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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Laney High School teacher was surprised this morning with a big honor.

Tears filled Melissa Gillespie’s eyes as she walked into the library, which was jam-packed with friends, family, coworkers and students. They were all there to honor her as North Carolina’s Southeast Regional Teacher of the Year.

Gillespie says she started her career back in 2002 interning at Laney. A year later, she was hired as a social studies teacher.

“It’s great to be honored for the work that you do every day, and when I decided to become a teacher, you know, it was always my thought that I’m going to be the best at what I do. And it’s nice to know that the work you do every day is honored,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie says what makes her job meaningful is knowing that she gets to work with the youth of today and make a difference for tomorrow.

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