DeAnna C. FingerDeAnna C. Finger
Tuttle Elementary School
Catawba County Schools
Catawba, North Carolina

DeAnna Finger faced severe tensions a few years ago when school system leaders formed her new school’s population from three different communities. The new school community included several families who had to cross district lines to get to the building. Yet Finger has led Tuttle Elementary to forge a strong and positive identity since it opened in 2006. In just three years, Tuttle Elementary has become one of the three top-performing elementary schools in its county. Finger not only met the challenge of hiring an all-new staff for her school, but she has cultivated high morale, high motivation, and high energy among teachers. “My enthusiasm for learning has led me to create one of the most highly motivated staffs in North Carolina as well as some of the highest-achieving students,” she says. Today her rural school has 502 students, of whom 45 percent live in low-income households. Finger implemented a schoolwide program that enables staff members to monitor students’ learning progress and provide instructional interventions when they struggle. Other schools in the county and state have followed Tuttle Elementary’s lead in implementing the program. Finger also has been a county trailblazer in her work as a trainer in math instruction. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree from Gardner Webb University in North Carolina.