BUCKHANNON – Michael Wilson has been selected as the 2021 Teacher of the Year for Upshur County Schools.
On Tuesday, he along with the individual school Teachers of the Year, the Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year, individual school Service Personnel of the Year and retirees were recognized and their accomplishments celebrated during Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting.
Wilson said he has been teaching in Upshur County Schools for seven years and being named Upshur County Teacher of the Year is ‘very humbling.’
“When I first heard I was selected as Teacher of the Year for Buckhannon-Upshur High School, I was really taken back,” Wilson shared. “I told my principal, Jonathon Pollock, it did not hit me until I got home – I was kind of in shock when I first heard it.”
Wilson explained as a teacher, you do your job and you always take actions that are best in the interest of the students.
“Really, you want them to do well and you really do not think about yourself or think about receiving honor or awards,” he said. “During the whole time we have been dealing with COVID since last spring, my goal has been to find a way for things to happen for the students – things like graduation ceremonies, Homecoming and helping students get their work completed.”
He said to make sure students were able to celebrate these important events during a world-wide pandemic, he focused on what was needed and the best approach.
“When I received this award and honor, I was totally humbled and excited because I believe this gives me the opportunity to share what I think is best for students – no matter where we are,” he said. “I am a person who is always looking for fresh ways of approaching issues, and I never let my students just be in a mold. I look at students as individuals and look at how best, as a classroom teacher, to meet their needs.”
Wilson said by looking at the students as individuals, he never uses the same approach from year to year.
“My whole philosophy is care. I am continually reassessing and redirecting and engaging my students,” Wilson said. “Through that process, I find it is important that I always evaluate myself to see how I could better do my job with the next group of students. I want my students to know I am an individual who cares, and I want the best for the students I work with and for the teachers in our county. I hope that shows in everything I do.”
Wilson said community support really helps him in his quest to do the best for his students.
“The community has been very receptive and I appreciate that,” he said.
Prior to coming to the Upshur County School System, Wilson taught in Harrison County. He not only was a math teacher but led the B-UHS Student Council and was the senior class sponsor. He said he is certified to teach both math and English and said he feels it is important to bring all the disciplines into each class to give students a well-rounded education.
“I feel very strong about this. At the high school level, we need to look across the curriculum,” he shared. “In a previous county, I implemented a program where we drew from the resources of other teachers and we showed how to use art in your classroom, as well as English. I use English all of the time because my students need to learn how to understand what they are reading when working with math problems.”
One thing Wilson said he is adamant about is that he does not let his students use a calculator.
“I have found this causes my student to be more proficient and better as they move up to other math levels,” Wilson said. “By the time they go on, they are better prepared because they know their multiplication tables since they do not have a calculator doing that for them.”
Through the years, Wilson has been named the State Executive Director for Student Council, was the State Director for Student Council, was the High School Advisor of the Year four times, was the Executive Director for the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Pageant for 11 years and has won 12 trophies for body building.
The next step for Wilson is completing essays as he competes for West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Last year, the West Virginia Teacher of the Year was Erin Anderson from Tennerton Elementary School in Upshur County.
The Upshur County Teacher of the Year was selected from Teachers of the Year from each school. Those teachers were recognized during Tuesday’s BOE meeting and include Rebecca Squires from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, Adrienne McVey from French Creek Elementary School, Jason Piacente from Hodgesville Elementary School, Shanah Carpenter from Rock Cave Elementary School, Kelley Caynor from Tennerton Elementary School, Deidra Casto from Union Elementary School, Monica Leigh from Washington District Elementary School and Clayton Tenney from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
Elaine Pugh, child nutrition secretary at the Upshur County Schools Central Office, was named the Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year and will represent the Upshur County School System.
Others selected as Service Personnel at their individual schools include Maria Rowan from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, Shawna Dean from French Creek Elementary School, Bryant Akagi from Hodgesville Elementary School, Glenda Fisher from Rock Cave Elementary School, Doug Bennett from Tennerton Elementary School, Cecelia Stewart from Union Elementary School, Irene Miller from Washington District Elementary School, Tammy Kelley from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, Carrie Lee from Buckhannon-Upshur High School and Deborah Poling from the Upshur County Transportation Department.
Finally, 10 retirees from the Upshur County School System were recognized for their years of dedicated service. Those include Kelly Collett, coordinator of accounts payable; Patty Wager, visual arts teacher and track-and-field coach; Duane Stoeckle, social studies teacher and head football coach; Cheryl Mateal Poling, alternative learning teacher; LeAnn Nutter, driver’s education teacher; Sharon Powers, cafeteria manager; Ronald Taylor, custodian III; Michael Hinkle, transitional learning teacher; John Epler, math/STEM teacher; and Sherry Elbon, office secretary.
Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus spoke with My Buckhannon at a celebration prior to Tuesday’s BOE meeting honoring the retirees. Stankus said they were honoring not only those retiring but celebrating the Teachers of the Year and Service Personnel of the Year.
“We have a lot of people in the Upshur County School System who have been here for a lifetime,” Stankus said. “They have served the children and families of Upshur County so tonight is about them and all they have done to give back to the community and to our children. We have a community that has just come together during the entire of the pandemic. The heart of Upshur County is right here in the schools. The schools have been where we fed the children, where we have educated the children, where we have given students one-to-one devices. This is where we did it – in the schools – in every remote community in Upshur County. That is what tonight is about – celebrating all the folks who have come together to give back to our children.”
Food for the reception before the BOE meeting was prepared by the B-UHS Pro Start students.