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Celebrating Blair Wilkes, our award-winning special education teacher

Dr. Taylor at Willow Spring

Nov. 1, 2023


Each year, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction names one special education teacher from each district across our state as an Educator of Excellence. This year's winner for Wake County is Blair Wilkes of Willow Spring High.


I had the opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Wilkes and spend some time in her blended AST/BST classroom last week. I was particularly grateful to have the opportunity to visit a Special Education classroom in October, which was Disability History & Awareness Month. Schools all over our district use this time to increase understanding of people with disabilities, and to celebrate the ways they contribute to the rich fabric of every school.


Mrs. Wilkes has been a teacher for 12 years and has taught at Willow Spring High since it opened three years ago. It was inspiring to watch her engage with each one of her students, and it was clear how much they respected and appreciated her in return.


What I saw when I visited Mrs. Wilkes’ classroom is a teacher who clearly believes her students can succeed with the right support and the right attitude. She told me that she chose this profession because she was concerned about students with special needs getting overlooked and not meeting their full potential.


As a school district, we strive to serve the needs of every student, every day.


Ms. Wilkes embodies that ideal, and I know there are many more dedicated special education teachers just like her all across our district.


During the classroom discussion, we talked with students about the importance of setting up an action plan to accomplish specific goals. I shared with students how I made time to study for the GRE when I was pursuing my doctorate. Given my work and family obligations, I needed a firm plan in place to devote the necessary time and attention to study.


Setting ambitious but realistic goals and mapping out a plan to achieve them are essential for success - not only for students, but for any individual or organization. 


As a school district, we have laid out some ambitious goals in our revised Strategic Plan. It is my job to put this plan into action so we are in a position to achieve these goals.


That’s why I’m spending my first 100 days as superintendent listening, learning, and connecting with outstanding educators like Mrs. Wilkes and her amazing students.


I am grateful for all I am learning and the relationships I continue to develop as I move through my first 100 days as your superintendent. I look forward to working with our talented special education teachers, school staff and many other partners as we work together to meet the needs of students of all abilities, every day.


With gratitude,



Robert P. Taylor