TENNERTON — Teacher Appreciation Week kicked off with a surprise announcement Monday morning. Tennerton Elementary’s fifth-grade teacher Erin Anderson was already humbled to learn that she had been selected as Teacher of the Year for her school last week, but she was pretty shocked to hear that she had also been chosen as the Upshur County Teacher of the Year.
Under the guise of attending a meeting for a special new planning committee, Anderson was lured to the school with a group of her peers who were all in on the big announcement. Principal Tristen Gray told the teacher as she walked outside the building and saw a small group gathered, “So, there’s actually something really important and super great that we get to announce today.” Anderson beamed as she was presented with a banner in recognition of the honor and officially proclaimed as Upshur County’s Teacher of the Year.
Mrs. Anderson explained that she had attended Tennerton Elementary herself as a young girl and grew up admiring the teaching profession. Now finishing her own 20th year of teaching, Anderson was truly humbled to be the recipient of such a distinguishing award. “I really am surprised right now,” she exclaimed. “It’s overwhelming that my peers – these are some of the more seasoned teachers in the county that teach here – chose me. They are an amazing group of educators and I’m honored to be their choice, and also Upshur County’s choice now.”
“This well-deserved educator, student leader and shaper of young minds has a myriad of training and experiences which have prepared her to be the excellent teacher that she has become. Not only is she deeply involved in teaching, but she is also involved in the extracurricular and leadership activities of her home school and is very active in the community,” Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus said of this year’s honoree.
Anderson described the past couple months without her students in school as heartbreaking. “I just keep doing it because I love it and I’m really missing my kids right now,” Anderson said as she nearly teared up. She explained that it has been very difficult not spending the past several weeks with her fifth graders, and although she is sad not to have been able to finish the year helping them prepare to move on to middle school, Anderson is confident that they have made the best of a difficult situation. Seeing the kids’ faces during their online chats is Anderson’s favorite part of the week and she looks forward to receiving her students’ work and pictures from home.
Anderson said, “It’s been heartbreaking, but interesting at the same time, to be a different kind of teacher.” Anderson said she feels teachers and parents alike will give and receive more credit after the challenges everyone has faced during the school closures. She said, “I’m interested to see how this will impact education… I think we’re going to have a new normal.”
“During the past month, we have all had a time of reflection. One of my lessons learned is the realization of the importance of the relationship between a good teacher and his or her students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a greater understanding that the value of a teacher inspires in ways we can’t quite measure, but we still know their worth is beyond measure,” said Dr. Stankus. “We are all in a place where we can understand the importance of honoring and respecting our experienced Upshur County educators. Truly, teachers build our future! Again, I want to congratulate Mrs. Anderson as she represents all Upshur County teachers in the state competition!”