CHARLESTON, W.Va. –The 2011 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Drema McNeal, is speeding ahead with her responsibilities as the state’s top educator. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Thursday joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia and Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield to present McNeal with keys to a brand new Toyota Prius and $5,000.
“Our state teachers dedicate themselves to molding the minds of tomorrow,” Tomblin said. “I am so proud of our Teacher of the Year and these gifts are only a small token of appreciation for what Drema gives to her students daily.”
Each year Toyota donates a brand new car to the state teacher of the year, who can use the vehicle for a year as she or he travels the state.
“As a West Virginia company, Toyota's long-term success depends on the availability of well trained, well educated team members. This event allows us to recognize and say thank you to all West Virginia's teachers who are preparing our future work force,” said Mike Lutz, general manager for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in West Virginia. “On behalf of the 1,000 exceptional team members at our Buffalo manufacturing facility, it is with great pleasure that we recognize the significant contributions that Drema McNeal has and will continue to make to West Virginia students as our 2011 Teacher of the Year.”
In addition, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield presented McNeal with a $5,000 check to spend as she wishes.
"The future of both our state and country rest in the hands of today's youth,” said Fred Earley, Mountain State’s president. “To ensure our children are prepared for this task, it is essential that both parents and educators play a significant role in molding our students to become the leaders of tomorrow. We are always pleased to be able to assist in rewarding our state's teachers who exemplify the outstanding qualifications and dedication to students that Ms. McNeal has possessed over the past few years. She is truly a role model for our children."
McNeal, a National Board Certified sixth grade language arts teacher at Park Middle School in Beckley, Raleigh County. McNeal, who is in her 24th year in the classroom, will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She has a master’s degree plus 60 credit hours and is an award-winning author.
McNeal’s principal, Marsha Smith, described her as a “creative, original and innovative” teacher who brings learning to life for her students regardless of background or learning ability. Smith said McNeal is not only an effective classroom communicator but also is a published author who still finds time to volunteer for causes that aid children and families.
McNeal was selected by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate finalists who were their county Teacher of the Year winners. The Teacher of the Year is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country. West Virginia granted its first award in 1964.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.
--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called “Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.
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