New Hanover County teacher receives 2020 Sanford Teacher Award

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two teachers from North Carolina are recipients of the Sanford Teacher Award and one of them teaches in the Cape Fear region.

According to the Sanford Teacher Award website, the winners are chosen “for demonstrating high levels of inspirational teaching practices by engaging students, building student confidence, giving students a voice, motivating students to succeed, and creating an inclusive environment.

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The Award recognizes and rewards 51 of the nation’s top inspiring teachers including one from each U.S. state and Washington, DC. It includes a gift of $10,000 for each of the 51 finalists and a $50,000 total award for the grand prize winner.

There were two extremely qualified teachers in North Carolina and two award winners were chosen. Maggie Murphy teaches at Piney Creek School in Piney Creek (Alleghany County) and Trevor Todd teaches at Castle Hayne Elementary School in Wilmington (New Hanover County).

“I feel like my teaching style is one of creativity, thinking outside the box and I feel when you possess that teaching style, you stand above others,” Todd said during an interview on WWAY’s Good Morning Carolina.



WWAY actually featured Todd as a Teacher of the Week in May 2019 where we observed firsthand how he used a popular Katy Perry song to teach students about figurative language.

More recently, Todd won the 2020-2021 New Hanover County Schools Elementary Educator of the Year Award.

“What a great year for me, I feel so honored as a teacher, I feel so grateful to have won the Sanford Teaching Award and even more grateful to have won the elementary educator for our county,” Todd said.

Despite having to shift to online instruction when the pandemic forced schools to close their doors this spring, Todd says he was able to roll with the punches and continue offering meaningful learning opportunities for his students. He actually picked a student each week to recognize and drove to their home to place a sign in their yard recognizing their academic achievement.

“It was extremely challenging, especially teaching second grade,” he said. “They’re not driven to being online and they thrive on the social interaction and so it was a big challenge for me but an even bigger challenge for them.

According to the Sanford Teacher Award website, award recipients were picked by a committee based at National University in San Diego, California. To read more about each state’s winner, click here.