Upshur Co. Educator Receives Award Named in Memory of Former Rocket Boys Teacher

May 11, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Sondra Shaw, a special education teacher at Union Elementary in Upshur County, is the 2011 recipient of the West Virginia Teacher Achievement Award from the Clarksburg-based Prodigy Foundation.
Prodigy also named Union Elementary its 2010-2011 State School of Character.
The achievement award recognizes a West Virginia educator who has overcome challenging obstacles in their career and has had a positive impact on students. The award is in honor of Freida J. Riley, who taught math, science and physics at Big Creek High School during the space race of the 1950s and 1960s, and later died at age 31 from Hodgkin’s disease. She inspired her students to overcome the limited opportunities of their era and environment to aspire to fulfill their dreams. Her students included Homer Hickam, Jimmy Carroll, Roy Lee Cooke, Willie Rose and Quentin Wilson, whose lives were depicted in Hickam’s novel the Rocket Boys and the subsequent film October Sky.
The West Virginia Teacher Achievement Award for West Virginia teachers is sponsored by The Prodigy Foundation, founded in 2006 by Cooke, one of the six original Rocket Boys.
For more information, contact The Prodigy Foundation at 304-622-2157, or the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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