TENNERTON – A Tennerton Elementary School fifth-grade teacher put Upshur County Schools on the map after winning the honor of West Virginia Teacher of the Year Tuesday.
So, on Wednesday, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch headed north to Upshur County to celebrate at Erin Anderson’s home school, TES.
The evening prior, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education announced the winner of this year’s West Virginia Teacher of the Year was Erin Anderson.
Burch and the West Virginia Board of Education President Miller Hall made the announcement during a virtual program.
Burch traveled to Tennerton Elementary School on Wednesday, Sept. 30 for an award ceremony for Anderson where she received a plaque, $10,000 in awards, a bouquet of roses and a banner for display.
Burch said he appreciated the turnout and told those gathered at Tennerton Elementary School the Teacher of the Year is just not just a competition.
“In West Virginia, we have one of the longest running Teacher of the Year Programs in the entire nation,” Burch said, adding he thought it was important to bring the Teacher of the Year and the School Service Personnel of the Year together this year. “I think it is important for the public to actually see what these folks have done for our children.”
Burch said all the five finalists were exemplary.
“School is not just a place. School is where our 265,000 children come for all they need,” Burch said. “It’s not just for an education. They rely on teachers like Erin for life. It is their connection with the world. Everything from being fed, to social and emotional needs, to growing up – this building (Tennerton Elementary) means more than just a place to show up to and so we were glad when we got children back into schools.”
Burch congratulated Anderson and presented her with roses, $5,000 from Highmark of West Virginia, $5,000 from Horace Mann, a computer, a plaque and a 2021 Toyota which she will receive in January.
She also received a banner for display naming her the West Virginia Teacher of the Year.
“Highmark is sending each one of our 20,000 teachers in the state a class set of masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face shields and face coverings valued at $500,000,” Burch added.
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said she wanted to thank Burch for coming.
“He has had a personal touch throughout the entire pandemic experience,” Stankus said. “His primary goal during this whole process has been that each West Virginia student has that one caring adult and that we would have eyes on our kids. Mrs. Anderson represents that heart of a teacher and she mentioned it in her interview. She said this school is her ‘happy place’ and being in front of her students is where she finds the most meaning.”
“Mrs. Anderson, you are such a terrific ambassador for what all teachers in our state stand for,” Stankus added. “Education and teaching is more than just coming to this building: It’s you riding the bus to the bus stop and delivering food to the kids during the summer, and it’s showing up when you didn’t have to be there. I just want to say my bet is on you for the National Teacher of the Year because you are amazing. Thank you for all that you stand for and all that you represent in our state.”
Anderson said she feels as if she has come full circle because she attended school as a child at Tennerton Elementary.
“This is my school, and this is where I teach,” Anderson said. “This is where my career began with my teachers, parents and friends. Teachers, I am honored to celebrate and represent all of you and the service personnel I work with every day. Our kids are champions and our parents and our families, are heroes.”
Anderson thanked everyone for their support.
“You know I am not doing this for recognition,” she said. “I just do what I do.”
Burch said Anderson will represent West Virginia at the national level program, noting she will spend the next year on the Superintendent’s Task Force as the lead with Burch.
Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples said she was proud of Anderson.
“Erin Anderson is a very deserving teacher,” Samples said. “She exemplifies what teachers are and what they should do and be.”
Anderson teaches fifth grade and is a 20-year veteran education. She earned her B.A. in elementary education from West Virginia Wesleyan College and her M.A. in reading from West Virginia University.
She is a strong believer in the importance of building relationships with her students inside and out of the classroom.
In 2019, she started ‘Move it Mondays,’ a mileage club that invites students of all abilities to run together in all kinds of weather. She believes this activity not only strengthens relationships but also builds a lifelong love of healthy habits.
Other Teacher of the Year finalists included Michael Knepper, Musselman High School, Berkeley County; Jessica Markwood, Moorefield High School, Hardy County; Meghan Salter, Martha Elementary School, Cabell County; and Lisa Smith, Blennerhassett Elementary School, Wood County.