Excellence in Education April Winners

The Haywood County Schools Foundation recognized Clyde Elementary School media specialist Megean Wantz and Tuscola High School teacher Dawn Williams Tox with Excellence in Education awards for the month of April.

The Excellence in Education program recognizes teachers from Haywood County Schools who exemplify a commitment to innovative teaching practices and show dedication to student success. The program is sponsored by Jack Bishop of Edward Jones and the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

“Teachers are such an important part of the Haywood County community,” Bishop said. “This gift is just a small thank you from our office for preparing our children for success.”

Each month, teachers from the 15 Haywood County Schools are recognized with an Excellence in Education award. Award winners are presented with a certificate and a $100 check sponsored by Bishop.

“Teachers do so much in today’s world. They are listening, coaching, and mentoring the future generation,” Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood Valliere said. “Ms. Wantz and Ms. Williams Tox, like so many of our teachers, are bringing out the best in each of their students.”

Megean Wantz began her educational career seven years ago as a classroom teacher. While her husband was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Wantz worked in Onslow County, N.C. as a first and third grade teacher before switching to the library as a media specialist. Since moving to Haywood County three years ago, she has been the media specialist at Clyde Elementary School.

Wantz said her media center is not set up like libraries on television shows or in movies. There are no quiet signs, and there is no librarian shushing kids.

“Libraries should be loud and active because students are collaborating with each other,” Wantz explained. “I have tried to create an environment where students are encouraged to work together, explore new technologies and information, and solve real-world problems.”

Wantz works with teachers in each grade level to reinforce their curriculum with library projects. She is also responsible for teaching students library skills, about new technology, and how to conduct research.

Like so many in education, Wantz said she loves her job because of the students.

“I love having deep meaningful conversations with the kids and watching them grow,” Wantz said. “Every day is different, and I’m always excited to see what each day will hold.”

Dawn Williams Tox brings a global perspective to her Spanish classes at Tuscola High School. Prior to teaching at Tuscola, Williams Tox taught middle and high school in Guatemala and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Haywood Community College and with Haywood County Schools.

In both her Spanish 2 and Spanish 5 classes, she weaves in lessons on culture, food, social norms, and current events, along with typical vocabulary and conversation instruction.

“My classroom is all about collaboration because to learn new languages, we need other people,” Williams Tox explained. “Like pretty much anything in life worth doing, my students have to listen, talk, make a ton of mistakes, try new things, and support each other.”

Williams Tox said her ultimate goal as a Spanish teacher is seeing her students develop usable language skills. By the end of Spanish 5, students should be able to hypothetically visit any Spanish-speaking environment and quickly join a conversation.

“Teenagers are amazing and remind me to laugh every day,” Williams Tox said. “I love listening to their enthusiasm for whatever it is that interests them because that vigor and life is contagious.”