Nick Rotenberry Named JCPS 2024 Teacher Of The Year

Polenta Elementary teacher Nick Rotenberry stands tall with his awards as the newly named 2024 Johnston County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

SMITHFIELD – On April 23, 2024, Nick Rotenberry, a fourth-grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Polenta Elementary, was named Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) 2024 Teacher of the Year. In partnership with Triangle East Chamber, the 30th annual Flame for Learning Award celebration was held at The Barn at Broadslab in Benson, honoring all of the 20 semifinalists.

Rotenberry was one of four innovative teachers chosen as finalists for the award including Kaitie Collingwood of Innovation Academy, Jenny Irvine of Cleveland High, and Karen Newhart of Riverwood Elementary.

(From left): Finalist Karen Newhart (Riverwood Elementary), newly named 2024 JCPS Teacher of the Year Nick Rotenberry (Polenta Elementary), Finalist Kaitlyn Collingwood (Innovation Academy), and Finalist Jenny Irvine (Cleveland High) are all smiles at the event.

Friends, family, administrators, and stakeholders gathered for the prestigious award ceremony. The evening’s keynote speaker was Meredith Archie, President of the NC Chamber Foundation.

In 1994, the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce adopted the Flame For Learning Award because of the importance of teachers in developing and educating children. Their goal is to support and elevate the teaching profession in JCPS. This award recognizes outstanding creativity and innovation in teachers selected strictly on merit, without regard to school or residence.

This year’s 2024 Teacher of the Year semifinalists gather for a group photo following the 2024 Teacher of the Year Award celebration. They are: (from left, top row): Kimberly Flynn (Thanksgiving Elementary), Amy Wellbrook (Riverwood Middle), Lisa Morgan (Cooper Academy), Cindy Adams (South Johnston High), Matthew Barnhill (Corinth Holders High); (middle row): Bethany Helms (Clayton High), Caroline Daily (Clayton High), Danielle Wilson (Swift Creek Middle), Elizabeth Jordan (Dixon Road Elementary), Becky Johnson (West Clayton Elementary), Valorie Trombley (Riverwood Elementary), Jennifer Medlin (Riverwood Elementary), Jenna Fitzgerald (Clayton Middle), Antonella Vecchiola (Selma Elementary), Elisabeth Tart (Selma Elementary), Karen Newhart (Riverwood Elementary), Nick Rotenberry (Polenta Elementary), Kaitlyn Collingwood (Innovation Academy), Jenny Irvine (Cleveland High), Carlos Jimenez (Selma Middle).

Through a blind judging process 20 semifinalists, representing 16 schools from all across the school district, were nominated by their administrators and selected to move on to the interview phase. They also submitted a Best Practice from the classroom.

As the winner, Nick Rotenberry received $1,000 from event sponsors and will represent Johnston County in the regional competition for North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year.

Guests enjoy visiting with one another before the beginning of the 2024 Flame for Learning Award celebration event at The Barn at Broadslab.

Finalists Collingwood, Irvine, and Newhart received $500 each, and the remaining semifinalists each received $150. All cash awards were made possible thanks to the 2024 Flame For Learning Award sponsors.

The 20 semifinalists for 2024 Teacher of the Year are:

Matthew Barnhill – Corinth Holders High
Bethany Helms – Clayton High
Caroline Daily – Clayton High
Jenna Fitzgerald – Clayton Middle
Jenny Irvine – Cleveland High
Lisa Morgan – Cooper Elementary
Elizabeth Jordan – Dixon Road Elementary
Kaitlyn Collingwood – Innovation Academy
Nick Rotenberry – Polenta Elementary
Jennifer Medlin – Riverwood Elementary
Karen Newhart – Riverwood Elementary
Valorie Trombley – Riverwood Elementary
Amy Wellbrook – Riverwood Middle
Antonella Vecchiola – Selma Elementary
Elisabeth Tart – Selma Elementary
Carlos Jimenez – Selma Middle
Cindy Adams – South Johnston High
Danielle Wilson – Swift Creek Middle
Kimberly Flynn – Thanksgiving Elementary
Becky Johnson – West Clayton Elementary

South Johnston High Assistant Principal Beth Otto (left) and 2024 Teach of the Year semifinalist and South Johnston High teacher Cindy Adams take the opportunity to have some fun.


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