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Charter School Teacher of the Year Shares NCCAT Experience

Deborah Brown has taken part in NCCAT as a participant and presenter.

Deborah Brown, the 2017–2018 North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year, has been a participant and presenter at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a nationally recognized leader in teacher professional development. Mrs. Brown shared her thoughts below on her time at NCCAT. We appreciate her dedication to education and the chance we’ve had to work with her here at NCCAT.

Why do teachers need NCCAT? That’s an easy question: because the students of North Carolina need the best, and NCCAT helps teacher be their best. Perhaps the most important thing we can do to help students is to remember that teachers also need to be continuous learners. Not only do teachers need the chance to hone their skills, they need a place to connect with each other, and there’s simply no better place than NCCAT to bring together teachers and ideas that can have powerful impact on our classrooms.

The first NCCAT program I attended was transformational for me in rethinking the way I assigned work to my students, broke up the rhythm of my daily lessons in my classroom and helped my students deal with stress.

A few years later, I twice had the privilege of attending NCCAT. For the first session, I worked on developing the website for a student leadership program that is now used nationally and internationally, and, for the second session, I worked to develop a YouTube video channel that now hosts over 150 flipped lessons to support language arts instruction. This channel now has nearly 2,000 subscribers and is approaching a half million views from all around the world, showing just how far NCCAT’s impact can reach.

Perhaps the most transformational of my NCCAT experiences has been, not the programs I attended, but the ones I have had the privilege to design and lead. One of the mythologies of charter schools is that they draw resources from the county schools, but the mission of charters is actually to innovate and to share out successes—to share with the schools in North Carolina lessons learned and best practices. At Research Triangle High School, we have been able to share our experiences with digital learning, flipping, 1x1 environments, project-based learning and personalized learning with classroom teachers from all over the state. Evaluation forms from these programs have included quotes about teachers leaving NCCAT with fresh tools and reinvigorated outlooks, not only for their classrooms but for the whole profession. One participant even mentioned that she had been planning to leave the classroom at the end that school year, but that after attending one of our NCCAT sessions, she was recommitting to the teaching profession.

You would want your doctor trained in the most updated research and surgical techniques, and you would want your airplane pilot well rested. Yet people tasked with the most important jobs of teaching our children seldom get those opportunities to grow. NCCAT provides a place where “a rising tide can lift all boats,” giving teachers a chance to share best practices, connect with each other and return to their classrooms ready to help all their students reach their potential.


Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit or call 828-293-5202.

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