Law Student Changes Major to Become Highly Effective English Teacher

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

English Teacher Charityh Sutphin has only been a teacher for ten years in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina, but she’s already made her mark with students and colleagues alike.

Sutphin was recently given the top honor of Teacher of the Year based on her involvement with students. Board of Education representative Robert Barr says Sutphin interacts with the students both inside and outside of class and has an easy-going attitude in the classroom.

This easy-going attitude helps her students by keeping them calm and not feeling tense during class. Despite her reputation for being laid-back, Sutphin is considered one of the hardest working teachers at Parkland High School. “Everything she does is for the benefit of these kids. And they adore her,” says Rebecca Johnson, a colleague and friend at the high school.

With all of the accolades she has received for her teaching skills, it is ironic that Sutphin originally set out to be a lawyer. She started teaching as a way to pay for college through the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program. Through this program that ended in 2011, Sutphin promised to teach for four years in a public school in North Carolina in exchange for a four-year college scholarship.

Though her intention was to go back to school for law, her love of teaching and her students kept her rooted in the North Carolina public school system. Principal Spencer Hardy at Parkland High believes that Sutphin’s ability to show students she cares about them and that they are not only an assignment to her stands out to the kids.

Her students echo this saying that Sutphin takes an interest not only in grades but in the lives of her students as well. She understands their struggles and helps them with their struggles. And, they enjoy her class. “I actually want to be in there,” says student JR Abad Serrano.