Carla Neely named Teacher of the Year for State Board of Education District 11

From Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Ohio Department of Education

Carla Neely, a science teacher at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) Warner Girls’ Leadership Academy, has been named the Teacher of the Year for State Board of Education District 11. She and winners in the state board’s 10 other districts now have a chance to be named Ohio Teacher of the Year. The Ohio Department of Education announced the finalists on July 26.

Neely, who teaches fifth and sixth grade, works to provide opportunities for African American girls in elementary and middle school, and has spoken at events that give girls of color increased exposure to computer science. Neely also is a facilitator for the Computer Science Discoveries program. She trains and speaks at events geared toward helping teachers integrate computer science into their instruction and best practices for teaching science to African-American girls. She is one of the winners of the 2021 National Science Teaching Association and Shell Urban Science
Educators Development Award.

She said she chose urban education to make a difference and because the students need teachers “who don’t give up on them.” By teaching elementary and middle school, she seeks to help her students build a foundation for success. “I specifically chose girls because research continuously shows that the percentage of girls in science and STEM is small as compared with boys,” she said. “The percentage of African American girls involved in those subjects and fields is even smaller.”

Neely won a National Science Teachers Association award this year, receiving the Shell Urban Science Educator Development Award, sponsored by the Shell Oil Co. She has also earned the state’s master teacher designation. Neely recently earned the Master Teacher designation and currently is working toward National Board Certification as a middle childhood generalist. In addition, she is part of Concordia University Chicago’s SAIL program in which she is working on earning a Doctorate in Ohio School Leadership. After completion of the program, she will have the opportunity to earn an
Ohio principal license. Neely holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Cleveland State University. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in education with a focus on curriculum and technology from the University of Phoenix.

Neely taught in East Cleveland for 16 years before joining CMSD in 2015.

“CMSD is becoming the face for what urban education should look like,” she said. “I wanted to become a part of that journey.”