Three Dixon teachers were recognized by Veterans of Foreign War Post 9983 as VFW Teachers of the Year by grade level for Onslow and Pender Counties. A fourth was recognized as the North Carolina VFW 5th District’s Teacher of the Year.
Chris Brothers, a history teacher at Dixon High School, Emily Hedrick, an eighth grade English teacher at Dixon Middle School and Melissa Queen, a fifth grade Dixon Elementary School science and English teacher, received the honors. Following a nomination by VFW members and a resume process, the three stood out for their service to the community and work with military students.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Brothers. “It’s something that as a history teacher I think there’s a bit of sense of the scale of what military members have sacrificed throughout this nation’s history and I’m grateful for that. I also had a grandfather who served in the Marine Corps during World War II so to be recognized by the VFW in this community is amazing for the job that I and these other teachers are doing.”
Hedrick noted that understanding the challenges military kids face is important to teaching in the area.
“I try to make a conscious effort to know and understand what's going on in the lives of my students, especially those who have family members who are in the military,” said Hedrick. “Moving to Onslow County … has provided me with the opportunity to teach a much more diverse population of students, some of whom have lived in multiple countries and moved to new schools more times than I can count. Middle school is tough without having a parent deployed or having to move around, so those military students sometimes do need a little extra compassion and understanding. While I have more than a few students come and go throughout the school year, I stress to them that I will always be here for them if they ever need anything.”
National winners of the award will receive $1,000 as will their respective schools. The award recognizes three exceptional teachers from elementary, middle and high schools whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education. For Queen, that focus comes in the form of a class trip to the nation’s capital.
“This will be our fifth year taking a group of 5th graders to Washington D.C. for an overnight trip in the spring,” said Queen. “It is the conclusion to our project-based learning we plan for our students each year. We spend weeks leading up to the trip learning about the history of the monuments and memorials we will visit and how to use respectful behavior when touring our nation’s capital. This is my absolute favorite thing to teach each year.”
Brothers made note of the VFW’s impact on the community.
“I’m very grateful to the VFW for all their support,” Brothers said. “Our administration and our area are very good about recognizing people who are doing positive things for the community.”