The Excellence in Teaching Award: Mrs. Scioli’s finely tailored suit

Mrs. Scioli, winner of the UNC School of Education Excellence in Teaching Award, has been educating students at Leesville for over 25 years. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Polansky)

The University of North Carolina School of Education recently awarded Angela Scioli, Leesville social studies teacher, the Excellence in Teaching Award. This award is one of four Distinguished Alumni Awards given to UNC-CH graduates who fully represent the ideals of UNC’s School of Education.

The Excellence in Teaching Award grants recognition to a teacher whose passion for their field of study emanates through their work, inspiring students and teachers alike. Teachers who receive this recognition use creativity and expertise in their classrooms to help their students better understand the material.

Throughout her 26 years at Leesville Road High School, Scioli demonstrated all of the ideals associated with the Excellence in Teaching Award. Previously, Scioli received Wake County’s First Year Teacher of the Year award (1994) and Leesville’s Teacher of the Year award (1999), which inspired the documentary “Teacher of the Year”.

Scioli also popularized the “Red for Ed” campaign, which strives to improve education legislation, increase teacher pay , and gain better resources inside of the classroom.

Scioli’s journey to becoming a teacher began in high school. “I had amazing teachers at Millbrook High School from 1985 to 1989; they inspired me and made me want to be like them, and they were pretty big shoes to fill,” said Scioli. Scioli went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received the Teaching Fellows scholarship, which helped “cement [Scioli’s] intention to teach.”

As Scioli’s passion for education began in high school, now–as a teacher– Scioli always remembers to view her class from both an educator and a high school student’s perspective. “I’ve always kept in mind what it was like to be a high school student– I remember that really well. I remember how much I needed and appreciated teachers. So I always aspired to meet that standard: to be the kind of teacher I would want my kids to have and be the teacher that I as a student would have wanted to have. That always propels me toward constant improvement… and helped me evolve,” said Scioli.

As a successful teacher, Scioli has learned how to masterfully utilize her environment and surroundings to maximize learning for her students. She describes her system of teaching as a “perfectly tailored suit”, one that she has spent the last 26 years sewing to perfection.

In fact, out of all of Scioli’s accomplishments in the field of education — from teacher of the year awards to the “Red for Ed” campaign — above all she values the finely tailored suit she created within her own classroom. “It’s about the practice and the master craftsmanship that I think I have brought to my space, as best I can. No one ever asks me about that: I impose it on my students, but very few people ask me about that. I love talking about it, and every teacher does because they’re really proud of what they do,” said Scioli.

“To create their suit, what teachers do is they take their discipline, and they take their personality, and they take their students and they take their physical environment and the resources they have, and over the years, they craft systems that are extremely effective and lead to productivity in that space,” said Scioli.

Teachers have all adapted to successfully incorporate the resources around them into their daily teaching methods. However, Scioli encourages teachers to continue fighting for more teaching resources, ensuring that all students are able to receive the best possible education.

Her advice to other teachers is as follows: “As hard as teaching is in the classroom and the workload out of the classroom, I would advise other teachers to get involved in advocacy and help us organize teachers to have a stronger voice in North Carolina, because we all want what’s best for our students. Ultimately, I feel like, only if teachers unite and amplify that voice, can they actually help achieve what is best for their students.”

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