2008 Office of Institutional Education Programs
Juvenile Teacher of the Year

Cassandra J. Pratt
Special Education Teacher, J.M. "Chick" Buckbee Juvenile Center

     Cassandra is an instructor at the J.M. “Chick” Buckbee Juvenile Center is Augusta, West Virginia.  Her major subject areas include English, Reading and Social Studies, grade levels 5-12.

     Cassandra writes in her “Teacher of the Year application, “ I have to be honest, I did not set out to become a teacher.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.  When I first entered college I was a double major in history and political science with all intentions of attending Law school.  However, my father said, “If you don’t go to Law school how are you going to make money with a history degree?”  Consequently, I changed my major to Secondary Education in the area of Social Studies.”

     “I consider my greatest contribution to education to be my dedication in working with at-risk or troubled youth.  After working five years in a maximum security juvenile center, I could never imagine myself anywhere else.  I don’t believe that I would be as challenged or as motivated to get my students to learn in a different environment.  Most of my students are in need of significant remediation skills and I am constantly challenged to determine what skill sets they need to graduate or earn a GED.”

     “My philosophy in teaching is simply based on several ideas.  I believe that as a teacher you have to constantly reflect on the success or failure of every lesson and learning strategy.  You also have to develop a relationship of mutual respect between your students and yourself.  In addition, you have to care about your students and their own personal successes and challenges.  Finally, you have to be accepting of your own personal strengths and weaknesses and learn to grow based on that individual knowledge.” 

     “Aside from teaching, my husband and I donate to cancer awareness programs, participate in recycling and other Earth friendly practices, and enjoy membership in a local gym.  Like everyone else, I have my good days and my bad days, but the one thing that I want my students to understand is that we are all human and as such, some things will come easy, while other things may not.”

     The Office of Institutional Education Programs would like you all to share in congratulating Cassandra J. Pratt as the 2009 Juvenile Programs Teacher of the Year.  Daniel Gardner, Principal of Chick Buckbee may have said it best, “I know there are several qualified applicants for teacher of the year, but I don’t think you will find anyone who has the qualifications, determination and dedication, more enthusiasm, compassion and energy than Mrs. Pratt.”