By Carra Higgins
For her “superior ability to inspire love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities,” the Raleigh County Board of Education recognized Independence Middle School teacher Natalie Coots as the 2013 Teacher of the Year Tuesday evening.
During the ceremony at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, Coots extended her appreciation to her parents for instilling a positive work ethic, her husband and sons, Larry and Jacob, the “team” at Independence Middle, her own former teachers and other family members who gave her “roots and wings, which every child deserves.”
New River Community and Technical College President Dr. L. Marshall Washington, Ph.D., gave the keynote address and told educators that sometimes, in a fast-paced society, people do not always say they are appreciative of another’s work and dedication. But students, whether now or later, will know how teachers had an influence on their lives.
“The value of what you do every day is beyond measure,” Washington said. “You are making a lasting impact.”
Washington added that just because many students are from different backgrounds, does not mean they cannot learn and it is up to educators and parents to instill work ethic and self-discipline.
“You are unsung heroes,” he told the educators.
To be nominated for the recognition, an educator must have the “respect and admiration of students, parents and co-workers. In the community, as well as the school, they play an active and useful role, often distinguishing themselves as leaders.”
In addition to Coots, the nominees for Teacher of the Year were Susan Rice, Academy of Careers and Technology; Karen Vass, Beckley Elementary; Antonette Mazzella-Gwinn, Beckley-Stratton Middle; Allison Shriver, Bradley Elementary; Tena Dunbar, Clear Fork District Elementary; Erica Pack, Coal City Elementary; Amanda Parks, Crab Orchard Elementary; Rita Turner, Cranberry-Prosperity Elementary; David Turner, Crescent Elementary; Tammy Treadway, Daniels Elementary; Jane Traube, Fairdale Elementary; April Smith, Ghent Elementary; Michelle Blankenship, Hollywood Elementary; Phillip Fondale, Independence High; Angela Meadows, Lester Elementary; Everett Jeremy Rodriguez, Liberty High; Jamie Kinder, Mabscott Elementary; Rose Ann Harvey, Marsh Fork Elementary; Mildred Dancy, Maxwell Hill Elementary; Charlotte Wright, Park Middle; Susan Vandall, Shady Spring Elementary; Elizabeth Hegele, Shady Spring High; Mary Withers, Shady Spring Middle; Amber Hart, Sophia-Soak Creek Elementary; Linda Biggs, Stanaford Elementary; Cynthia Kelley, Stratton Elementary; Susan Byrge, Trap Hill Elementary; and Melinda Wills, Woodrow Wilson High.