BUCKHANNON – After much anticipation, Upshur County Schools announced on Tuesday their selection for Upshur County Teacher of the Year and Service Personnel of the Year.
Upshur County School Administrators traveled to Buckhannon Academy Elementary School to announce the Teacher of the Year — Virginia Hicks — and to Hodgesville Elementary School to announce the Service Personnel of the Year on Tuesday, Jessica Grose.
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said these two individuals exemplify the type of personnel in Upshur County Schools.
“Mrs. Hicks’ talents impact the entire school climate,” Stankus said. “Under her leadership, students have been recognized at the county, state and national levels for their artwork. Her influence and enthusiasm for her content inspire young artists.”
Virginia Hicks is an art instructor at BAES and she has 22 years of service with Upshur County students.
“I was here at BAES for eight years before going to Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School for six years and now I am back at BAES,” Hicks said. “This was always my home school.”
Hicks said she always wanted to be an art teacher, even as a young child.
“I was always interested in art, and I always did art,” Hicks said. “I actually have a degree in textile design and did that at first but I had a calling to teach, so I went back to college and got a teaching degree on top of the other degree.”
Hicks said being named Teacher of the Year is so encouraging, especially if you have been teaching for a long time.
“To have this honor bestowed upon you encourages you to keep going,” she said.
BAES Principal Susanne Britton said having Hicks on her staff and named Teacher of the Year is an amazing feat.
“She is an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond for our students,” Britton said. “She uses literature and does artist studies with the kids. She makes connections throughout the county and the community. The work she has the kids do is amazing and uses items such as aluminum foil and watercolors.”
In order to come up with the Upshur County Teacher of the Year and Service Personnel of the Year, each school selected a winner and submitted that name to the county. A selection committee then selected a county-wide winner who will represent the county at the state-level contest.
“In the whole county of Upshur County, where there are more than 4,000 students and over 700 employees, every school had to choose just one teacher, which was hard,” Stankus told the BAES students Tuesday. “We have a lot of good teachers in Upshur County and out of all those teachers, a whole committee got together and they selected one teacher to be the Upshur County Teacher of the Year. That teacher gets to go to Charleston and compete to possibly win as West Virginia Teacher of the Year.”
Hicks told students, staff and personnel gathered at BAES Tuesday that she was so surprised by the announcement of Teacher of the Year.
“I am so grateful that you all came in here today with your banners and signs,” Hicks said. “I love being here and I love being your art teacher. I am grateful you all are great students and I am grateful you love art. I am just so surprised. Thank you all.”
Paraprofessional Jessica Grose, from Hodgesville Elementary School, was named the Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year. Grose has served Upshur County students for more than 11 years.
HES Principal Janet Phillips said it is exciting to have the Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year come from her school.
“They work so hard to get this recognition and it is wonderful,” Phillips said. “All of the kids love Jessica – they call her Miss Jess and they absolutely love her.”
Grose told students she loved them and said she was so excited to be named the Service Personnel of the Year for Upshur County.
“This is a very big honor,” Grose shared. “My favorite part of my job is working with the kids.”
“Mrs. Grose has a positive impact on students and staff,” Stankus said. “Her smile is infectious and her positive attitude changes the learning outcome for our students. She willingly supports wherever she is needed, regardless of the circumstance.”