Award winners, from left, are Andrea Wise, Providence High School; Laura Bauer, Providence High School; Cortney Frasier, Mount Mourne, an ID World School; Lauren Dixon, Gaston Early College High School; Kelly Martin, Cox Mill Elementary School; Erica Hefner, Northwest School of the Arts 

Six teachers have been named winners of the Arts and Science Council’s (ASC) Cato Excellence in Teaching Awards. One works in the Iredell-Statesville Schools system.

The annual awards recognize teachers who have distinguished themselves in teaching art, science or history, or who have demonstrated creative infusion of arts, science or history into the core academic curriculum. Through the support of The Cato Corp., the annual awards recognize six winners – two each in the categories of art, science and history.

The 2019 winners are:


Cortney Frasier, Mount Mourne, an IB World School, Iredell-Statesville Schools:  A fine arts educator, Frasier balances developing students’ skills while cultivating their freedom of expression and exploration. She has led fellow art teachers at the district level and encourages collaboration and innovation among her peers.

Erica Hefner, Northwest School of the Arts, Mecklenburg County: An accomplished music educator, Hefner leads her orchestra students through dozens of performances each year. She is admired for her organizational skills and has co-organized both national and international trips for students.


Andrea Wise, Providence High School, Mecklenburg County: Through her stimulating, hands-on teaching style, Wise gives students a deeper understanding of subject matter and a larger understanding of global issues. Wise also encourages healthy mindsets in her students by incorporating mindfulness techniques into her classroom.

Lauren Dixon, Gaston Early College High School, Gaston County: With more than 20 years of teaching experience, Dixon adapts her instruction to meet the needs of today’s students and make lessons relevant to them. As a comprehensive Science teacher, she teaches Biology, Physical Science and Physics.


Laura Bauer, Providence High School, Mecklenburg County: Through her inquiry-based approach to teaching history, Bauer encourages her students to become critical thinkers and deepens their understanding of subject matter. Her students learn to uncover information, evaluate ideas and organize evidence to support their opinions.

Kelly Martin, Cox Mill Elementary School, Cabarrus County: Described as a kindergarten teacher who encourages and inspires her students, Martin uses positive motivation to keep her students engaged, attentive and learning. She is astute in her observation of students and takes initiative to support her students and colleagues.

“Teachers are the greatest assets in every classroom across America. In North Carolina, we are exceptionally proud of our finest teachers like the recipients of the prestigious Cato Excellence in Teaching Award,” said Dr. Barbara Ann Temple, ASC vice president of education. “These amazing teachers exemplify the endless possibilities of tomorrow. ASC joins the The Cato Corp. in celebrating outstanding teachers who infuse the arts across disciplines.”

Each recipient received $1,500 and a sculpture by Greg Scott, a local artist from Mecklenburg County. The award is made possible through an endowment gift made to ASC from The Cato Corporation.

To be eligible for the annual award, individuals had to be a Pre-K through 12th grade teacher working for a public or independent school in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln or Union counties in North Carolina or York County in South Carolina. 

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