Dare County after-school teacher Shelawn Burton named NC School Hero

Published 11:02 am Thursday, March 4, 2021

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Submitted by Marie Melendez, NC Education Lottery

For the last 20 years, the driving force behind the success of the After-School Enrichment Program at Manteo Elementary School has come from the radiant, positive energy and “I’ve got this” attitude of its site coordinator, Shelawn Burton.

“She just welcomes you in,” said Kelly Flora, director of elementary education at Dare County Schools. “If anyone needs assistance, training, support, Shelawn has it covered.”

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The kids and staff at Manteo Elementary love Burton because “whenever Shelawn is in the room it lights up,” said Marsha Riibner-Cady, a colleague of Burton’s for the last nine years.

The after-school program helps parents who work past regular school hours because children grades kindergarten through fifth get help with their homework and get to participate in art, science, math and social activities.


Courtesy NC Education Lottery

“She is amazing with all children, regardless of need,” Flora said. “They just follow her. She can motivate and excite those children in a way that no one else can. She really is the total package.”

Over the years, Burton has seen that the kids who graduate into middle school always seem to find their way back to her afterschool classroom.

“They all come back to see me,” she said. “It’s amazing to see because they use what I taught them and show it to the little ones. They volunteer here because they love it so much. That’s the best thing ever.”

Burton’s two decades of creating a safe, nurturing and fun after-school program led to her selection as one of the 10 winners of the Education Lottery’s School Heroes program.

The Education Lottery created the program to showcase the positive impacts teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day. Parents, teachers, and community members submitted more than 4,900 nominations of individuals making a difference in their schools.

Both the School Hero and their school receive a $10,000 award.


Shelawn Burton. Courtesy NC Education Lottery

Burton said she plans to use the money to make a down payment on a home, a lifelong dream. Flora said the school’s award would be used to buy school supplies for both inside and outside the classroom.

“Teachers and school staff have all stepped up for our children during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “The 10 School Heroes selected this year provide a glimpse into the world of these everyday heroes and we are glad to shine a spotlight on their great work.”

Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes, including $386 million this school year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians. Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for “at-risk” four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs.

The lottery raises more than $725 million a year for education. For details on how $2.1 million in lottery funds have made a difference in Dare County, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website, www.nclottery.com.



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