Greenbrier County Teacher Named West Virginia Teacher of the Year

November 16, 2000

Donna Wertz Ream, a kindergarten and first grade teacher at Lewisburg Elementary School in Greenbrier County, has been named the 2001 West Virginia Teacher of the Year at a ceremony held today at the Charleston Marriott. Principal of the Year honors went to Dan Zirkle of PikeView High in Mercer County.  

State Superintendent Dr. David Stewart made the announcement during the awards program that honored Ream, other county teachers of the year and Principal Zirkle. Ream has been an educator for 15 years and developed two summer "Start with the Arts" programs in Greenbrier County for four and five-year olds. In conjunction with Carnegie Hall's Kids' College, the summer programs help young people develop an early interest in the fine arts.  

"Donna Ream is truly a master teacher," said State Superintendent Dr. David Stewart. "She has researched, developed and presented many science and technology-based thematic units for kindergarten and first grade teachers. I am confident she will represent West Virginia and the other outstanding educators in this state in an exemplary manner." Ream is an active member of the Greenbrier County community where she was one of the original volunteers at the Refuge Visitation Center, a place where children in the midst of custody battles can be safely transferred between parents. She also directs the children's bell choir and adult choir at her local church.  

An avid user of education technology, she serves on the school technology team and the West Virginia High Tech Consortium Training Center. Two of her science units have been published on the Internet. In 1999, Ream was named to the third team in USA Today's All USA Teacher Team of outstanding educators. She has also been the recipient of an Ashland Oil Golden Apple Achieve Award. According to Ream, her style of teaching is that of an "encourager...a believer in a child's ability to do well. I am a constructivist in theory," she says. "I believe this philosophy fits well with my desire to provide an atmosphere that lifts children up."  

Ream was selected from a field of 50 candidates that was narrowed to seven finalists. The state Teacher of the Year is chosen by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate the county nominees.  

The Teacher of the Year program is the longest ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers. It is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc. The finalists were: Paul Lovett, Monroe County; Alice Rowe, Harrison County; Kellan Sarles, Mercer County; Fay Stump, Hancock County; Jeanne Sypolt, Taylor County; and Felicia Westfall, Upshur County.  

The 2001 Principal of the Year is PikeView High's Dan Zirkle. Zirkle has been an educator for 26 years and has been the leader at PikeView for the last nine years. He served as principal at Athens High from 1988-94. He has worked with the Center for Professional Development as a group leader for the Principals' Academy and has worked extensively with the West Virginia Department of Education on school accreditation.  

Under his leadership. PikeView received an award from the Southern Regional Education Board for being one of its top 10 "Most Improved Sites." The school was also awarded a Silver Award for its Healthy and Safe Schools effort.  

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