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David Kotchmar Named Asheville City Schools’ Teacher of the Year

If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that the teachers of Asheville City Schools go home with more on their minds than just lesson plans; their tenacity, compassion and care for students is unending!    

     Therefore, it is with great pleasure that Asheville City Schools announces its 2022 District Teacher of the Year, Mr. David Kotchmar.  

    Currently teaching Honors Biology & Survivor (a 9th Grade class designed to provide students with strategies for academic success) at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville, he was named the ACS Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement this morning. The reveal’s timing was extra special, as it coincides with Asheville City Schools’ Staff Appreciation Week. 

     Upon seeing his “prize patrol,” complete with balloons, flowers and his favorite drink of Mountain Dew, Kotchmar was in absolute shock. 

     “It’s always been great here,” he said.  “It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people, serving wonderful kids.  I don’t need anything else....this is just such an incredible honor.”  

     The 2020-2021 school year marks Kotchmar’s fifteenth year in the classroom and fourteenth at SILSA.  

     After double-majoring in Chemistry and Psychology, Kotchmar originally chose a career in the social work field. The summer following his college graduation, he was hired as the direct care counselor for a pilot program beginning in Upstate South Carolina called Therapeutic Support Services.  The program provided in-home services to students and families with less access as well as emotionally-challenged foster children and their families.  During his time at Therapeutic Support Services, Kotchmar was moved into an assistant supervisor position before being ultimately promoted to coordinator for Greenville County.  

     After realizing teaching would marry his passions of training others and supporting teenagers, Kotchmar attained his teaching licensure and Master’s degree, beginning his educational career in Spring 2006 as an Asheville High Science teacher.  

     In 2007, he began his current role at SILSA. Above and beyond simply teaching standards that could appear on an end-of-course exam, Kotchmar believes his role is to support students in learning skills associated with scientific thinking. 

     “I love to enthusiastically teach science and help students gain a passion for it,” said Kotchmar.  That’s why he varies “lessons with hands-on experiences, collaborative experiences, lectures and discussion - all with the goal of students not only retaining material but also trying to learn skills while stimulating that curiosity for science.”

     Furthermore, Kotchmar has served as SILSA’s 9th Grade Teacher Team Facilitator since 2016 and is a member of the school’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Team. Through these roles, he facilitates grade-level professional development, leads weekly team meetings and develops/modifies the existing curriculum for SILSA’s 9th Grade Survivor Course. Kotchmar also serves on SILSA’s School Improvement Team, chairing the group during the 2017-2018 school year.  

      In addition to his time in the classroom, Kotchmar was asked to present at ACS’s District Professional Development Day in 2016 as well as at the 2010 New Schools Summer Institute.  Additionally, he was one of just five teachers from across the district selected to attend the 2011 National Science Teachers Association Conference. 

     This is the second time Kotchmar has been named SILSA’s Teacher of the Year, first receiving this honor during the 2014-2015 school year. Additionally, he received SILSA’s Team Player Award in 2010 as well as its Inquiry Innovation Award in Fall 2018.  

     This school year, Kotchmar was also named the “Ray of Sunshine” Yearbook Superlative by Asheville High School & SILSA’s student body.  

    Kotchar earned his Bachelor’s of Science degrees in both Chemistry and Psychology from Furman University as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching with a Middle Grades Science Concentration from Western Carolina University.  He is also currently a member of the National Science Teachers Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Pi Lambda Theta Education Honor Society and Professional Educators of North Carolina.  

     Despite his many achievements, Kotchmar believes his “greatest accomplishments would be the opportunities I have had to be a positive influence on students during my teaching career. As teachers, we just want to help: help with education, help with the development of academic and adult skills and, sometimes, just help get a child through the next day, week or year.” 

     As Asheville City Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Kotchmar will now be invited to participate in a regional interview process.  

     Nine regional finalists will be selected amongst North Carolina’s 94,000 classroom teachers.  

     From the nine, 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 2022. 

     If selected as the state Teacher of the Year, Kotchamr will spend the 2022-2023 school year traveling across North Carolina as an ambassador for the teaching profession. 

     In addition to honoring Kotchmar, we would like to congratulate all of our Teachers of the Year across Asheville City Schools:  

  • Sarah Duffer - Asheville High School 
  • Kaysee Grogan - Asheville Middle School 
  • Beth Mayberry - Asheville Primary School 
  • Beth Kickert - Claxton Elementary School  
  • Karen Brown-Thompson - Hall Fletcher Elementary School 
  • Dina Wilson - Ira B. Jones Elementary School 
  • Nicole Bush - Isaac Dickson Elementary School 
  • Norma Hawes - Lucy S. Herring Elementary School 
  • Leah Kiell - Montford North Star Academy