ELKINS – Although the sixth annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner was canceled, Davis & Elkins College students were recognized in a virtual ceremony for their exemplary performance during their student teaching experience. Hosted by the Davis & Elkins College Teacher Education program, the annual dinner serves as an expression of gratitude to administrators, teachers, faculty and D&E students who work with teacher education throughout the school year.
Student teacher awards were presented to Skylee Watson of Elkins and Hannah Shiflett of Beverly, both student teachers at Midland Elementary School, and Leenette Fincham of Huttonsville, a student teacher at George Ward Elementary School. This year’s event also included academic awards for students excelling in the D&E Teacher Education program. Recipients were Watson, Shiflett, Jonna Burnside of Hambleton, and Michelle Murphy of Durbin.
Prior to the spring semester moving online, area cooperating teachers who had a student teacher in their classroom were sent nomination forms for this year’s “Outstanding Student Teacher.” Teachers were asked to discuss things such as the student teachers’ cooperative attitude, love for the teaching profession, enthusiasm and knowledge of content.
Christi Phillips, a first-grade teacher at George Ward Elementary School, nominated Fincham, describing her as an energetic, engaging and passionate teacher.
“She has the rare, internal drive to help learners learn and is determined to do whatever necessary to ensure they are successful,” Phillips wrote. “She has continued to meet the needs of her students during this nationwide crisis by developing paper packets as well as reaching her students through online video conferencing.”
Amanda Belan, a first-grade teacher at Midland Elementary School, nominated Watson based on the strengths in her teaching skills.
“From the moment her student teaching assignment with my class at Midland began, Ms. Skylee Watson adapted well to the environment,” Belan stated in the nomination. “Her ability to connect with her students and her talent to teach simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are both truly superior.”
Shiflett was nominated by Sarah Wamsley, a fourth-grade teacher at Midland Elementary School, who praised her preparedness and articulation.
“Hannah not only excelled at building relationships, she displayed tremendous strength in her pedagogical content knowledge and in her own teaching practice,” Wamsley wrote. “Hannah’s greatest strengths lie in her work ethic, optimism, compassion and flexibility. Hannah has a drive and seriousness.”
The student teachers also were asked to share a few comments about their cooperating teachers and their experiences gained teaching in their classrooms.
Michael Holstein, who served as a student teacher with Cortney Price in physical education at Third Ward Elementary School, said, “Ms. Prices’ intelligence, dedication and empathy to the teaching profession has grown on me. I’m blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and teach alongside her. She has provided me with guidance in areas that I’ve struggled with. Her honesty and love for the students reminded me why I inspired to become a teacher.”
Burnside expressed praise for Kim McCrum, her cooperating teacher in the third-grade classroom at Tucker Valley Elementary Middle School.
“From the moment I walked into Ms. McCrum’s classroom, I was treated as an equal,” Burnside said. “She listened to my ideas, gave me guidance and assistance on all of my endeavors within the classroom, and would let me try different things within – no matter how ambitious or crazy they seemed at the time. She is constantly changing things up, researching the best instructional practices, and evolving her teaching style to meet the needs of her students. Her students always come first.”
This year, D&E Teacher Education had more than 100 placements in Randolph and Tucker County schools with students clocking more than 10,000 hours in various classrooms co-teaching, co-planning and full-time teaching duties.
“If it were not for the support of our local schools, our Teacher Education program would not be possible,” said D&E Associate Professor of Education Dr. Jennifer Tesar, who serves as student teacher college supervisor.