For a dozen years, Allison Adkins has been teaching middle school math.
“I have been teaching since August 2007 and all 12 years have been at Pineville Middle School,” Adkins said.
Adkins is the Wyoming County Teacher of the Year. She was honored by county schools officials during the recent board of education meeting.
She was also presented with a $1,000 cash award by Jeff Halsey, owner of Pineville Furniture and Appliance Company. Halsey has been making the annual award to honor the county Teacher of the Year for nearly two decades.
“I never dreamed that I would teach math, because I didn’t always enjoy math in school.”
Math didn’t always come easy for her, she explained.
“The fact that I teach it now is nothing short of amazing really,” she believes.
Education wasn't always Adkins' career path, either.
“From the time I was little, I wanted to be the next Dr. Eileen Catterson and help children in a medical way.”
Catterson, who passed away earlier this year, was a beloved pediatrician in Wyoming County for many years. The Pineville Children's Clinic, where she practiced, was renamed in her honor as the Tug River/Catterson Health Center.
“However, I realized that not liking blood, hospitals, and emergency rooms meant that being a pediatrician probably wasn’t the perfect career path for me,” Adkins said with a laugh.
“I love helping kids,” she emphasized. “Teaching can be a challenge with issues that we face daily – opioid crisis, poverty, decline in jobs, grandparents raising kids, etc. So to know that my classroom has been a safe learning environment for students makes me feel like I am doing a good thing."
She said she's had a lot of kids come through her room who needed more than just math skills —"They needed loved, encouraged, a cheerleader."
Adkins said, "Teaching has allowed me to be all of those things for every kid – that alone makes this career rewarding.
“There is truly nothing else I could ever think of doing but teaching.”
• • •
Adkins holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Concord University as well as a master’s degree as a reading specialist from Marshall University Graduate College.
She enjoys swimming, spending time with her boyfriend, and playing the piano at her church in her leisure time.
Adkins was “floored” when told she'd been named the Wyoming County Teacher of the Year.
“I never dreamed that I would be given this honor,” she said.
“One thing that I am most proud of is to be a part of the education system in Wyoming County. I grew up in Pineville and, while I do not live here now, it will always be my home.
“Wyoming County rarely makes the news for positive things, but one thing we know for certain is that above anything else, we are a family.
“School rivals are exciting and very competitive, but when push comes to shove, Wyoming County people pull together and stay united; however, this doesn’t just apply to the school system, but for whatever comes our way."
Wyoming County natives and residents "embrace their differences, cling to their roots, and keep Wyoming County pride close to their hearts," Adkins said.
“I never regret telling anyone where I am from – this county made me who I am today and being recognized as their Teacher of the Year is a title I will never forget,” she said.
• • •
One criticism about her job is the lack of support teachers receive on a state level.
"West Virginia, not just Wyoming County, has so many wonderful people who are making a difference every single day in the lives of their school kids and, yet, it isn’t enough and doesn’t seem like it will ever be enough," Adkins said.
“I would imagine that if the individuals making new laws for education would visit schools all over the state, they would find that what teachers need is simply a pat on the back, a 'Good job,' an 'Atta boy.'"
She said teachers are doing their best with the resources they have.
“Kids are learning, and graduating, and thriving in a world that seems so against younger generations. Kids are making a positive name for themselves and a lot are beating the odds – putting aside those circumstances they were dealt and succeeding.
“How is that possible if our education system is of such poor quality?"
Adkins said teachers have also beat the odds. She said they have realized that regardless of test scores, national rankings, and the people determined to make education impossible, "Kids come first. Plain and simple."
She emphasized, “Every child in our schools deserves a quality education no matter what.
“My prayer is that very soon, they allow us to teach and decide what our kids need. We know them, love them, and couldn’t be prouder of the people they are becoming.”