McGlothlin Awards honors teaching excellence

From left: Alice Watson, James Baum, president and CEO of Blue Ridge Public Television, and Stephanie Miller.

Two outstanding teachers were honored as winners of the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony April 7 at Radford University.

The McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence, now in its 17th year, annually honors two of the Blue Ridge region's best teachers. This year, Alice Watson, an elementary music teacher at Leesville Road Elementary School in Campbell County, won the elementary category. Stephanie Miller, a math teacher at Colonial Heights Middle School in Kingsport, Tennessee, won in the secondary category.

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

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

“I’d like to congratulate all 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.”

The McGlothlin award winners must use a portion of their $25,000 prizes within a year for international travel and study to broaden their thinking and experiences, and to further enhance their excellence as professional educators.

Miller said she plans to “expand the classroom walls” at her school by using a portion of the prize winnings to travel to Switzerland. “My students will be able to participate in that experience with me by calculating exchange rates, finding the scale ratio of the Alps compared to our Smokey Mountains and using menus and prices to determine discounts, taxes and tips, like we do in our classroom every day.”

When accepting her award, Watson said she was “overwhelmed” and excited about the opportunities it provides.

“This process has sharpened my focus and caused me to reflect upon and analyze my teaching at a deeper level than ever before,” Watson said. “This journey has developed my tenacity and perseverance.”

James Baum, president and chief executive officer of Blue Ridge PBS, said teachers who have won previous McGlothlin awards “have nearly covered the earth” thanks to the foundation’s generosity.

“The McGlothlin Foundation brings the world to our classrooms by sending teachers as ambassadors,” Baum said. “They bring the world’s ideas, sights and sounds… everything back to the students who may never travel outside their hometown. McGlothlin teachers link us to the world and make a place for the imagination to grow.”

Liz Murray, author of "Breaking Night" and the subject of the Lifetime movie "From Homeless to Harvard," delivered the evening’s keynote address.

Murray has been the recipient of the White House Project’s Role Model Award and Oprah Winfrey’s first-ever "Chutzpah Award." Her memoir, "Breaking Night," landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list within a week of its release and quickly became an international best-seller published in 12 countries, in eight languages.

Before introducing Murray, Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle said it was an honor and “fitting” for Radford to host the ceremony each year.

"Radford was founded in 1910 with the purpose of educating and preparing young women to become teachers. Much progress has been made since that time on our campus and in the teaching profession," Kyle said. "One value remains the same: the importance of education in our society and the profound impact of those teachers who are dedicated to what happens in their classrooms. And tonight’s award winners demonstrate all of this."

McGlothlin thanked Kyle, who is retiring in June, for her dedication to the awards. "All these years and you've never missed one," he said to the president. "We certainly appreciate it and you have been right here supporting us. We wish you the very best in your retirement or whatever you choose."

Many previous award winners attended the ceremony, and McGlothlin acknowledged and thanked them for their dedication to their students and their profession.

"Your travels have brought so many new things to your students, including teachers from other countries to teach in your classrooms and your experiences of teaching in their classrooms," McGlothlin said. "The knowledge you’ve brought back from personally seeing foreign lands, the friends you’ve made, the pen pal friends your students have made and what you’ve shared with your colleagues, and even a couple programs broadcasted on PBS. I’m very, very proud of all of our winners."

Apr 15, 2016
Chad Osborne