This year’s Durham County Schools Teacher of the Year winner is Lori Khan from Middle College High School at Durham Technical Community College.
Originally from Indianapolis, Khan teaches within the science department and has been teaching for 10 years.
Khan said there was never another career choice in her mind – teaching was always the dream. She enjoys working with her students and watching them grow beyond what they believe they can do.
“Students tend to put a limit on themselves, and once you are able to get them to envision themselves past that limit, they can really take off and come into their own,” Khan said.
In Khan’s opinion, the most difficult task of teaching is always time – she feels like it’s always running out.
The most important thing Khan has learned from her 10 years of teaching is how to be a better person.
“I am facilitating students’ learning environments,” Khan said. “I can’t have a bad day. They have taught me how to take everything in stride and how to do my best with it.”
Mariah MacKinnon, a chemistry student of Khan, said students enjoy Khan’s ability to teach lessons in a unique way and make them more interesting.
“She would always use the term ‘drop it like it’s hot ‘ while teaching stoichiometry,” MacKinnon said. “It made everyone laugh, but it also helped us remember what step was next while solving the problem.”
MacKinnon said that Khan’s class helped her decide to pursue a major of chemistry in her future college career.
Khan led the Science Olympiad team and was inspired when several of her students joined.
Even though science wasn’t their specialty, they reached out for some extra help and immersed themselves in the field.
“They walked in not knowing one of the topics and got some extra help, and they took that and ran with it,” Khan said. “They did such an amazing job that people were commenting on their behavior and their success.”
Simone Wilder, one of Khan’s students and Science Olympiad members, said Khan made chemistry less complicated through hands on explanations.
“Her dedication to teaching the material to us as well as making sure no one got left behind helped me get through a class I was otherwise dreading to take,” Wilder said. “At the end of the class, I can honestly say I enjoyed taking chemistry.”
Wilder credits Khan’s award to the fact that she is a teacher who truly loves her job.
“She is not just a teacher. She is still a student, meaning she is still pushing herself to explore what science offers,” Wilder said. “It has been an honor to have been one of Ms. Khan’s students this year, and her being awarded this distinction is well deserved.”
Khan sees the award as both an honor and a step toward progress.
“Representing the district is a huge honor for me,” Khan said. “All of the teachers are working really hard for our students every day, and that makes me excited to see the district growing.”