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2019 Math Teachers of the Year
2019 Math Teachers of the Year
Posted on 10/04/2018
This collage shows Ashely Pace with her students on the left and Elliot Lunsford with his colleagues on the right.Each year, Buncombe County Schools recognizes an outstanding Math Teacher of the Year with an award given by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in partnership with the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM). Nominated by their principals and then invited to respond to prompts, they are selected by a panel of peers after anonymous review of their responses. This award alternates every other year between elementary and secondary.

his year, our panel identified outstanding math teachers at both the middle and high school levels and chose to recognize two BCS Math Teachers of the Year. Mr. Elliot Lunsford is our 2019 Secondary Math Teacher of the Year, and Ms. Ashley Pace is our 2019 Middle School Math Teacher of the Year. Mr. Lunsford will officially represent BCS at the upcoming State Math Conference in Greensboro.


Charles D. Owen High School math teacher Elliot Lunsford got a big surprise on Wednesday.

During a staff meeting in the school’s media center, BCS Central Office staff and Principal Meg Turner announced that Lunsford is the 2019 Secondary Math Teacher of the Year.

“I’m really proud and thankful to be recognized for this,” Lunsford said. “But it’s really our whole department that makes a difference. We collaborate every week on a formal basis, and we get to know each other outside of school. Those relationships help us work together to make a stronger program for our students.”

Turner said Lunsford takes a “dedicated” and “tireless” approach to teaching.

“He is a collaborator, a questioner, a risk-taker, and a man of high ethical standards,” she said. “His students show very strong growth under his facilitation. He is a leader in our building inside and outside the classroom. We are indeed fortunate to call him a Warhorse.”


At Enka Middle School, Ms. Ashley Pace’s seventh-grade math students were studiously discussing graphs when an entourage of staff clutching flowers, balloons, and cameras suddenly entered the room. Ms. Pace looked over her shoulder and blushed as math coach Leigha Jordan addressed her students.

“Can you give us some of the reasons Ms. Pace is such an amazing math teacher?” She asked.

“She helps us out,” one student replied.

“She never gives up on you,” said another.

Students continued to shout out their reasons, agreeing that their teacher is a wonderful person, full of kindness, and eager to help them learn. It was then that math specialist Stefanie Buckner, standing next to Ms. Jordan and other administrators, revealed the reason for the visit: Ashley Pace was chosen as the 2019 Middle School Math Teacher of the Year!

Buckner explained that it was because of Ms. Pace’s efforts to create an an interactive environment where students can discuss math, solve problems, and build confidence that she was chosen for this honor.

Before leaving, one staff person announced, “You have the best math teacher in the county!”

Ms. Pace smiled and said softly, “I have the best students.”

Marta Garcia, center, holding a plaque and surrounded by several other people at the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Math Conference.Update: Nov. 7, 2018***


At the State Math Conference in late October, retired BCS Elementary Math Coach Marta Garcia received the Rankin Award, the lifetime achievement award for NCCTM.

Garcia began her tenure with Buncombe County Schools in 1991 as a classroom teacher at Haw Creek Elementary School. She quickly became a teacher leader and math leader for the district and truly pioneered the way for more content support for elementary math teachers.

Garcia's expertise brought international recognition to our small district, and North Carolina, and her foundational leadership and guidance are still appreciated today.

She has accomplished much, but what truly sets Garcia apart in her accomplishments is her love for math, students and teachers. That has always been at the crux of her work. It is what drives her. It is her "why" and is evident in everything she does.

Marta retired from Buncombe County Schools in May 2016 but has remained active, perhaps more active, with the mathematics education of children across North Carolina, and truly across America.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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