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Outstanding Teachers Receive $25,000 McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence

RADFORD -- Allyson Willis, a teacher at Watauga Elementary School in Washington County, and Steven Sizemore, a teacher at William Byrd Middle School in Roanoke County, were honored as the 2010 recipients of the prestigious McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence during the “11th Annual McGlothlin Awards” ceremony held Tuesday, April 13 at Radford University.

Willis is a veteran educator with 15 years of experience, including a recent third grade teaching experience where her class achieved 100 percent pass rates for reading, science, math and social studies. Now a second grade teacher, she is again motivating her students with high expectations supported by strong classroom relationships. She believes that teaching and learning is all about relationships, where classrooms and colleagues are communities of learners.

Sizemore, a sixth grade history teacher and a graduate student at RU, embraces technology tools in his classroom. He has developed an extensive class website, and frequently uses computer learning games and an interactive whiteboard to engage his students. Sizemore has also used Skype and an Internet communications tool to connect live with classrooms in Richmond and Charlottesville where students were studying the same history content.

McGlothlin Award Winners 2010 “All McGlothlin winners, including each of this year’s six finalists, make a world of difference in educating the children in our region,” said Thomas D. McGlothlin, president of the Bristol, Virginia-based McGlothlin Foundation. “Our foundation created an award for teaching excellence because we know how much the future of our region depends on education. We want to keep the best teachers in the profession and to positively influence all teachers by demonstrating how much their community values what they do for us all,” he said.

IN THE PHOTO: McGlothlin award winners Steven Sizemore, left, and Allyson Willis, second from right, with RU President Penelope W. Kyle and McGlothlin Foundation President Thomas McGlothlin.)

During welcoming remarks, RU President Penelope W. Kyle said the university was honored to help host the awards ceremony. “This could not have been done without Tom McGlothlin,” said Kyle, congratulating the McGlothlin Foundation for supporting a program that inspires excellence in education and recognizes “the best of the best.”

The awards rank among the largest individual teaching awards in the nation and are available only to educators from selected parts of Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky. Each year two award winners, one teaching in grades K-5 and one in grades 6-12, receive $25,000 each, with the stipulation that $10,000 must be used, within a year, for international travel and/or study to broaden the thinking and experience of the winning teachers and further enhance their excellence as professional educators.

The six finalists for the 2010 awards were Sizemore, Willis, Jennifer Barger, Glenvar Elementary School, Roanoke County; Larry Elkins, Price’s Fork Elementary School, Montgomery County; Susan Hampton, Virginia Middle School, Bristol City Schools; and Sharon Hill, Glenvar Middle School, Roanoke County. Each finalist received a check of at least $1,000.

Wade Whitehead, a teacher at Crystal Spring Elementary School in Roanoke and previous McGlothlin award winner, was guest speaker. In 2003, he and wife Robbie traveled to Italy and Greece, where he studied the roots of western civilization. In 2004, they explored the Yucatan Peninsula. Whitehead has researched the impact that teachers have on students. His data indicates a majority of the impact on children’s success comes from home and parents. School influence is slightly less. Of school influence, small class size makes a small but certain impact. The overwhelming majority of school influence on a child is attributable to “teacher quality.”

Since 1999 Blue Ridge PBS has worked alongside the McGlothlin Foundation to administer the awards. For the past eight years RU has partnered with the McGlothlin Foundation and Blue Ridge PBS in hosting the McGlothlin Celebration of Teaching and the McGlothlin Awards Ceremony.

WBRA Vice President of Education Services Linda Pharis, who was instrumental in establishing the awards, will retire later this year and was recognized for her years of service to the McGlothlin Teaching Awards with a resolution from the Foundation and check from previous award winners honoring her service.

April 15, 2010
Contact: Bonnie Q. Erickson (broberts@radford.edu; 540-831-5804)

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