Freeman Honored As Teacher Of The Year

Former WF-R student and graduate, Freeman was selected by a vote of her peer teachers


Sarah Freeman, right, and Rachel Tunstall, left, meet with students and peers on Curriculum Night Feb. 9. Freeman is the 2022-23 WF High Teacher of the Year.

Throughout the years we’ve all had teachers that have left a lasting impression on us and our development as students and people. This year, English teacher Sarah Freeman was crowned Teacher of the Year, permanently leaving her impression on our school.

“Shocked. Totally shocked and very humbled. It meant the world to me, and I did not see it coming. I am very shy about the whole thing. I don’t necessarily like the publicity that comes with it. Truly humbled and surprised,” Freeman said. 

After attending Appalachian State University, Freeman returned to Wake Forest where her impact can be felt by fellow teachers and administrators. Freeman graduated from Wake Forest-Rolesville in 2004.

“She’s an excellent colleague. I also taught her when she was a student here many years ago. I’ve known her for a long time, and I was really excited when she graduated from college and was looking for a teaching job,” said Geoff Belcher, English department chair.

Assistant Principal Cynthia Simons oversees the English department. 

 “I am so proud of her. She deserves teacher of the year because she is an all around great teacher, from every aspect,” Simons said. “She is passionate about teaching, and she is passionate about her students. She is a risk taker, she is flexible, she really is not afraid to think outside the box. She is that example of what you really look for in a teacher of the year.”

But Freeman didn’t envision this life when she was in high school. 

“Originally, I did not want to be a teacher. I was going to be a nutritionist, but I didn’t do well in my Chemistry classes, so I went back to what I was good at, which was reading books,” Freeman said. “My mom is a teacher, my uncle is a teacher, my dad was a coach, so it kind of ran in the family, and it was my comfort.”

Freeman is not only an English teacher, but she is also the SGA advisor, tasked with planning many events for our school such as Homecoming and Spirit Week. But, it’s her commitment to her students that many have cited as being what sets her apart from the rest of their teachers. 

“I wanna say what stands out to me is her teaching abilities and she doesn’t see color,” junior Shaun Adams said. “You know, she works for everybody, not just one table. She works for everyone to make sure they all get the same education.”

Freeman also earned praise for beginning a new initiative to help English as a Second Language students. 

“She’s an innovative teacher. That showed up in her desire to create the sheltered English program, where we have a class of all ESL students in the same English class because she saw there was a real need to provide additional support and stability for our ESL students,” Belcher said. 

Simons also values Freeman’s “passion and the time she puts in. She really puts the time in at home thinking about what she can do better for her students.” 

Her teaching style creates a safe environment where students can be challenged, and she encourages growth. 

“Cause she is empathetic, and she doesn’t yell at people or belittle them. She creates an open environment where people feel comfortable,” senior Ian Vestal said.

Belcher agrees with Vestal.  

“I think she’s really kind. I think students know that she cares about them and that’s important. She’s not easy either, and she’s going to challenge them. She creates an environment where people feel safe to fail,” Belcher said.

Freeman was asked to describe her own teaching style.  

“I’m not totally sure. I think students would say I’m a little bit laid-back, but I went off the way I saw the students learning best,” Freeman said. “I try to match that vibe in which I give students the autonomy to act accordingly the way that I know they will act, and I trust that they’ll do that, and that gives me freedom to be a little bit more collaborative in my class. I try to have a warm and inviting environment, just a place where they can feel at home, and if they feel that way then we can learn better.” 

Freeman has no plans to slow down and presents a challenge for creativity for those around her.

“I feel like if you’re teacher of the year, you’ve gotta continue being the best, so I think that has set the standard. It’s met my professional goals, so I feel like, at this point, I just have to keep maintaining and trying to keep going higher,” Freeman said.

Simons has observed Freeman’s creative side several times.  

“She keeps me on my toes. I observe her for my observations, and each time I’m there observing her class, she is doing something different for her students. She has taught me how to be creative. She is a born leader, and that’s what we need in the classroom,” Simons said. 

Freeman’s students and peers offered advice for teachers to help them increase their qualities that landed Freeman in her Teacher of the Year position. 

“Just be more optimistic and uplifting of your students, and be less angry at your students,” Vestal said.

“Think outside of the box. She definitely does that. Be a risk taker, and she definitely respects her students. She also definitely demonstrates confidence which is very important,” Simons said. 

“I think it’s key that you can constantly judge your own performance and critique yourself,” Belcher said.  

After Freeman retires, she says she has dreams of having a bookshop where she can just talk with other book lovers. But she wouldn’t trade this job for anything and is appreciative of the experiences that have led her here and the lessons she has learned. 

“I think this idea of acceptance is a big thing. Accepting people, like teachers, students, everybody, learning to accept all these personalities that come into your room. Learning to accept and be open to all these new ideas that come into your room, all these different thoughts. Just having a really big, open mind,” Freeman said.


As Freeman reflected on her experiences that led her to this award, she offered advice to her younger self. 


“Be patient and try new things. I think teaching is an art in a way because it’s trial and error. There will be some lessons that work, some that flop in your face,” Freeman said. “You’ll have some classes that challenge you, some classes you absolutely adore. You just have to ride the wave and go with the journey.”