And the winner is…

His smile says it all: James Ford won the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year award at a ceremony at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology.

There were five other finalists: Lysa Craig of Bailey Middle; Kevin Eudy of Renaissance School at Olympic; Ashley Brooke Fulton of University Park Creative Arts Academy; Bobby Miles of Ranson IB Middle and Doug Smith of McKee Road Elementary.

“It feels really good,” said Ford of the recognition. “It is a celebration for all teachers, not one individual teacher over another.”

A ninth-grade world history teacher, Ford began his career in the Rockford (Illinois) Public Schools in 2009 and moved to CMS in 2010. In addition to teaching world history, Ford is a co-leader of the peer mentoring program and the Garinger Cultural Festival.

To see a video interview with Ford, click here.

Kondra Rattley, principal at Garinger, said, “Mr. Ford is an outstanding teacher whose strongest quality is his reflective practice. He constantly gauges his impact on his students and the broader community.”

Ford’s essay on his most successful lesson this year impressed the judges. The lesson was called “Why Does History Matter?”  Students learn that history is not just dead people and dates, but information used every day to make decisions.

James is totally well rounded and the total package,” said Candy Hayes, chairperson for the Teacher of the Year selection committee. “He has a good perspective on realizing where we’ve been, where we are and where we need to go in terms of kids in education. You can see he has a great appreciation for his place. I would love to be in his class.”

CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison presented Ford with a certificate, a basket of prizes and the keys to a new 2013 Volkswagen Jetta, which Ford will have for a year. Keffer Volkswagen of Huntersville has made a three-year commitment to give a one-year lease to the Teacher of the Year Award winners.

When he found out that the Volkswagen was part of winning, Ford was shocked.

“I almost passed out,” Ford said. “I felt my legs giving out. I looked at my wife and my kids, they were going berserk.”

Ford now goes on to the regional level Teacher of the Year competition. He will be competing against teachers of the year from Cleveland, Lincoln, Gaston, Cabarrus, Stanly, Union and Anson counties.