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Evelyn Carrasquillo Named KCS Teacher Of The Year

Evelyn Carrasquillo’s unconventional journey to the classroom began when she worked as a forensic scientist in Miami’s Metro-Dade Crime Lab. She had trained as a chemist and was interning in the crime lab when her career ambitions suddenly went in a different direction. Her occupational detour ended up not only changing her own life’s goals but also inspiring thousands of students along the way.

The reason for Carrasquillo’s change of plans involves her family’s life story, which inspires many of her students. Carrasquillo’s family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. She was the first in her family to go to college, and her sister dropped out of high school. She shares her story openly with her students because it helps to build a connection between them, and it forms a bond that leads many of her students to find success in math for the first time in their lives.

Evelyn Carrasquillo’s transformation into becoming a teacher began as she worked at the Miami Crime Lab and started tutoring her sister. “[My sister] kept telling me that when I helped her, she would understand the material and that she wished I was her teacher,” Carrasquillo said. “This made me rethink my career choice and ignited my passion for helping kids.” Carrasquillo ended up getting her teaching certification and entered the classroom in Florida in 2001. She moved to Cabarrus County in 2007 and taught at J.N. Fries Middle School. In 2010, she came to A.L. Brown High School where she is now chairperson of the Math Department.

During her teaching career, Evelyn Carrasquillo has inspired hundreds of students to move from fearing or failing math to finally understanding it. She says, “My greatest accomplishment is helping students find their self-confidence in math. They come in the first day of school saying they never understand math or have never been good at math. I tell them, ‘This year will be different.’ My biggest reward is giving them the confidence to know they can do something they thought they couldn’t.”

One of the secrets to Carrasquillo’s success is her ability to communicate with students and families. She speaks fluent Spanish, which helps her bond with newcomers and keep Spanish-speaking families engaged in their children’s learning. She also sends weekly texts to all parents and students and often makes phone calls or sends e-mails to make sure everyone is kept well informed. One parent, Caroline Fongemy, says, “I can honestly say that I have never had a teacher in high school who communicated more than Mrs. Carrasquillo. Her weekly texts home to both parents and students, reminding them of assignments and tests, were not a crutch for students. She recognizes that parents need to be active participants in education. She believes it takes a village, and her actions as a teacher show this.”

According to KCS Superintendent, Dr. Chip Buckwell, Evelyn Carrasquillo is the kind of teacher every student needs. “Mrs. Carrasquillo is a true champion for kids. She meets all of them where they are and takes them to heights they never thought they could reach. She not only believes in every student, she has the ability to reach each one and make sure every student has a strong foundation in math. She shows the true power of public education and is an outstanding representative of Kannapolis City Schools.”

Evelyn Carrasquillo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Florida International University, and she earned her teacher certification from Florida Atlantic University. In December, she will receive her Master of Education degree in Instructional Technology from East Carolina University. She will now represent Kannapolis City Schools in the regional Teacher of the Year competition.

As a result of being named Kannapolis City Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Carrasquillo received $1,000 from Mark III Employee Benefits, which sponsors the KCS Teacher of the Year program. NICOLE MORGAN of Fred L. Wilson Elementary was named the system's runner-up Teacher of the Year. She received $500 from Mark III Employee Benefits. The remaining nominees received $100 from Mark III:

  • Natalie Cook, Jackson Park Elementary School
  • Kim Dean, G.W. Carver Elementary School
  • Leslie Fitzpatrick, Kannapolis Middle School
  • Danielle Mangouri, Shady Brook Elementary School
  • Travis Rodgers, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
  • Natasha Sifford, Forest Park Elementary School

More photos from the breakfast can be found here.