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Brian Jones named 2021 Johnston County Teacher of the Year

Brian Jones, who has served as a band teacher at Smithfield-Selma High School since 2003, has been named the Flame for Learning Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022. The 24-year teaching veteran will now represent Johnston County Public Schools in the regional Teacher of the Year competition.

The Triangle East Chamber of Commerce presented the award on Wednesday, April 28. The program was supported by 21 sponsors and donors.

Jones says he decided to be a band director during his sophomore year of high school. He has seen that dream to fruition with an excitement for teaching that is contagious.

“The most rewarding part of my job is building relationships with my students and watching them grow and succeed. Our band is a family atmosphere, and I love that my students are invested and interested in the success of the program long after they graduate. Both my percussion instructor and my guard instructor are former students, and watching them give back to the program that they came through is really special to me,” said Jones. “I am very honored to be chosen as Teacher of the Year. My students are amazing and I am thankful for the opportunity to showcase them and our band program.”

Jones was selected from among more than 200 nominees through a blind judging process; 20 semi-finalists were then selected to move on to the interview phase and submit a Best Practice from the classroom. The semifinalists represented 14 schools from across Johnston County.

Three innovative teachers were chosen as finalists for the award: Janna Rogerson of Princeton Elementary, Heather Best of River Dell Elementary, and Rachel Langdon of Clayton High.

This year’s Flame For Learning program was made possible by 21 sponsors and donors, including Chick-fil-A of Smithfield, which was the Presenting Sponsor, Wal-Mart, Johnston County Education Foundation, Four Oaks Chamber of Commerce, Lynn Harloe Ragsdale,, The Armstrong Law Firm, Coldwell Banker Advantage-Beth Watson, Simple Twist, and Rep. Donna McDowell White. The presentation is available to view on

“Teachers are building the foundation of our students’ futures and, in turn, the strength of our region’s workforce and economic development,” said Mike Mancuso, Chamber President.