schools and public charter schools. Ms. Irick will now compete against other beginning teachers from across the state who were also named a NCCAT Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year by their school district or charter school. Finalists in the NCCAT program will be named in December. “We congratulate Ms. Irick for receiving this special NCCAT recognition and wish her the very best as she moves on to the next stage of the awards program,” states Dr. Marc Whichard, Superintendent. The Wayne County Board of Education will recognize Ms. Irick for her achievement at its November 6 meeting.