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CvHS teacher named finalist for NCCAT Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year

Johnston County Public Schools 2022 Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year Gabe Patton was one of 27 educators who were named a finalist for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) 2023 Empower NC Beginning Teacher of the Year Award.

Patton, a CTE-Aviation teacher at Cleveland High, was named the JCPS Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year in April 2022. The title allowed Patton to move on to compete for the NCCAT Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year, which will be presented March 9, 2023, on Western Carolina University’s campus.

“Mr. Patton is an invaluable resource for the students at Cleveland High School,” said Cleveland High Principal Jenna Sauls Hairr. “He is a dedicated teacher who has brought a wealth of knowledge to our school community. We’re proud of all that he’s accomplished and we’re thankful to have in our Ram family.” 

Patton is a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force. He is a lifelong learner who collaborates with other districts, DPI’s Career & Technical Education Department, and local universities in an effort to grow and expand Cleveland High’s program and generate learning opportunities for students across the state in the CTE-Aviation program.

“We appreciate the enthusiastic response from all over the state for the Beginning Teacher of the Year Award,” said NCCAT Executive Director M. Brock Womble. “These finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a North Carolina public school. We are excited about this opportunity to honor teachers for the important work they do in our state.”

The 2023 Beginning Teacher of the Year finalists are:

Gabe Patton, Johnston County Public Schools

Alexis Alfred, Jackson County Schools

Madison (Maddie) Baker, Catawba County Schools

Ratasha Benton-Manley, Northampton County Schools

Christian Boletchek, Roanoke Rapids City Schools

Izabella Botello, Iredell-Statesville Schools

Karen Cardillo, Carolina Charter Academy

Jerico Carrillo, Guilford County Schools

Katelyn Clarke, Pitt County Schools

Breeana (Bree) Clayton, Henderson County Schools

Jamie Conley, Brevard Academy

Kbria Filali, Pender County Schools

Hannah Fitta, New Hanover County Schools

Kirby Forbes, Lee County Schools

Samantha Fortner, Mitchell County Schools

Emily Giardina, Chapel Hill Carrboro Schools

Kenna Gautier, Clinton City Schools

Ariana Hunter, Rutherford County Schools

Goodin Huss, Hoke County Schools

Tonya McGill, Cumberland County Schools

Natalia Mejia, Cabarrus County Schools

Sabrina Moore, Mount Airy City Schools

Darbie Rash, Ashe County Schools

Nancy (Beth) Rose, Wayne County Schools

Maria Sutton, Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (NEAAT)

Amber White, Rowan Salisbury Schools

Carly Wright, Thomasville City Schools

The NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year will receive:

  • $5,000 cash prize

  • Participation in a GoGlobal NC trip in 2024

  • Instructional supply funds for their school

The runner-up will receive:

  • $2,000 cash prize

Finalists will receive:

  • Travel expenses and substitute costs to participate in NCCAT professional development

More information about the NCCAT Beginning Teacher of the Year program is online at

To learn more about Patton’s journey to becoming the JCPS Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year, see the press release shared by JCPS in May 2022.