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Vance County Schools Honors the 2022 Educators of Excellence

Vance County Schools honors the 2022 Educators of Excellence: Anita Griffith of Zeb Vance Elementary as Teacher of the Year, Launtia Dallas of Clarke Elementary as Beginning Teacher of the Year, Donald Johnson III of Aycock Elementary as Assistant Principal of the Year and Edward Ortega of STEM Early High as Principal of the Year.

The awards were presented at the district’s annual Excellence in Education banquet held on Tuesday, August 16th at the Henderson County Club. The banquet honored teachers, staff and administrators from across the district, representing their respective schools. 

Anita Griffith was named Vance County School’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. Griffith has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Piano Performance and Choral Conducting, and has held many positions, teaching in elementary, secondary and university settings. 

“This is an amazing acknowledgement”, said Anita Griffith. “I am humbled to be named VCS District Teacher of the Year. Our children are so important and I will try to always do my best for them.” 

Griffith teaches music at Zeb Vance Elementary. 

“[Mrs. Griffith] is over the moon! She is a phenomenal educator and in everything she does”, said Andrew Markcoch, the Director of Fine Arts and Innovation. First and foremost, she has built relationships with the students, and has built a culture in her room at Zeb Vance that is palatable”. Anybody that walks into her room will see that instantly. [She is] a wonderful representation of the kinds of things that we do in this district in the arts.” 

Launtia Dallas, a 2nd grade teacher at Clarke Elementary, was recognized as the 2022 Beginning Teacher of the Year. Dallas shared that she is excited, elated, honored and extremely grateful to Vance County Schools for this prestigious award. [She] strongly believes that educators should always be the embodiment of Frank Tyger's quote, "To teach, to guide, to explain, to help, to nurture - these are life's noblest attainments." Of such, I show up everyday to educate my scholars as if they had my last name. My desire is to serve them to the best of my ability so that they can serve our community. I am humbled by this recognition and I'm ready to allow this fresh fire to perpetuate, as I believe that our scholars deserve teachers who believe that they can learn and will not be satisfied until they do.”

Dallas is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College and The Mico University College. 

Donald Johnson III, VCS’ 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year and assistant principal of Aycock Elementary School, began his educational journey in Granville County as a teacher and Assistant Principal, and joined Vance County Schools in 2021. He has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a master’s degree in Education with a focus in Educational Leadership from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. 

“I am truly humbled, honored, and blessed to serve the community that I am from. As a product of Vance County, I am fortunate to be able to serve alongside an amazing group of educators, children, and families that make up our community. As I reflect on the privilege of being named the Vance County Schools' Assistant Principal of the Year, the word that immediately comes to mind is 'thankful.' I am thankful to serve on a dynamic team that is committed to serving children each day to ensure that all children are given the best opportunities to learn and grow. I am thankful to continue to serve the community that made me who I am today. I am so proud of each educator in our district that invests in our students and community - they are the true heroes.” -Donald Johnson III 

Edward Ortega, who is the principal of STEM Early High, said that “[he is] extremely honored and humbled to have been named Vance County Schools principal of the year. This is a recognition of the dedication and hard work poured in over the years to make sure our students receive the quality education they deserve. I did not reach this point on my own. Since I came from Colombia in 2004, I have been blessed with mentorship and friendship of amazing educators and leaders. I am truly thankful to each one of them for the guidance, support and affection expressed along the way. I am also fortunate to work for a school district and community committed to fostering academic excellence in the county’s children and youth. I will continue to be fully committed to my passion for teaching and learning in all its forms in a school district that has become an incredibly special place for me and my family. Again, thank you Vance County Schools for this recognition. It feels amazing to be the 2022 VCS Principal of the Year.”

Ortega began his career with Vance County Schools as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. He graduated from the Universidad del Atlántico in Columbia as a Modern Languages Teacher. 

“It’s an honor to celebrate all of the educators in our district, especially those recognized by their peers as Teacher of the Year and Beginning Teacher of the Year”, said Superintendent Dr. Cindy Bennett. “It is also exciting to be part of recognizing members of our school leadership. Vance County Schools is very fortunate to have a group of dedicated and passionate teachers and leaders who recognize that the most important part of our job is serving our children.”

Vance County Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Anita Griffith, and Principal of the Year Edward Ortega will represent Vance County Schools in the regional titles. 

2022-2023 Vance County Schools Teacher of the Year Nominees: 

  • Jovellet Campbell-Scott, AdVance Academy

  • Liliana Soto, Aycock Elementary

  • Fe McCoy, Carver Elementary

  • Julie Lundy, Clarke Elementary

  • Ellen Harris, Dabney Elementary 

  • Lacresha Henderson, E.M. Rollins STEAM Academy 

  • Christina Welch, E.O. Young Elementary

  • Sharita Jones, L.B. Yancey Elementary

  • Jozette Broughton, New Hope Elementary

  • Cheryl Jones, Pinkston St. Elementary

  • Milton Lima, STEM Early High 

  • Okito Sleugh, Vance County Early College

  • Yvonne Campbell, Vance County High 

  • Gloria Holden, Vance County Middle

  • Sabrina Vereen, Vance Virtual Village Academy

  • Anita Griffith, Zeb Vance Elementary 


2022-2023 Vance County Schools Beginning Teacher of the Year Nominees: 

  • Linnoya Watkins, AdVance Academy

  • Sherly Gerardo Ortiz, Aycock Elementary 

  • Lillian King, Carver Elementary 

  • Launita Dallas, Clarke Elementary 

  • Ashley Rogers, Dabney Elementary 

  • Valesia Perry, E.M. Rollins STEAM Academy 

  • Loricia Martin, E.O. Young Elementary 

  • Barbara Young, New Hope Elementary

  • Sophia McInnis, Pinkston St. Elementary 

  • Roanna Evans, STEM Early High School

  • Brioney Robinson-Mills, Vance County High 

  • Deon Smith, Vance County Middle School

  • Grant Hairston, Zeb Vance Elementary


2022-2023 Vance County Schools Assistant Principal of the Year Nominees: 

  • Donald Johnson, Aycock Elementary

  • LaShonda Mellette, AdVance Academy

  • Alice Hinson, STEM Early High

  • McShell Edmonds, Vance County High 


2022-2023 Vance County Schools Principal of the Year Nominees:

  • Dr. Carnetta Thomas, E.M. Rollins STEAM Academy

  • Edward Ortega, STEM Early High

  • Dr. Jessica Perry, Vance Virtual Village Academy

Official Press Release

Educators of the Year 2022

All Nominees