Teacher of the Year, Other Award Recipients Honored

September 07, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Robert Morris, an agriculture and forestry teacher at Clay County High School, is West Virginia’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. He will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition.


State Superintendent Jorea Marple made the announcement Wednesday night during a ceremony in Charleston that recognized county teachers of the year. The event also honored earlier announced award winners, including the Milken Family Foundation Winner, the Paul J. Morris Character Educator of the Year, the West Virginia School Service Personnel Employee of the Year and four Schools of Excellence.

“It is my distinct privilege to honor such a fine group of educators in our state’s public school system,” Marple said. “Their dedication to their students and their schools has made them worthy of these awards.”

Clay County Superintendent Kenneth Tanner describes Morris’ lessons as “interactive, hands-on, engaging, often high-tech, and allow for differentiation among the wide variety of abilities and learning styles.”

“He is able to teach all students at high levels of mastery,” Tanner said. “His students have won numerous district, state and national awards. Mr. Morris’ performance is truly unique and exemplary.”

Morris, who just began his 24th year in the classroom, has a master’s degree in agriculture and is currently working toward an administrative certificate. He says he knew he had chosen the right profession the first day he walked into a classroom as a student teacher.

“I love teaching and it is something at which I desire to be good,” he said. “I practice and hone my craft the same as any athlete, musician or other impresario.”

As West Virginia’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, Morris will receive an educational technology package valued at nearly $15,000, use of a Toyota car for a year and cash awards from Mountain State Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Horace Mann Insurance.

He was selected by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate six 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 Lee Ann Burton, a second-grade teacher at Monongah Elementary School in Marion County; Kathleen Fox, a music teacher at Center McMechen Elementary School in Marshall County; Isaac Lewis, an agriculture teacher at Hampshire High School in Hampshire County; Mary McClure, a mathematics teacher at Cabell Midland High School in Cabell County; and Mary Palma, a mathematics teacher at Wheeling Middle School in Ohio County.

The Schools of Excellence are selected based on the following criteria: a rigorous and challenging curriculum, a safe and drug-free learning environment, participatory leadership, active teaching and learning, an environment that strengthens teacher skills, documented student achievement and implementing advanced and innovated programs. This year’s winners are Steenrod Elementary, Ohio County; Hurricane Town Elementary and Confidence Elementary, Putnam County; and United Technical Center, Harrison County.

The Milken Award provides public recognition and an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 to teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. This year’s winner is Amanda Mays from J.E. Robins Elementary in Kanawha County.

The Paul  J. Morris Character Educator of the Year Award is named after former West Virginia Board of Education member Paul Morris, who received the first Character Educator of the Year Award in 2003. Morris, who died in 2005, served on the state board for about 25 years. This year’s recipient is Deb Austin Brown of Alban Elementary in Kanawha County.

The 2011 West Virginia Board of Education School Service Personnel Employee of the Year Award honors one person, chosen from aides, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, maintenance workers, office workers and other school service personnel, for his or her contribution to the school and community. This year’s winner is Betty Stepp, a kindergarten aide in McDowell County.

For more information, contact the 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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