Katie Walters, CFNN Editor/Reporter

After a long few months of dedicated work and anticipation, the 2021 Cumberland County Schools Teacher of the Year has been selected. On September 14, 2020, it was announced that the winner was Nicole Rivers from Gray’s Creek High School, and the first-runner up is the one and only, Christopher Lucas!

“I won’t lie, at first it stung a little bit to come so close; I’m a competitive person and I’m passionate about what I spoke about in the interview, I definitely wanted to bring the W to CF and the community,” he explained. “However, Mrs. Rivers is an AMAZING teacher and she will represent our county well and I feel truly honored to be first runner up to her.”

He was a little bit nervous in the days leading up to the ceremony, but was excited to be with the other finalists in the county and to celebrate their accomplishments. “I did my best in the interview and felt like I represented Cape Fear as well as I could, so I was actually looking forward to the virtual ceremony,” Lucas said. 

Much of his time was spent towards preparing for interviews and writing essays about his pedagogy and his purpose for teaching. He had an opportunity to showcase his passion, and he didn’t let that go to waste. From his hard work, Lucas gained many benefits from this experience. 

He started developing his Academic Outreach initiative before the Teacher of the Year process began, but because of his time spent with other educators and administrators, he was able to bring more light to this project. 

His county-wide goal will allow for students of all backgrounds and academic levels to receive equal opportunities in school, including equality and encouragement in more rigorous and stereotypical “AP” classes.

Lucas was awarded a trophy and plant from Cumberland County Schools, $200 from the CCBOE (Cumberland County Board of Education), and $300 from Olde Fayetteville Insurance and Financial Services. 

All 86 Teacher of the Year candidates earned $100 from CCS, a plaque-certificate from the CCBOE, professional photos from Lifetouch photography, and two hours of C.E.U. (Continuing Education Unit) credit. The 10 district finalists additionally received an iPad from CCS and $100 from the CCBOE.

Other winners from Cape Fear High School include Mrs. Tammy Cox, who won the CCS Beginning Teacher of the Year award. 

Mr. Lucas is incredibly grateful for this opportunity, and would like to thank his peers and colleagues for selecting him. He is very proud of them, and has much love and respect for them.

CFNN gives a huge congratulations to Mr. Lucas! We are so proud of you. Your passion for teaching is a wonderful gift, and we thank you making Cape Fear the best place to be. 

Lucas also would like to thank his dad for inspiring him to become a history teacher. “He passed away a couple of years ago and after each interview, I picked up my phone and wished more than anything I could call him to tell him how it went,” he shared.  “I know he is still with me though, and his strength and guidance helped me along the process.”