Angie McCammon: PCHS Teacher of the Year

Published 10:00 pm Friday, February 13, 2015

FEATURE McCammon2web

Learning about self through English lit, community service
By Mark Schmerling

Polk County High School’s Teacher of the Year for 2014/15, Angie McCammon, has good background for her career. McCammon’s mom was a teacher as well.

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“I just always liked reading,” noted McCammon, who teaches English. “I just knew I wanted to be a teacher. Her path split from her mother’s, however, over the grade levels they chose to teach.

Her mom taught first grade. “I knew from helping her, I didn’t want to teach elementary school,” said McCammon.

Instead, McCammon, who received her bachelor’s degree in English from Appalachian State University, and her master’s from Western Carolina University, taught at Polk County Middle School for six years, at Polk Central for four, and now for two years at PCHS, where she teaches literature and writing to seniors, in the school’s English IV program. Despite these years of teaching experience, “I feel like I just got out of college,” she observed.

After graduating from Appalachian State, McCammon, who grew up in Lincolnton, worked at an after-school program in Watauga County for a year.

By the time she entered graduate school, she was already teaching. Eventually, she learned of openings in Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties.

“I’m so glad that I got the job in Polk,” she smiled.

A working mom, McCammon had a baby when she began graduate school, and taught at PCHS for a year while she finished her master’s requirements, which she had started while teaching at Polk Central.. In all, it took her four years to earn her master’s degree.

How does McCammon view her responsibilities as an educator?

“I want them (the students) to broaden their minds, to learn something about themselves, but about others, too . . . to think critically. I hope we realize that we just can’t feed, and have kids spit out. The kids kind of keep me on my toes. I like that intellectual debate. These are smart kids.”

McCammon is a sponsor of the Key Club, a service club affiliated with Kiwanis International. Key Club is a high school version of Kiwanis. Students participating in Key Club perform fifty hours of community service.  Tryon Kiwanis is the sponsoring club for PCHS.

Individuals in the community contact the school, asking for volunteers for certain projects. Students often provide their own ideas. For example, one of McCammon’s students originated the “Sunshine Project,” and visited nursing home patients. That experience provided students with new outlooks, McCammon remarked.

Another student with the high school’s Interact Club, a service club associated with Rotary International, helped stage a winter festival. This festival was a dance with an admission fee that raised funds for the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and for Smile Train, a project in which dental professionals use their skills to provide corrective surgery to children born with cleft lips or palates, and whose families cannot afford the work.

With class sizes ranging from as few as 10-15 students to about 22, McCammon is able to provide quality attention to each student.

“I try to get them to talk, and be comfortable talking in a group,” she said.

The ease of and availability of electronic communication is an incentive for McCammon to help her students interact verbally.

When students pass through her classes each year, it’s difficult, she said, to know if she’s made a difference in someone’s life.

“You don’t know for sure if you’ve had an impact, but you hope. I had great high school English teachers,” McCammon recalled. “They pushed me.”

“However, I have an opportunity to make a difference. They’re the future, so I hope to have an impact,” McCammon reflected.