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Susanna Cerrato Named Western Region Teacher of the Year

Asheville City Schools’ own Mrs. Susanna Cerrato has been named the Western Region Teacher of the Year - the district’s first since 2009. This means she’s one of just nine educators amongst North Carolina’s 94,000 classroom teachers who could earn the title of North Carolina’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.  

     A 3rd Grade teacher at Ira B. Jones Elementary School, she was named the region’s Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement this morning.  Although Asheville City Schools is currently in a remote setting, our Ira B. Jones administrators went above and beyond to ensure her family and the entire Jones community was present to join in on the celebrations, as they hosted a school-wide virtual "Winter Pep Rally" for all the students and staff. 

     Maureen Stover, the 2020 NC Teacher of the Year, was there to make the surprise announcement in person. 

      Upon hearing she’ll be representing not only her school and our district but all of Western North Carolina, Cerrato’s hands immediately went to her face, and the first word she said was “Wow!” quickly followed by “Thank you so much!  I’ve been saying over and over again that I didn’t really find a professional home until I came to Jones and Asheville City Schools.  It’s easy to love working here because of the people I work with, the families that I work with, and the students that I work with.  I’m just so honored and so excited to represent our region and to continue to represent our school.” 

     The 2020-2021 school year marks Cerrato’s eleventh year in the classroom and fifth at Ira B. Jones.  

     Cerrato’s educational career began in 2010 as a 1st Grade teacher at Central Park East II, CPEII in New York City.  She spent two years in New York, working not only with 1st Graders but also as a 5th Grade collaborative team teacher.  She also led whole group instruction in a 6-1-1 setting for autistic students using various technology to create multiple access points at the Bronx’s P.S. 723 at P.S. 388.  

     Following her time in New York, Cerrato taught 1st and 5th Grade reading at Akili Academy of New Orleans before becoming the Special Educational Instructional Coach and Manager at Schaumburg Elementary.  During her three years in Louisiana, Cerrato worked to supervise the instructional practices of Pre-K thru 2nd Grade special educators while ensuring alignment and fidelity to IEP goals/grade level curriculum as well as led both whole group and small group instruction in literacy and math.  

    In 2016, Cerrato moved to Asheville and began her current role at Ira B. Jones Elementary School.  In addition to leading whole group instruction, Cerrato collaborates with Exceptional Children’s teachers as well as Title 1 instructors to differentiate curriculum using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.  Furthermore, she uses formative and summative data to teach small groups focused on closing skill gaps in literacy and math as well as adapts English Language Arts curriculum with a focus on best practices for implementation with fidelity. 

    In addition to her time in the classroom, Cerrato is a founding member of the Jones Social Justice Team and facilitates Jones’ Equity Steering Committee, overseeing the creative and implementation of equity coaching and decision making for her school community.   Additionally, she’s aided her colleagues’ professional development by leading courses on balanced literacy across grade levels, co-planning/co-teaching models and implementation as well as a book study on Zaretta Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain.   

    She too created an inclusive community in which students from across the district felt safe and motivated to learn as an Asheville City Schools Read to Achieve Summer Reading Camp educator in both 2017 and 2018.  

    Cerrato earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Poetry Writing/Renaissance History from New York University as well as a Master of Arts in Elementary Inclusive Education Certification from the Teachers College of Columbia University.  

     As the Western Regional Teacher of the Year, Cerrato will now be invited to participate in a statewide interview process.   

    Ultimately, the state’s Teacher of the Year will be chosen by a committee of professional educators as well as business and community leaders.  The final announcement will be made in April 2021. 

     If selected as the state Teacher of the Year, Cerrato will spend the 2021-2022 school year traveling across North Carolina as an ambassador for the teaching profession.