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East Chapel Hill’s Brian Link Named 2021-22 Regional Teacher of the Year
Brian Link, Social Justice Civics and Economics teacher at East Chapel Hill High School, and 2021-22 Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Teacher of the Year, has been named the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund North Central Teacher of the Year winner, one of only nine North Carolina Regional Teachers of the Year. CHCCS teachers have earned the honor in back-to-back years. Last year, Eugenia Floyd of Mary Scroggs Elementary School won the same honor before going on to become North Carolina Teacher of the Year.
On December 16, a team from North Carolina Department of Public Instruction joined Ms. Floyd, CHCCS Superintendent Nyah Hamlett and N.C. Sen. Valerie Foushee to make the surprise announcement during a class assembly. During an impromptu acceptance speech, Link reflected on the rich relationships he’s built and sustained with students and colleagues. “The best thing we can possibly do, the most meaningful thing we can do is to recognize that success is a result of WE, the team,” he said.
No stranger to community honors and awards, Link was named a Public School Foundation Chair for Excellence in Teaching High School Social Studies in 2016, a WCHL Hometown Hero in June 2021, and he received a Go Global Borchardt Award, among many other accolades. He is President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Association of Educators and also serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Association of Educators.
Now in his twelfth year of teaching, Link began directing the ECHHS Social Justice Academy in 2011, and in that capacity, he helped develop a curriculum that elevates and amplifies principles of social justice in the community, state and country. In June 2020, NBC Nightly News featured Link and two of his students in a segment titled, “Reexamining U.S. History Textbooks to Promote Equality.”
He often quotes his two class mottos, which he teaches his students every year: “Learning is a relationship” and “effort, not perfection.” In his class assignments and projects, Link strives to center equity, as well as social-emotional awareness. The coursework he assigns is characterized by academic rigor and high expectations, but he understands the importance of helping students avoid fear of failure. In his Teacher of the Year portfolio, Link wrote, “It is my contention that the best way to accelerate learning and raise scores is not by more benchmarks, purchased curriculum or testing but by making learning relevant and fun.”
In addition to teaching Civics and Economics and directing the Social Justice Academy, Link coaches the ECHHS Brain Game/Quiz Bowl team, the Euro Bowl team and the History Bowl team, each of which has won regional and state awards in recent years.
Link earned a B.A. in History and American Studies from Northwestern University, a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a Master's of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Regional Teachers of the Year are chosen for their dedication, implementation of best practices and their ability to motivate students to achieve their highest potential. Link will now advance to the competition for 2022 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year.