Hoggard High School world history teacher Katie Snyder will compete for the North Carolina teacher of the year honor after she was named as the 2016 southeast regional teacher of the year by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
By winning the honor, Snyder will go against eight other regional winners for the title of state teacher of the year. She won the regional honor over teachers in 12 neighboring school districts that were also named teacher of the year.
Snyder’s accomplishment was announced during a Tuesday morning press conference at her school. Only Snyder didn’t know she was going to be informed about the honor. Instead, she thought she would be in a meeting with New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley, so she wore a nice dress instead of the casual attire that some teachers wear to work when students aren’t in school. When she entered the media center, Snyder was surprised with cheers from fellow teachers, school administrators and members of the board of education.
“It was a total surprise. I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Snyder said.
Snyder said that since she teaches a subject, world history, that students either love or hate, her job is to make the work enjoyable for her students.
“If they can understand history, and maybe kind of like it just a little bit, that’s what brings me back. Seeing that light bulb go off,” she said.
Snyder, who graduated from University of North Carolina Wilmington, has been a teacher for eight years, all of them in New Hanover County school system. She taught for one year at Laney High School before moving to Hoggard, where she’s taught for the past seven years. Among her accomplishments, Snyder said she helped create a mentoring program with other teachers at the school.
Snyder was nominated for the teacher of the year award by her colleagues at Hoggard. From there, she assembled a portfolio to present the panel of county educators that would select the teachers of the year award winners from the nominees. Her portfolio included a resume, details on community involvement, teaching philosophy and writing on the so-called “achievement gap” that can separate children from low-income families from other students.
“It made me have to articulate what I’m doing in the classroom,” Snyder said. “We know that we’re doing things right, but it’s sometimes hard to explain that to other people. Having to articulate why I have made a difference at Hoggard has been a significant experience that’s brought me closer to my colleagues.”
In June, Snyder was named the 2015-2016 New Hanover County high school teacher of the year and received the overall award for New Hanover County Schools teacher of the year.
One of Snyder’s colleagues who was there to congratulate her was Robin Hamilton, the 2015 southeast regional principal of the year.
Hamilton was on the panel that reviewed Snyder’s portfolio and interviewed her.
“She was stellar. She was so poised,” Hamilton said. “ You can tell that she loves what she does, it’s her passion.Her heart is in it 100 percent.”
One thing that stood out about Snyder was her international work, which included overseas teaching experiences in South Africa and Belize, Hamilton said.
“She’s global,” Hamilton said. “What she’s doing is bigger than just what’s here at Hoggard. It makes her such a great statewide candidate.”
Snyder said her experience teaching seventh graders in South Africa was “life changing.”
“It made me very appreciative of what we have,” Snyder said. “I was in a tiny room with 45 students and a chalk board and that’s what I used to teach.”