Greene County Schools’ Julia Gurkin has been on a path to the head of the class for as long as she can remember, maybe longer.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, I’ve always loved helping others,” said Gurkin, the 28-year-old from Ayden who last month was named the school system’s teacher of the year. “Even in elementary school, my mom said, a lot of times the teachers would sit me beside the students that were labeled difficult because I always had that patience and wanting to help others. And I find joy in feeling like I’m helping someone.”

Contact Bobby Burns at and 329.9572.