Monongalia County Teacher Named Teacher of the Year

September 09, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gretchen Shaffer,a math teacher at Morgantown High School in Monongalia County, is West Virginia’s 2010 Teacher of the Year. She will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

State Superintendent Steve Paine made the announcement during a ceremony that recognized county teachers of the year on Wednesday night at the Charleston Marriott Town Center.

“It is my distinct privilege to honor such a fine educator in our state’s public school system,” Paine said. “Gretchen’s dedication to her students and to incorporating 21st century learning skills into her classroom has made her worthy of this award.”

Shaffer earned her National Board Teaching Certification in Adolescent and Young Adulthood Mathematics in 2008. She received the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award earlier this year and is one of West Virginia’s model teachers in algebra and geometry. She also created an afterschool ACT/SAT prep class that has helped many students increase their scores enough to qualify for the PROMISE Scholarship.

“My greatest accomplishment is my desire for and ability to build relationships with all of my students – not just the ones who fit a certain mold,” Shaffer said in her application. “I do not categorize my students. I love them all and strongly believe they can learn and deserve to be taught in challenging ways.”

Shaffer began her teaching career in 2002 in Maryland before moving to Morgantown High School in 2005. She has a master’s degree in education from Frostburg State University and a bachelor degree in speech pathology and audiology from West Virginia University, where she was awarded the Order of Augusta medal, given to the top eight graduation seniors. She also was named one of 30 outstanding seniors by the WVU Foundation.

One letter cannot adequately describe the professionalism, talented teaching, student mentoring and student engagement that takes place in Gretchen’s classroom,” Nancy Napolillo, Monongalia County’s director of secondary education and technology, said in a recommendation letter. “Her true understanding of the content coupled with her use of technology, real world problems, high standards and relationships with students is invaluable to the Morgantown High School students, parents and community.”

Shaffer was chosen to participate in the West Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher Leadership Institute in 2007 and has written Problem Based Learning units that are included in the department’s Teach21 Web site. She also is sponsor of Morgantown High School’s Student Council.

As West Virginia’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, Shaffer will receive an educational technology package valued at approximately $14,300. She was selected by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate nine finalists who were their county Teacher of the Year winners. Teacher of the Year, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country, granting its first national award in 1952. West Virginia has participated in the program since 1964.

Other finalists were Rhonda Chuyka, a science teacher at Midland Trail High School, Fayette County; Juanita Spinks, an English teacher at Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County; Edward Evans, a science teacher at Mount View High School, McDowell County; Shelia Toth, a second grade teacher at Barrackville Elementary School, Marion County; Deborah Six, a kindergarten teacher at Lashmeet/Matoaka School, Mercer County; Sandra Shaw, an art teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Raleigh County; Julie Reneau, a special education teacher at Taylor County Middle School; and Joseph Smith, a physical education teacher at Vienna Elementary School, Wood County.

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