McGlothlin Awards honors teaching excellence


Jenna Bush Hager was the keynote speaker at the 2015 McGlothlin Awards.

Two outstanding teachers were honored as winners of the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony April 16 at Radford University's Bondurant Auditorium.

The McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence, now in its 16th year, annually honors two of the Blue Ridge region's best teachers. This year, Jalenda Settles, a teacher at Huddleston Elementary School in Bedford County, and Tina Tapp, a teacher at Radford High School, were winners of the elementary and secondary categories, respectively.

Tapp earned a Bachelor of Science in English and teacher certification from Radford University in 1994.

The awards ceremony was sponsored by the McGlothlin Foundation, Blue Ridge PBS and Radford University's College of Education and Human Development.

"We are proud to partner with the McGlothlin Foundation and Blue Ridge PBS for the presentation of the McGlothlin awards," said Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle. "It is our honor to host this prestigious event that recognizes the most noble of professions."

Kyle said the ceremony has become a "highlight of springtime on the Radford campus since the very first year we hosted this event in 2003."


From left: Jenna Bush Hager; Jalenda Settles, Elementary category winner; Thomas D. McGlothlin, president of the McGlothlin Foundation; Tina Tapp, secondary category winner; and Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle.

At the ceremony, Thomas D. McGlothlin, president of the McGlothlin Foundation in Bristol, Virginia, presented Settles and Tapp with checks of $25,000 each and trophies. Four runners-up each received $1,000 and trophies.

"Congratulations to each of you on your accomplishments as educators and on the value your community places upon you as a role model and leader," McGlothlin said. "You are building the bright futures we hope for in our region, and we appreciate you so much."

Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush, a correspondent for NBC's Today show and a former teacher, delivered the keynote address. She said many of her "proudest moments have been in the classroom teaching."

Calling the McGlothlin awards the Oscars for teachers, Hager said that she always knew she wanted to make a difference in people's lives, "and there seemed no better way to change the world than to teach."

Speaking to the award nominees, other teachers in the crowd and to a large group of Radford University students who are aspiring teachers, Hager said "I want to thank you guys for everything you do, to all of the teachers and all of those about to be teachers."

Recalling a moment when someone asked her why she left teaching to work for the Today show, Hager said she responded, "Because teaching is really hard," drawing laughs from the audience. "I think we as a culture don't appreciate how challenging it is, how intellectually stimulating it is and how rewarding it is."


From left: Elementary category winner Jalenda Settles and secondary category winner Tina Tapp.

The McGlothlin award winners must use a portion 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.

Upon receiving the award, Settles said she will travel to Europe for her travel abroad experience. She plans to make video lessons for her students "so they can experience the sights and sounds of Europe." Settles thanked the McGlothlin Foundation for "recognizing a profession that often goes unrecognized."

Tapp applauded the McGlothlin Foundation and Blue Ridge PBS "for inspiring teachers to utilize international travel to broaden our thinking and experiences. When we see more, our students get to see more." Tapp teaches a Holocaust unit in her classroom, she said, and plans to travel to Germany, Poland and Latin America "to follow the journey and show my students what that looked like" from where victims experienced the Holocaust to where many survivors relocated to rebuild their lives.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle recognized Pat Shoemaker, who is stepping down as dean of the College of Education and Human Development after eight years in the role. Shoemaker, who has served at Radford University for 28 years, will return to a faculty position in the college.

"Pat, your passion for excellence and for our students is contagious," Kyle said. "Your guidance of and your consideration for your colleagues is to be commended and your support for the McGlothlin Celebration of Teaching is acknowledged by everybody in this room."

Before the awards ceremony, Hager participated in a Q- and A-session, moderated by President Kyle, with a capacity crowd, mostly made up of education majors, in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium.

Hager enthusiastically answered numerous students' questions, many of which focused on her New York Times bestseller "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," her time spent in Latin America, connecting the classroom to the world and about how her teaching experiences prepared her for a career in television.

"First of all, you have to learn to engage 24 precocious 9-year-olds," she said about teaching. "They were a much harder audience than the people sitting at home having their coffee."

She said through her experiences as a teacher that she is better prepared to handle most anything.

Apr 22, 2015