LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Covey Denton

Position: Fifth Grade Teacher
School: Sallie B Howard School of Arts and Science
School District: Sallie B Howard School of Arts and Science
City, State: Wilson, NC

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Covey Denton was nominated by Linda Lathan, a family member.

Ms. Denton is a phenomenal educator.  This year, she was hired to be a K-8 specialty teacher for science, as science is her true passion. When her school pivoted to remote learning, however, she stepped into the role of fifth grade teacher to fill the most urgent need at her school. She has poured herself into fifth grade this year, attending numerous online professional development conferences and more to bring the best she can to the virtual environment.  

Ms. Denton's passion for science is never-ending.  She works with Steve Spangler, the Ellen DeGeneres Science guy, to help his Everyday STEM Teacher group. She also holds professional development sessions to help educators get grants.  Ms. Denton has already received over $12,000 in grants this year for her new science lab, which will serve approximately 1,000 K-8 students in a Title I school. At her previous school, she was awarded over $40,000 in grants over the six years she worked there. To date, she has mentored six different teachers, who were each awarded a grant they applied for. 

At her previous school, she created an amazing STEM program and had several student teams achieve recognition on the national level in the Exploravision competition, the Citgo-Discovery Fueling Education program, and the 3M Young Scientist competition. Ms. Denton decided to move to a Title I charter school to help develop the K-8 program feeding into the charter's brand new Biotech program. Over the past year, she worked closely to help open and plan the Biotech high school. She's eager to work with the K-8 population in the school to ensure their success in the rigorous program. Ms. Denton is an amazing educator who has mentored other science teachers in her school. This year, she is working closely with the 7th grade science teacher, who is brand new to both science and teaching.  

Ms. Denton recently completed a fellowship with the NC Science Leadership Association.  This is a highly competitive fellowship requiring a large time commitment and multiple opportunities for growth.  As a result of the program, she has been awarded two board positions at the national level.  She was one of the founding board members for the Infiniscope project and currently serves on the board of the National Mid-Level Science Teacher's Association. Ms. Denton is also an ambassador for the Exploravision competition run by NSTA (the National Science Teaching Association). Additionally, she has been recognized at the national and state level, earning many awards, including:

  • 2015 - the NC District Teaching Award for Elementary and Middle School science
  • 2016 - the WITN Teacher of the Year Award and the Robert E Yager Award
  • 2017 - the Maitland P Simmons Award
  • 2018 - the Vernier Award for Elementary Educators
  • 2019 - the Sylvia Shugrue Award from the National Science Teacher Association

These awards required her to submit activities, videos, lesson plans and letters from her supervisors explaining the atmosphere of learning and discovery she creates in her classroom. 

Ms. Denton does a lot outside of the classroom, as well.  Though COVID-19 has limited a lot of her community involvement, she continues to do science segments on WITN news, encouraging their viewers to do science safely at home.  She volunteers at her local science museum, the Imagination Station, for their special events, doing science demonstrations and advising their Junior Board.  She also volunteers and does science shows at the local Ronald McDonald House, the Kennedy Center, and the Baptist Children's home, sharing her love of science in a non-school environment. Additionally, Ms. Denton does summer camps for science, both at Imagination Station and through her school.  

Ms. Denton does more than teach science.  She encourages all students to be scientists.  From entering their amazing ideas in science competitions, to planning engaging, amazing at-home labs and in-class experiences, to coaching Science Olympiad and Envirothon, to bringing science to the public through the museum, the news, and community outreach, Ms. Denton is just a tireless ball of science energy.  She is a single mom raising three amazing children.  She is showing her students and her own children that learning is a lifelong process and that they can discover new things daily.