Halifax County Principal of the Year Teicher L. Patterson ‘13MSA: ‘In Order to Change a School and Community, the Leadership Must be Visible and Active in Community Functions, Meetings, Celebrations and Even in Times of Struggle and Hardship’

Teicher Patterson

While Teicher L. Patterson ‘13MSA was pursuing a Master of School Administration from the NC State College of Education, he completed a summer internship in a housing community for low-income families. That experience impacted his life.

Having worked with children for many years as a music teacher and band director, Patterson spent time in the local community and had worked with students from underprivileged backgrounds. In those times, the students all had a desire to participate. But this was different.

About Teicher L. Patterson

Hometown: Raeford, North Carolina

Role: Principal, Enfield Middle STEAM Academy in Enfield

Education: Master of School Administration, NC State College of Education; Bachelor of Arts in Music, North Carolina Central University 

His Advice to Aspiring Educators: “Remember, there is a child in all of us, never forget your childhood while standing in front of your students. Always keep a child’s face in your heart and mind when constructing lesson plans and making decisions; the lessons are always for them, but they will always teach you something.” 

Why He Chose Education: “I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students in rural communities. Educators seemed to have the greatest impact on the lives of children.”

“My internship placed me with a group of 26 children who all had a different agenda than the housing division’s manager. [Management] wanted students to continue learning in a camp-style, offering academic tutoring, arts and crafts and physical movement,” he said. “Not only did the kids not want to participate, but the housing division lacked the resources.”

In an effort to keep the kids engaged, Patterson went to the district office and asked if breakfast and lunch could be provided for the students in the housing community. After a few weeks, food was provided. He then began using his contacts to assist with activities and lessons. One month later, there was a full day camp with activities, trips and food, all free for the students who lived in the community.

Patterson brings that same drive and compassion every day to Enfield Middle STEAM Academy, where he has served as principal for the past five years. His love for his students and his commitment to helping students succeed has not gone unnoticed, as he was named the 2019-20 Halifax County Public Schools Principal of the Year.

“It is an honor to be chosen by my colleagues to represent our district. I was very surprised to receive the honor, but certainly humbled,” Patterson said.

Patterson, who comes from a rural community himself in Hoke County, became an educator because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of students in rural communities.

And he has been changing lives through education for 26 years — 20 as a classroom teacher, one as an assistant principal and five as a principal.

Patterson’s interest in being a principal came from being a member of the school improvement team, he says. He realized he wanted to have a greater impact on the decisions of the school, which would allow student success while impacting the entire community.

He enrolled in the Master of School Administration program at NC State, where he was selected to participate in the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA).

“The Northeast Leadership Academy had a very hands-on approach to leadership. I was drawn to the fact that one of the pillars is to build leadership in rural and hard-to-staff communities,” Patterson said. “NELA provided me the opportunity of focusing on the needs of rural communities and offered research-based strategies on how to serve them.”

He credits the NC State College of Education and NELA for his success as a principal. His experience in the program, he says, shaped his leadership by helping him better understand equity versus equality.

“When serving a community that lacks so many resources, it becomes necessary to learn how to use and work with available resources, advocate for new resources and yet, provide a quality educational experience for students,” he said. “I learned that service really matters. In order to change a school and community, the leadership must be visible and active in community functions, meetings, celebrations and even in times of struggle and hardship.”

Throughout his career, Patterson has served as a facilitator for the North Carolina Teacher Academy, has held positions on state boards and commissions, and has served locally and on the state level for the North Carolina Association of Educators.

“I am completing my 26th year in education and it has been a great ride. I look forward to my future as an educator and coming soon the time that I can really serve as an ambassador for education after retiring from the public school system,” Patterson said. “I know and believe in the value of education; it works, it worked for me.”