Schools Name Teacher, Principal of the Year

From left, Jennifer Blake and Debbie Warren. Blake is a third-grade teacher at Carthage Elementary School and Warren is the school's long-time principal.


It was a clean sweep by Carthage Elementary School this year for two of the most prized honors delivered by Moore County Schools.

The district named Jennifer Blake, a third-grade teacher at the school, and longtime Carthage principal Debbie Warren as its 2023-24 teacher of the year and principal of the year, respectively.

The district also named Mark Hildreth, a teacher at Crain’s Creek Middle School, as the alternate teacher of the year.

The three were honored during a banquet at Pinehurst Resort on April 27. A news release announcing the winners was issued Thursday, May 4.

Blake said she was inspired to become a teacher by educators she had growing up. Those teachers helped her through school, hormones, friendships and life. She said they also made her feel seen, loved and capable of success, even when she felt less so. Blake said she wanted to do the same.

The district described Blake as “a highly dedicated professional who strives to make a difference in her students’ lives.”

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive this award,” Blake said after receiving the award. “It will be an honor to represent all of the incredible teachers here tonight as well as the entirety of the teaching community of Moore County. It means so much to me to have the work that I love so much be recognized. My kids are going to be so excited.”

Warren has 36 years of service with Moore County Schools. She began her career as an exceptional children teacher, serving at Robbins, Westmoore and Pinehurst elementary schools. She was honored previously as the Pinehurst Elementary School Teacher of the Year and the district’s Exceptional Children Teacher of the Year.

Warren served as an assistant principal at Southern Pines Elementary, Pinecrest High, and West Pine Middle schools. Most recently, she has served as principal at Aberdeen Elementary, Southern Middle and Carthage Elementary.

Warren said her greatest achievement is in the learning of her students. She said she has worked to instill an atmosphere of continuous learning and improvement for both students and staff.

“Although Ms. Warren’s primary focus is always firmly on supporting students and teachers, she is also an outstanding colleague who is well respected by her peers, and always finds time to offer advice and support if called upon,” the district said in a statement. “She is a leader who exemplifies the term ‘Servant Leader’ and is highly deserving of this recognition.”

“It is such a great honor to be named Moore County Schools Principal of the Year for 2023-24,” Warren said. “I accept this award on behalf of my colleagues. I know how hard they work and the challenges they face each day.

“What makes being a principal so rewarding, are the many positive relationships built with students, their families, staff and community. I will always cherish the individuals who have helped me reach this recognition.”

Hildreth, a language arts teacher at Crain’s Creek Middle School, began teaching 27 years ago, when training on a mimeograph machine and overhead projector were standard.

Hildreth says he is excited for the opportunity to introduce youth to great literature, to see their reactions to the end of “The Lottery” or to witness the first time a student understands poetry.

Blake and Warren will next compete in their respective categories at the regional level.