Lake Norman Elementary teacher Bethany Orr was named the I-SS Teacher of the Year for 2019.
'Extraordinary' Lake Norman Elementary teacher honored as I-SS Teacher of the Year
BY KARISSA MILLER
A veteran educator who has been described as “extraordinary” and who embodies what it means to put students first has been named the Iredell-Statesville Schools Teacher of the Year for 2019.
Bethany Orr, a fourt-grade teacher at Lake Norman Elementary School, began her teaching career more than two decades ago. She has taught at Lake Norman for more than 15 years.
Orr was humbled and surprised when she heard the announcement at the Unity Center in Statesville a few weeks ago.
“I was thrilled to be chosen to represent the great teachers of Iredell-Statesville Schools. It also reaffirmed the hard work that I put in every day to be the best teacher that I can be is also recognized by the teachers at my school and the administration in I-SS,” Orr said.
“The best part about the day that I received the award was they snuck my husband into the Unity Center for the Teacher of the Year celebration,” she added.
The support of her family has been instrumental in her professional development, Orr said.
Orr lives in Mooresville with her husband Joe and daughter Jessica. Her son Tanner attend N.C. State University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan.
A native of Massachusetts, Orr earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts and master’s degree in School Counseling from Boston University.
Johnson said Orr knows her children — their strengths and weaknesses — in great detail.
“Ms. Orr is an extraordinary teacher. I’ve seen her engage kids and she is a teacher that is 100 percent focused on her children individually,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t take her long to diagnostically determine where their strengths are. She’ll build lessons to accelerate and build upon their skills. If students have a learning gap, she’ll customize a lesson to close that gap. She takes the teaching profession to a high level of engagement.
“She knows what it means to be a professional teacher,” the superintendent added.
Orr also has demonstrated an ability to build meaningful relationships with those around her, including her students, their parents or other teachers that she is mentoring.
In most elementary school classroom teachers are generalists and deliver instruction in all subject matters – except PE and music.
At Lake Norman, fourth- and fifth-grade students take part in a nontraditional format typically used in middle and high schools known as departmentalized instruction.
“Instead of teaching 25 students, I teach 75 students,” Orr explained. “I really get to focus more deeply in my lesson plans for math.”
Orr models her classroom after her favorite elementary school teacher, Ms. Durrell.
“She was the first one that I remember who differentiated learning for us. During our math time, she had the rug group and the table group. I remember enjoying some small group time with her each day. I felt that she really was able to give individualized attention when we were in small group,” Orr said.
Finding new and innovative ways to reach every child is a constant passion of hers.
“I’m always evaluating the needs of my students to see how I can best help them grow. Whether it’s a new form of technology, a new approach to learning, a new teaching strategy, a new form of intervention … I’m willing to take the time to learn and implement it fully,” she explained.
As the Teacher of the Year, Orr will serve as a member of the district’s administrative team, alongside the district’s Principal of the Year. During monthly meetings, she’ll be asked to provide a teacher’s perspective on the issues the district is working to address.