Tiffany Wynn ’16MED Celebrated as 2023 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Piedmont-Triad Regional Teacher of the Year
When Tiffany Wynn ’16MED thinks about what she enjoys most about being an eighth-grade science teacher at Thomasville Middle School, she thinks about Sunday dinner. Wynn describes it as the best time of the week because she can let her hair down and just be herself.
“Thomasville Middle School is the ‘Sunday dinner’ for my career,” Wynn said.
Wynn achieved a career milestone in December, when, at a surprise ceremony, she was honored as the 2023 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Piedmont-Triad Regional Teacher of the Year.
“Everyone was so happy for me, for our students and families, and for our district as a whole,” Wynn said. “This is a very big deal to many people and it shows. I am just honored to be a part of the reason why so many people have so much joy.”
Joy is central to Wynn’s teaching philosophy. She said she was initially inspired to become an educator by a sixth-grade teacher who not only pushed her to her limits, but also made her feel like her life was worth living. When Wynn is in the classroom, she takes a similar approach, determined to ensure her students achieve success while also brightening their days.
“I love seeing my students’ faces light up when they learn something new or are able to connect what we have learned previously to what they are currently learning,” Wynn said. “Science just makes sense when you can apply your learning to your own life. My students are wonderful to work with each day and they keep a smile on my face. We make science enjoyable for each other.”
The way Wynn interacts with her students was shaped by her time as a graduate student in the NC State College of Education’s Master of Education in STEM Education science education concentration.
“My professors and advisors were very patient and gracious, and they worked with me to help ensure that nothing stood in my way to becoming who I am,” Wynn said. “When it felt as though the world was crumbling around me, it was the staff and professors at the university who helped me and held me afloat. Because of this, I learned the true meaning of both grace and mercy, and it is this same grace and mercy I extend to my students and families each day.”
At the NC State College of Education, Wynn said she also learned how to seek support when she needed it, celebrate her accomplishments and enjoy every moment given. For someone who values the sense of community embodied in a Sunday dinner, it was the perfect environment.
“NC State treated me like family and I am so very appreciative for it,” Wynn said.
Wynn credits her principal, Kevin Leake, with providing a similar environment for her at Thomasville Middle, a place where she can spread joy and be the best version of herself for students.
“I chose education to stand in place as an advocate for both students and families — to help alleviate the issues and barriers keeping them from obtaining their highest level of success,” Wynn said.