WITN’S Teacher of the Week: Loreen Sumner of East Duplin High School

DUPLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - WITN's Teacher of the Week for April 23 is Loreen Sumner of East Duplin High School in Duplin County

Sumner is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She has taught high school English and/or ESL for more than twenty-five years. She received her ESL certification from East Carolina University and currently teaches ESL classes at East Duplin High School.

"My teaching career has made a full circle in that I began teaching ESL in 1992 and continued for the first few years as an ESL teacher,” Sumner writes. “Eventually, I transferred into the high school English classroom. After teaching twenty years in the high school English classroom, I returned to the ESL classroom in 2015. I have always known that my teaching career was a divine assignment. I believe that teaching is a ‘calling.’ I count it an honor to be a part of the lives of students who are also seeking to fulfill their own destiny. It is so rewarding to think that I have had a small part in helping direct them down their own paths leading to success and a fulfilling life."

The person who nominated Sumner wrote: “Many students coming from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and a variety of other countries come to East Duplin speaking no English. Ms. Sumner works patiently with these students and her classroom becomes their ‘safe place’ at East Duplin as they attend her class twice daily. Ms. Sumner not only works with ‘brand new to this country’ students but teaches English as a second language to other students that have been in this country a few years, but have not yet mastered the language. All of these students are mixed into three classes daily.

Ms. Sumner works tirelessly during her planning period and during her lunch to help ESL students, not in her classes now, with research papers, projects and literature analysis. One student recently stated that ‘I can't believe I am a senior. Because of Ms. Sumner, I am going to graduate from high school. I did not believe it could happen.’

Ms. Sumner goes above and beyond help her students succeed.

Ms. Sumner was the very first ESL teacher in Duplin County in 1992. Ms. Sumner has published a book about one of her first ESL students entitled ‘Oscar Mojica...He Dared Me to Teach Him English.’ The book is a story of Oscar, a young boy coming from Mexico at a young age, hating to be in America. Through Ms. Sumner's encouragement and ‘tough love’ Oscar was able to graduate from East Duplin high school and go on to play soccer at Mount Olive University. Oscar has recently received his Master's degree in Psychology and is also giving back to the community by coaching varsity men’s soccer at East Duplin.

Ms. Sumner's book is used in some of the regular English classrooms at East Duplin. Since over one third of East Duplin's population is Hispanic the book is very effective in helping to encourage all students that if they work hard and believe in themselves, they can accomplish anything.

Ms. Sumner and Oscar Mojica have worked hard together to improve communication between the school and the Hispanic community. They have established a series of "Parent Nights" each year and the parents of the ESL students meet with Ms. Sumner and Oscar Mojica to help these parents understand ways to help their children to be successful in high school and to plan for attending a college or university or to obtain training at local community colleges after high school. Ms. Sumner uses Oscar as an example to show how anything is possible for their children. This has greatly improved parent communication with the school as they now feel more comfortable speaking to the school administration and other teachers about their children.

Ms. Sumner has also worked with the Beta Club (after school) for over twenty-five years, over fifteen years at East Duplin. Not only is she a talented author, but is also a talented musician and songwriter, she has arranged all of the music for the East Duplin Beta Club as they have competed at state and national levels. The East Duplin Beta Club has been in the top five in the nation in the Group Talent competition for over ten years. Ms. Sumner works with the singers and musicians to perfect the performance during weeks of practice before the state and national conventions. The dozens of trophies at the school reflect her efforts.

Ms. Sumner is a precious jewel at East Duplin High School and in the community. She gives so unselfishly of her time and talents to help improve everyone around her. She is well respected by her peers and is loved dearly by all of her students. I do not know of anyone that deserves to be recognized as WITN's Teacher of the Week than Ms. Loreen Sumner. Please recognize her for all that she gives to our community. Not many people make that kind of difference in the world around them.

Congratulations, Ms. Sumner!

Every week during the school year WITN will recognize a Teacher of the Week on WITN News at Sunrise. The winner receives a plaque and $100 Walmart gift card. To nominate your teacher, email TOTW@witn.com.