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Erik Mortensen named Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 1:41 pm

BOONE — Watauga High School Auto Tech teacher Erik Mortensen was named Watauga County Schools district-wide Teacher of the Year May 5 during a surprise visit to his classroom and garage from family, peers and Watauga County Schools Staff.

Mortensen was presented the award by Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott, who was joined by several members of the Watauga County Schools central office staff and last year’s  WCS Teacher of the Year Shaun Sikes.

Each year, Watauga County Schools celebrates its Teacher of the Year winner with a surprise ceremony. WCS Staff works to coordinate visits from family and friends to surprise the winning teacher in their classroom.  

Elliott commended Mortensen for his mastery of his craft and dedication to students. 

“Mr. Mortensen is a great example of the excellent teaching professionals in Watauga County Schools. He is highly skilled, loves his students, and serves as a positive role model to his colleagues,” Elliott said. “As a Career and Technical Education teacher, he is a master of his trade and knows exactly what his students need to know and be able to do in order to be successful in the workforce after high school. We are blessed to have teachers of Mr. Mortensen's caliber serving our students and our community. I could not be more proud of him.”

Mortensen has taught Auto Tech at Watauga High School for five years. He is a lateral entry teacher who entered the teaching profession from a career as a master mechanic. He is the first Career and Technical Education Teacher in Watauga to be named countywide Teacher of the Year.

Watauga High School Principal Chris Blanton thanked Mortensen and said his class was a vital asset to so many students at WHS.

“Mr. Mortensen is an incredibly dedicated teacher whose vast experience in his career as a mechanic gives him the ability to impart real world knowledge and expectations on his students every day that will be invaluable to them in their careers,” Blanton said. “There are so many students who have walked across the stage at graduation who might not have made it through their senior year without Mr. Mortensen and his class, and there’s no way to put a value on that.”

Watauga County Schools Teachers of the Year are selected by their peers at each school. The Watauga County Schools District-wide Teacher of the Year is chosen through a process that includes interviews, unannounced teacher observations in classrooms, and a review of a written statement of teaching philosophy prepared by each candidate.

This year’s selection committee included Board of Education Member Steve Combs, 2022-23 Rookie Teacher of the Year Kim Henderson, 2022-23 Teacher of the Year Shuan Sikes, Blowing Rock School Principal Patrick Sukow and WCS Director of Accountability and School Improvement Waybe Eberle.

Gifts and recognitions for Watauga County Schools teachers of the year are made possible by support from The Meadowbrook Inn and Conference Center, Appalachian State University, OP Smiles, The Hickory Crawdads, NASCAR, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Skyline/Skybest Communications, Appalachian Theater, Wendy’s/Tar Heel Capital, Mast Store and Stickboy. 

Mortensen poses with gifts alongside his autotech students after being named Teacher of the Year.

Mortensen accepts his Teacher of the Year plaque from Superintendent Scott Elliott.

Left to right are: Watauga High School Assistant Principal Tierra Stark, School board member Marshall Ashcraft, Scott Elliott, Mortensen; board members Steve Combs, Gary Childers and Jason Cornett, WHS Principal Chris Blanton and Assistant Superintendent Stephen Martin. 

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