A confidence builder: Teacher of the year in running for state award

Published 2:54 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

“Mr. Marrs is the first teacher who has had any confidence in me to do anything.”

That’s a pretty deep statement, made without provocation by a Davie High School student who was on the verge of dropping out of school.

She meant it.

And Mr. Marrs – Will Marrs, a career technical education teacher – was recently named the Piedmont Triad District teacher of the year, and is in the running for the state title. He is the first teacher from Davie schools to earn this honor.

School officials tried to surprise Marrs with the announcement at a school-wide assembly before the Christmas break, but he got word about 20 minutes before it was set to start.

Still, it was a rousing celebration with the band, dance squad and cheerleaders.

Principal Michael Pruitt started by listing some of the accomplishments of the school and its students:

• the competition cheerleading team had just won a world championship;

• the tennis team won the conference title for the third time;

• the band has been invited to compete for the President’s Cup in Washington, D.C.;

• the advanced placement program earned a spot on the national honor roll for high schools;

• 2023 was the highest graduation rate in the school’s history; and

• Davie High was named one of America’s Best High Schools by the US News & World Report.

“Our school showed growth. Our students took their knowledge and went above and beyond in every  group. You all have established yourself as the best of the best high schools in the United States,” Pruitt said.

That means that teachers are doing their jobs, including Marrs.

Davie’s teacher of the year was introduced by Kimberly Jones, North Carolina’s reigning teacher of the year, who first spoke to students.

“You represent the very best in North Carolina education,” she said. “You stand out as one of the 1.5 million students in North Carolina public schools and you are served by some of the most exceptional of the 93,000 teachers who work and serve in North Carolina’s public schools.

“You all have already established yourselves as the best of the best, and among you exists a teacher who exists among the 0.001% of teachers in North Carolina.”

She quoted school administrators about Marrs: “This teacher is solution oriented and collaborative. They’re driven by a love of community and students. They are an idea person who inspires others. They have a can-do attitude and are always willing to try whatever best serves the students.”

Then she quoted parents: “They are professional, genuine, respectful, dedicated and inspirational. They push students to pursue and help them to build their dreams. They give of themselves completely.”

His colleagues said: “This teacher is that person for students and teachers. They make all the duties fun, even parking lot duty. Their connection with students is amazing. They bring out the very best in their kids. They are humble. They embody what every teacher should be.”

What’s most important, Jones said, is what students had to say.

“This teacher is an all-around hard worker, inside and outside of school. They treat every day like a new day to reset. This teacher is a mentor. They are knowledgeable, caring, helpful and excited. They care about students as people. They are always there for their students.”

Marrs’ parents and grandparents, sister and other relatives were on hand for the ceremony.

“This is so far out of my comfort zone,” Marrs said to the students and others in the packed gym. “The reason why I’m here is because I get to spend my days with you guys. You guys are why I’m so proud to be a War Eagle.

“I love coming to work every day.”