New Student and Educator Award Announced for Stars of Ed Gala

WakeEd Partnership recently announced the creation of a new teacher award for one Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) teacher – the Star Among Us Award; and the creation of a new student award for one WCPSS senior high school student – the Emerging Star Award. Both awards will include a $5,000 prize for each recipient and will be presented on October 12, 2023, at WakeEd’s 10th Annual Stars of Education Gala.


The Emerging Star Award is being presented by Wolfspeed to Sanderson High School senior: Benjamin Cashwell. Benjamin is a vibrant member of his school community engaging with organizations such as DECA and has worked to expand his outreach and impact to the larger Wake County community, through his endeavors with equity work, including the WCPSS Steering Committee for the Equity Team. Students were nominated by their administrative staff, with input from teachers and other staff members across WCPSS’s high schools. There were 40 nominations total, with 10 finalists including Mr. Cashwell.

The Star Among Us Award is being presented by Equitable to WCPSS Hilburn Drive Academy School’s: Amanda Hummel. Mrs. Hummel is the school’s Pre-K Special Education teacher and plays a significant role in the lives of families, the school community, and Wake County. During her tenure, Mrs. Hummel has worked to support her students and their families with gaining access to life-changing supports, such as specialized wheelchairs and other adaptive resources, as well as through her work in helping to establish and expand access through the implementation of adaptive resources and materials at her school. Teachers were nominated through an open-community nomination process. During this time, over 900 nominations from across the district were submitted. Teachers nominated self-selected to participate further in the process. In the end, 9 finalists were selected including Ms. Hummel.


In continuing the process of elevating the works and successes of educators, the Emerging Star Award and the Star Among Us Award will be presented each year alongside the Friend of Education Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, and the WCPSS Hall of Fame inductees.


“It is a tremendous thrill to be able to utilize a platform like the Stars of Education gala to elevate and amplify the powerful work that both our students and teachers are continuing to have on our communities,” said Douglas Price, Director of Programs, WakeEd Partnership.

Both the Emerging Star and Star Among Us awards are honors that are designed to recognize the brilliance of one high school senior and one K-12 educator from the WCPSS district, respectively, who have a strong presence within their school communities, and their communities-at-large.  


WakeEd Partnership is continuing to celebrate its 40th Anniversary this year. In addition, WakeEd’s annual Stars of Education Gala will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary on October 12, 2023, held this year at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information about WakeEd’s Stars of Education Gala, including tickets, tables, and sponsorships available, visit:  

About WakeEd Partnership  

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023, WakeEd Partnership (WakeEd) is a leading independent nonprofit backed by business and community leaders to support the teachers, students, and families of Wake County Public Schools. Since 1983, WakeEd has been committed to improving public education and advocating for excellent educational opportunities for all students. For more information, please visit

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