James Ford named North Carolina Teacher of the Year
Garinger High School teacher, James Ford, is the North Carolina Teacher of the Year. He teaches ninth-grade world history.
James Ford of Garinger High School is the 2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Ford is a ninth-grade world history teacher who began his career in Rockford Public Schools in Rockford, Illinois. He has been a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools since 2010.

The announcement was made today at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund luncheon in Cary, NC. See video of the surprise announcement.

“North Carolina’s teachers are valued professionals who are providing a critical service to future generations of students,” said John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

As North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Ford will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for more than 95,000 teachers in the state. Ford, one of 9,000 teachers in CMS, is the first CMS teacher to win the prestigious award in more than 40 years. A CMS teacher won the first state teacher award in 1970.

“My personal journey has been both long and unorthodox,” Ford said. “But in theFord end, I realize that it was my passion that ultimately led me to my purpose—education.”

Ford earned a bachelor of science in mass communication from Illinois State University in 2003 and a master’s degree in teaching from then-Rockford College in 2009. Ford is currently pursuing a degree in educational leadership from Wingate University. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Ford did not decide to become a teacher immediately after college but his jobs were always connected to young people. He worked as a truancy intervention specialist in high schools. He was also director of a teen center that provided educational and after-school activities for youth at risk of dropping out of school.

In addition to teaching world history, Ford is a co-leader of the peer mentoring program and the Garinger Cultural Festival. He was also the chair of the school’s teacher advisory council. He has served on the world history curriculum writing team, conducted workshops for world history teachers in CMS.

“Teaching is so much more than a job,” said Ford. “ I know without a shadow of a doubt that it has made me a better person and quite simply it is what I was born to do.”

In addition to his educational commitments, Ford volunteers at McCreesh Place by serving meals and assisting with recreational events and he is a member of the board of directors for Behailu Academy, an organization that works with youth in the arts.

“We are very proud of James Ford and his achievements, which illustrate why great teaching matters so much,” said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of CMS. “I am inspired by James’ passion, which is evident each time I visit his classroom and see him with his students. James is changing lives every day at Garinger through his teaching.”

Ford was named the CMS Teacher of the Year in May 2013. In December 2013, he was named the Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year. Prizes attached to the state award include the use of a leased vehicle for a year, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. He will also receive a mobile device from Lenovo valued at $1,600, a technology package valued at more than $11,000 from SMART Technologies, an engraved vase and a cash award of $7,500. He will also receive a trip to the National Teacher of the Year conference and International Space Camp.

Ford will also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years and as a board member for the NC Public School Forum for one year. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will sponsor his enrollment and completion of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.