Cece Sizoo-Roberson has been named the Southwest Region Teacher of the Year. Sizoo-Roberson was named CMS Teacher of the Year in May. She will now move on to compete for state teacher of the year.
"We are thrilled, but not surprised, that Ms. S-R has received this honor," said Superintendent Earnest Winston. "She is an inspiring educator who makes a lasting impact on each of her students. I could not be prouder of the work she does each day."
Sizoo-Roberson was surprised by the current North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Maureen Stover, at Piedmont on Dec. 18. Her parents also attended the surprise.
Sizoo-Roberson teaches Math 8, 1 and 2 at Piedmont IB Middle. This is her fourth year at Piedmont; she previously taught at James Martin Middle for five years. She coaches volleyball and soccer and assists with the basketball team. "I love being involved in what the kids love," she said. "Kids shine in things they are passionate about. I love to see them in their element."
The daughter of two Presbyterian ministers, Sizoo-Roberson learned about service and education from an early age. "There are definitely some similarities," she said. Her family moved from Portland, o to Charlotte, and she attended Jay M. Robinson Middle, Providence High and Ardrey Kell High. She graduated from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where she majored in religious studies with a minor in education.
Every semester, Sizoo-Roberson would choose her classes and found herself drawn to becoming an educator. "I think my family knew this is what I would end up doing," she said. "But they didn't push me. They let me explore and figure out that is what I need to be doing."
As a student, math was a challenge for Sizoo-Roberson. She decided to teach math to help students who also struggle. "One of the things I love about math is that it is socially acceptable for a student to say, 'I can't do math.' I love being able to show them that they can. They just haven't had the opportunity."
Before the district transitioned to online learning, Sizoo-Roberson and her students joked about her struggles with technology. "I am only 30," she said. "I should be better at this. My students know that I am pretty old-fashioned, so doing Zoom meetings was a little outside my comfort zone. I am learning as they are. They reached out to me to celebrate when I got 28 YouTube followers."
She has been encouraged by the strong work ethic of her students. "Sometimes, I hop on a Zoom just to work through one math problem," she said. "The kids know this is what Piedmont expects of them. We support them. They know that they can take intellectual risks and we will be there to support them."
Sizoo-Roberson has been recording videos for her students, hosting Zoom meetings for groups and individuals, handling questions and using Canvas data to try to understand where her students need help. She marks up PDF documents so students can see her notes.
"As teachers, we always tell kids that learning is a lifelong process," she said. "In practice, we do the same things all the time. This is a fun opportunity where kids watch us and live what we have been saying to them their whole lives. They're learning critical thinking skills and how to adjust to any bizarre circumstances they may come across."