1st-Year Teacher Adam Tokonitz ’19: To My Professors, Thank you

Adam Tokonitz

A first-year teacher at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina, Adam Tokonitz ’19 sent the following letter via email Oct. 14 to professors he had while a student in the NC State College of Education’s Technology, Engineering, and Design Education program. He gave us permission to share his letter as part of our celebration of extraordinary educators during American Education Week 2019.

You can share your own extraordinary experiences with the NC State College of Education by completing this form. By participating between Nov. 18-22, you will receive a complimentary T-shirt (while supplies last). 


I wanted to reach out and thank you all, personally, for investing in me as a student at NC State. When I enrolled at State, I wanted to be an engineer. After a few hardships, I found out engineering wasn’t for me. When I became inspired through a club offered at NC State, and when I found out I wanted to pursue teaching, I never imagined I would have ended where I am now. Through the Technology Education program, I have developed into what I can only hope to be viewed as a successful educator for the state of North Carolina.

Although not without challenges, my transition into “the real world,” if you will, has been phenomenal. I student taught at Riverside High School, in Durham, and was shortly thereafter picked up to be one of their newest teachers — and youngest! Through the program at State, I felt as if I was thoroughly prepared for this. The classes and experiences I partook in only helped mold me into what I am now. I am gracious for all of your dedication to teaching successful future teachers.

Through the program at State, I felt as if I was thoroughly prepared for this. I am gracious for all of your dedication to teaching successful future teachers.

In September, I had my first observation. It went with bumps, as any firs-year teacher would expect. But I found myself earning at least proficient on most of the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards, even some accomplished and distinguished marks — a feat that my principal and mentors have said is rarely heard of for beginning teachers (BT1s).

I can only thank you all for investing in me and pushing me to this greatness. My experience at Riverside, and at NC State, has shown me that I really want to teach — that I really want to invest in the younger generation and inspire them. That is, after all, how I found myself going to NC State in the first place — because I had teachers in high school that cared.

When I took my parents through my classroom one weekend, they told me that 5 years ago, if I had told them I wanted to be a teacher, they would’ve looked at me like I had two heads. Now, they have stated time and time again that it felt as if I was in my element, as if this was what I really wanted. And it’s all true. I am dedicated to the passion of teaching, I am invested in all of my students, and I hope to inspire each of them to follow their passions — engineering or not.

So thank you, each and every one of you, for not giving up on me. For putting up with the Adam Tokonitz we all knew in our classes. I wouldn’t have changed a minute of my college career. I felt like I belonged and I followed that passion and now use it to show my students what it takes to be great.

I hope you all enjoy the semester, and the cooler weather we are finally receiving! And as always, Go Pack!

Adam Tokonitz ’19
Durham Riverside High School
Project Lead The Way Facilitator
B.S. Technology, Engineering, Design Education
Class of 2019 Outstanding Senior