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Lance Atkinson ’18MAT on His First Year in the Classroom

Lance Atkinson was recognized for his work in Johnston County schools

Quickly adapting to critical scenarios was a routine part of the job for Lance Atkinson’18MAT when he was a firefighter and member of North Carolina’s Emergency Management team.

Now, in his first year of teaching social studies at Clayton High School, he says being able to adapt to change was one of the most important traits he brought to the classroom. Perhaps that trait is one of the reasons Johnston County Public Schools named him its 2019 Outstanding First-Year Teacher.

“I constantly have a plan for my lessons every day, but I adapt it as class goes to match how the students are doing,” Atkinson said. “My instructors and classes [at the NC State College of Education] did a great job exposing me to so many different aspects of the job and my time student teaching was a major help as well.”

Atkinson changed directions mid-career to pursue his passion for history while changing lives. He says teaching was the most obvious way to work directly with students and try to better their lives and futures. As a teacher at Clayton High School, he gets to do just that through his U.S. history, firefighter technology and world issues emergency management classes.

“My favorite moments from my first year of teaching are when my students from last semester come back to my class to tell me how much they miss it and to thank me for what I did for them,” he said. “We directly influence the future generation. . . . I believe it is a privilege and honor to be a teacher because teachers are the ones who make all professions possible.”