Harnett County Math Teacher Of 27 Years Named NC School Hero

The lessons that Joan Powell, a math teacher for 27 years, teaches in her fifth-grade classroom add up to the winning formula making Johnsonville Elementary School a top performing school in Harnett County.

“Joan Powell is clear in her goals and expectations and she produces results,” said Lois Lowery, a second-grade teacher who has worked with Powell for the last five years. “She has made it so that Johnsonville can stand out and be recognized in Harnett County.”

It is known across the school district that Powell has high standards, makes no excuses, and is very passionate about what she does. Powell’s positive impact on her school, her students, and her colleagues led to her selection as one of the 10 winners of the Education Lottery’s School Heroes program.

“Ms. Powell wants everyone to succeed,” said Jeane’ Pope, principal of the school. “She is very committed. She shares what she’s learned and researched, so that we’re all successful.”

Some of that sharing comes at lunchtime when Powell helps kids at any grade level work through math problems.

“I want to make sure that I have a positive impact on every child,” said Powell. “I love when my students are successful. I try to help them develop a deeper understanding because I know they can make a connection in their everyday life.”

The transition from elementary to middle school can be tough but Powell helps all students build the confidence they need to get ready.

“She gets the best out of them!” exclaimed Pope. “She could’ve made a difference anywhere. I’m just glad she chose here.”

The Education Lottery created the NC School Heroes program to showcase the positive impacts teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day. Parents, teachers, and community members submitted more than 4,900 nominations of individuals making a difference in their schools.

Both the School Hero and their school receive a $10,000 award.

Powell said she plans to help with her oldest son’s tuition and take her youngest son on a trip to Japan. Pope said that the School Improvement Team will discuss how best to disburse the award money toward instructional resources for the students.

“Teachers and school staff have all stepped up for our children during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “The 10 School Heroes selected this year provide a glimpse into the world of these everyday heroes and we are glad to shine a spotlight on their great work.”

Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes, including $386 million this school year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians. Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for “at-risk” four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs.