Return to Headlines

November Board of Education Recognitions

The Kannapolis Board of Education was proud to honor outstanding representatives from around the district at its November meeting.

Jackson Park Elementary School

Daniel Ugarte – On a daily basis, Daniel comes to school ready to work, attacks all challenges head on, and never ever gives up until he has conquered any obstacle in his way.  When given a challenging book as an independent reading assignment, Daniel is not frustrated.  He works to understand, asks amazing questions, and is proud of his effort.  When up against a challenging math problem, he never gives up, but attempts it and views each wrong answer as a path to the correct one. His dedication and perseverance is inspiring. 

Daniel is always looking to help others, even the teacher, and it is the manner in which he does it that the most impressive part.  Daniel does not make good choices to be seen or recognized, that is just who he is.  He continues to do the right thing at all times and leads by a quiet, yet powerful example.

Daniel Ugarte embodies all three of our Jackson Park qualities.  He is respectful, responsible, and safe in every situation, whether the classroom, recess, lunch or special area classes. His quiet compassion is evident and others strive to be like him.


Camilla Lemus – Camilla is a hard working student and always tries her best on everything she does.  She comes into class every day with a smile and brightens everyone's day from the start!  She has a positive attitude and always sees the best in things, even when they are hard.  Her classmates love to have her as a partner or in their collaborative group because they know that she won't give up.  Camilla is helpful and always willing to lend a hand, whether it is holding the door or making sure someone doesn't get too frustrated with their work.  Her positive attitude and giving spirit are going to take her many places and give her many opportunities as she grows up and goes out into the world.  We look forward to seeing what she accomplishes this year and in the future!


Gabriela Lazaro – Gabriela Lazaro has been a big part of Jackson Park for a while, and her three students that attend Jackson Park have brightened our classrooms and schools for years.  Whenever one of her children’s classroom needs something, she is always there for Jackson Park.

However, her contributions to our school reached even new heights this past month during Hispanic Heritage Month.  Mrs. Lazaro went above and beyond and joined Jackson Park Hispanic Heritage Gallery Walk, sharing all about her home country, cultures and customs of with our entire student body.  It was amazing to see how genuinely our students connected and engaged with Mrs. Lazaro, and gained a rich experience and appreciation for both the history and culture, but also their fellow students as well.

The work and generosity that Gabriela Lazaro has shown our school has always been wonderful, but the way in which she broadens the horizons of our students has had a deep impact on them and our school as a whole. 


Vanessa Heggins – It is amazing to watch Mrs. Heggins lead and facilitate learning in any of Jackson Park’s classes as she wonderfully substitute teaches. While many subs have preferences for the grade levels in which they’d prefer to sub, Vanessa Heggins will answer the call in any area of our school, which should tell you a lot about the kind of person she is.

Vanessa is no stranger to KCS, as she has subbed in our district for many years. And you know how much the teachers appreciate her efforts by the way they clamor to get her as their sub. They know she will take exceptional care of their students while they are gone, and they have seen Vanessa’s deep respect for students and each classroom’s instruction.  Her calm and patient nature, as well as her experience, make her a substitute we’re proud to have in our classrooms.  Vanessa Heggins remains an invaluable asset to our school as she allows instruction to move forward seamlessly in a safe and happy manner whenever called upon.


Sharon Phifer – Here at KCS, we all have deep respect for our Bus Drivers and the job that they do, but until you’ve experienced the 5:45 a.m. daily report time, and the full three hours of non-stop, fast paced bus driving in both the early morning and the late afternoon, it’s hard to fully appreciation for just how demanding of a challenge they are tasked with every single day.  And that makes the welcoming, kind, and always solution-oriented way Sharon Phifer goes above and beyond with all of her routes, and most importantly, all of her students, all the more admirable. 

Sharon Phifer embodies so much of what Kannapolis City Schools is, in how she deals with an incredibly challenging and important job with such grace and warmth.  And whenever a last minute change or adjustment needs to be made, perhaps in helping cover for another bus’s route or any of the other challenging things that could come up last minute, Sharon always does whatever it takes to get all of our students safely to school in a friendly and accommodating manner that enables them to start their day in the best way possible.


Lynda Shogan – Jackson Park is filled with amazing educators, so when someone can join the JP family, impress everyone, and make a profound impact on all students and staff the way Lynda has in just a few months, you know they must be special.  While being in tune with teachers and classrooms on several grade levels is a vast undertaking, she has found a way to make it look easy, and she is able to do it in a way that actually makes each classroom teacher’s job easier.  It truly feels as if there are two teachers in the classroom whenever Lynda is providing academic support. Her rapport with students and teachers is evident and has earned her their respect in quite a short amount of time.  Not very long ago, Lynda was called upon to fully teach a Kindergarten class…during the first quarter of the school year…for an entire week.  This was quite a challenging and intimidating task, however Lynda seemed to pull it off with ease while leading wonderful classroom instruction and building culture the entire time.  On top of it all, Lynda is one of the nicest and most genuine people you’ll ever meet. Her attitude, work ethic, intelligence, and smile lift everyone’s spirits. She truly makes Jackson Park a better place.


Kelli Earnhardt – As a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Park, Kelli Earnhardt has been a cornerstone of our Kindergarten team in many ways, leading by example as well as simply through very, very hard work and a true loving perseverance with all of her students.  While much of the pandemic is behind us, its impact on our youngest students is still very real.  The challenge our Kindergarten teachers are facing with many of their students is immense, both instructionally and sometimes emotionally.

However, Kelli and the Jackson Park Kindergarten team have risen to the challenge incredibly.  The work, care, patience, and love they have put into our youngest Panthers is immeasurable, and has likely consumed most of their waking hours.  And they’re being successful!  When you visit Kelli’s classroom, the first thing you notice is the wonderfully organized and well differentiated instruction throughout her classroom, most likely being led through multiple small groups all throughout the room.  But you wouldn’t have to stay long to see her patience and love in action.  You can see the caring, nurturing way she deals with students, either struggling with a classroom actively, perhaps scared to be away from home for the first time, or maybe even recovering from trauma or a significant disability.  Through calm, varied way she responds to all of her students, she is able to give them exactly what they need to set them up for high levels of success in their Kindergarten year. 


The Board was also pleased to recognize the Hilbish Ford Teacher of the Month, Haley Flynn, third grade teacher from Forest Park Elementary School.

Haley Flynn is an amazing and passionate Third Grade Teacher at Forest Park Elementary, who connects with each individual student with support and guidance.  The family nominating Ms. Flynn shared, “We were blessed to have Ms. Flynn teach our oldest the year the pandemic hit, and she managed to always stay positive, keeping the students engaged and learning.  When it came time for our youngest to find out her teacher for this year, there were a lot of happy tears when we were handed the paper that said ‘Flynn’.”  This family also noted the care and intent Ms. Flynn puts into her students and her lessons, making her extremely deserving of this recognition.

We’re extremely proud that Haley Flynn is part of our KCS family, and we’re delighted that Hilbish Ford is honoring her with the Hilbish Ford Outstanding Teacher Award for November. Congratulations, Haley!