McGlothlin Awards Go to Two Southwest Virginia Teachers

An elementary teacher in Roanoke County and a secondary teacher in the city of Lynchburg were awarded $25,000 each Thursday as winners of the 13th Annual McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Katherine Lear, who teaches at Penn Forest Elementary in the Roanoke County Public Schools, and Thomas Foster, who teaches at Paul L. Dunbar Middle School for Innovation in the Lynchburg City Schools, received their awards at a ceremony on the Radford University campus. The annual event is administered by Blue Ridge Public Television.

Lear and Foster were chosen from six semifinalists. Runners-up were Jennifer Shamy, Roanoke Academy for Math and Science, Roanoke City Public Schools; Stephanie Johnston, Kipps Elementary, Montgomery County Public Schools; Stephen Biscotte, Cave Spring High, Roanoke County Public Schools; and Evandro Valente, Tennessee High, Bristol (Tenn.) City Public Schools. Each runner-up received $1,000.

Award recipients with president

Left to right: Katherine Lear, 2012 McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence recipient; Pat Shoemaker, dean of the RU College of Education and Human Development; Tom McGlothlin, president of the McGlothlin Foundation; Penelope W. Kyle, president of Radford University; Thomas Foster, 2012 McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence recipient; and James Baum, president and CEO of Blue Ridge PBS.

In her welcoming remarks, Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle thanked Tom McGlothlin, president of the McGlothlin Foundation, for his dedication to enhancing the quality of life for citizens of the Blue Ridge region. "I can't say enough about what the McGlothlin family has done to promote health care, education and the arts in this region," she said. "Your generosity has enhanced the lives of so many people."

Keynote speaker for the awards ceremony was Ken Carter, whose teaching career was portrayed in the film "Coach Carter" starring Samuel L. Jackson. Introduced by Radford Men's Basketball Coach Mike Jones, Carter made his entrance from the back of the auditorium, tossing copies of his DVD to the audience as he came to the stage.

Coach Ken Carter

Coach Ken Carter addresses the audience during the 13th Annual McGlothlin Celebration of Teaching ceremony as the award’s semifinalists look on. Carter praised teachers as practitioners of the most important profession in the world.

In an animated speech, Carter paced, gestured and prompted audience responses. "Knowledge is not power," he said. "The use of knowledge is power."

Carter praised teachers as practitioners of the most important profession in the world and congratulated the McGlothlin finalists. "Not all of us can be famous," he said, "but all of us can be great, and these are great teachers."

Before presenting the awards, Tom McGlothlin, president of the McGlothlin Foundation, thanked President James Baum and the staff of Blue Ridge Public Television for their work in administering the program, and President Kyle for hosting the celebration at Radford University. He also thanked Dean Pat Shoemaker of the RU College of Education and Human Development, this year's judges for the awards competition and Carter, whom he said he has wanted to bring to the ceremony since seeing the film "Coach Carter" in 2005.

McGlothlin paid tribute to his mother, Radford alumna and teacher Sally Ann Cook McGlothlin, saying, "Just as my mother believed in the power of education, so do I." His family foundation's annual awards are given to teachers, he said, "certifying how much they are valued for their hard work and their commitment to their students."

He then presented the top 2012 awards to Lear and Foster. In accepting her check and trophy, Lear said she plans to visit ancient cities, including Rome, Athens and Pompeii. Foster said he hopes to visit Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

The McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence go to educators from the Appalachian region of Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky. The winners must use $10,000 of their $25,000 prizes within a year for international travel or study to broaden their thinking and experience and to further enhance their excellence as professional educators. The awards recognize full-time classroom teachers with at least five years of experience.

Established in Bristol in 1998, the McGlothlin Foundation supports a number of programs in higher education, health care and the arts across the region. Its giving in the latest fiscal year totaled nearly $860,000. The annual teaching awards are co-sponsored by the foundation, Blue Ridge Public Television, the Radford University College of Education and Human Development and the Radford University Foundation Inc.

Apr 20, 2012
Deanne Estrada