Erica Hammond: West End Elementary Teacher of Year

West End Teacher of the Year Erica Hammond with her fourth grade class. Maggie Beamguard/SLI


Insider Editor

West End Elementary School announced fourth grade teacher Erica Hammond as this year’s Teacher of the Year.

Teachers of the Year are chosen in each school by the teachers themselves using criteria established by the school district, including: making a significant contribution to the total school program, involvement in the community, demonstrating knowledge and best classroom practices that meet the needs of all students. 

“Mrs. Hammond embodies all of the characteristics of what it means to be a true Warrior Leader,” Principal Katie Lockamy said. “Building relationships with her students is her top priority and this pays off tremendously with their academic success. Our WEE Warriors are truly blessed to have her.”

The celebrated educator participated in a Q&A with the Seven Lakes Insider, describing her teaching career that started at West End Elementary School 14 years ago.

Where did you go to school? 

My college degree is from UNC Charlotte, but I grew up here in Moore County. I’m a product of Moore County schools.

What grade do you teach?

I’m currently teaching fourth grade. I have also taught first, second and third grades. And I was one of the teachers who taught virtually for a year during the pandemic for the county.

What was it like to teach virtually? 

That was a great experience. It was neat to get to work with multiple schools. You get to see the big picture, to see your kids from all across the county. And they did really well.

What is your favorite subject to teach?

I’m a reading person. I have a big love of theater which influences how I read. Reading should be animated and done with enthusiasm. 

How do you make learning fun for your students?

I try to find ways to make them engaged and a part of the process so they take ownership of that. When that’s the case, it makes it more valuable to them. We just finished “James and Giant Peach” the last nine weeks. Now we’re doing “Stuart Little,” and exposing them to different types of media.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

My mom is a teacher’s assistant, so I grew up in the school setting. When I was old enough to figure out what I wanted to do, I knew I had to do something with kids. That was just what I was drawn to, and I was very blessed with some really incredible teachers throughout my education. What better job could I have to impact the lives of kids in a positive manner? 

What do you love most about teaching?

Oh the kids! The kids. They’re just incredible people. They’re positive. They’re optimistic. They’re creative. They’re excited to be here and to learn.

What is a cherished memory you have from your years of teaching? 

Something I treasure is when I see students who are now in high school or college, and they say “do you remember when?” or “I loved your class.” I’m so grateful. Knowing that they remembered something special about me or special about our classroom environment is pretty profound to me.

What is one lesson that you would like to impart on your students?

I think the biggest lesson that I would like to impart on my students is the value in each other and in themselves. I teach academics, but also kindness, respect and value — not just for others — but for yourself. I see a lot of blossoming that happens, a lot of confidence that comes throughout my school year. Good teachers can make such an important difference when kids know that their teacher believes in them. And they believe in themselves as a result.

What is your favorite part of the day?

First thing in the morning! I always share either a quote I’ve heard or a short story – a motivator, and they share with me. It’s kind of like family time, just five or ten minutes with each other to get our day going.

What is the best school snack? 

The best snack for school is granola bars. I would say fish the goldfish. However I tend to step on and sweep a lot of goldfish. I’m going to go with something not so messy.

What do you love about teaching at West End Elementary School?

It’s really, truly one of the best places to be. It’s the students. It’s the parents. It’s the staff. It’s the combination of all those things. I knew when I started here, before I ever got married, that I wanted my kids someday to come here and they’re here now, a second grader and a third grader and next year, kindergarten.

What is your catchphrase?

I tell my students “we don’t get what we wish for, we get what we work for.” And if you want it, you’re gonna have to work for it. And now they’re saying it to each other!

What is the biggest challenge you face in the classroom? 

Quite often, it’s finding the thing that keeps them engaged. The kids have technology at their fingertips. They’re used to receiving information so quickly. So the process of working through something can almost seem daunting for them sometimes because we are used to immediate satisfaction, immediate answers. 

What do you do when you are not teaching? 

I love to read. I’m always with my kids and my husband whether we’re outdoors or movies or bowling. We’re big on our family activities.

What feeds your soul in this line of work?

Knowing that I can make a difference, however small that might be or however large. I have the ability to make their day better. I don’t always know where they’re coming from or what they’re. You know what life looks like outside of the classroom, but I can ensure what it looks like inside the classroom.

Contact Maggie Beamguard at