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NCCAT Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year Finalists

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Twenty-seven teachers across North Carolina have been selected as finalists for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year Award for their dedication, innovation, and ability to inspire students to achieve.

One of these talented educators will be named the 2023 NCCAT Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year. The award will be presented on March 9, 2023, at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

“We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award,” said NCCAT Executive Director M. Brock Womble. “These finalists provide a snapshot of great teachers' lasting impact on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for their important work in our state.”

The 2023 NCCAT North Carolina Beginning Teachers of the Year are:

Alexis Allred, Jackson County

Madison (Maddie) Baker, Catawba County

Ratasha Benton-Manley, Northampton County

Christian Boletchek, Roanoke Rapids

Izabella Botello, Iredell-Statesville

Karen Cardillo, Carolina Charter Academy

Jerico Carrillo, Guilford County

Katelyn Clarke, Pitt County

Breeana (Bree) Clayton, Henderson County

Jamie Conley, Brevard Academy

Kbira Filali, Pender County

Hannah Fitta, New Hanover

Kirby Forbes, Lee County

Samantha Fortner, Mitchell County

Kenna Gautier, Clinton City Schools

Emily Giardina, Chapel Hill Carrboro

Ariana Hunter, Rutherford County

Goodin Huss, Hoke County

Tonya McGill, Cumberland County

Natalia Mejia, Cabarrus County

Sabrina Moore, Mount Airy City

Gabe Patton, Johnston County

Darbie Rash, Ashe County

Nancy (Beth) Rose, Wayne County

Maria Sutton, Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (NEAAT)

Amber White, Rowan Salisbury

Carly Wright, Thomasville City Schools

The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year will receive:

  • $5,000 cash prize
  • Participation for the winner in a GoGlobal NC trip in 2024
  • Instructional supply funds for the teacher's school


  • $2,000 cash prize

       Finalists will receive

  • Travel expenses and substitute costs for regional finalists to participate at NCCAT.
  • More information about the program is online at


NCCAT supports teachers and impacts students with high-quality professional development. 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.