STAUNTON – Ten area teachers have been honored with the annual Dawbarn Education Awards for inspiring and encouraging learning in schools. This marks the 27th year the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge has honored a select group of teachers from the public schools of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.
Each individual currently receives $10,000 and the enduring distinction of having been named a Dawbarn Education Award winner.
The Dawbarn Education Awards Ceremony was originally scheduled for April 7 at the Wayne Theatre. It has been postponed until a time when everyone can safely gather to celebrate, a release said.
The foundation instead will celebrate the recipients on May 26 at 3 p.m. with exclusive videos and interviews highlighting their contributions and leadership, a release said.
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The following have been awarded the 2020 Dawbarn Education Award:
Leola Burks — Principal of Berkeley Glenn Elementary School
Burks began her career as a music teacher 31 years ago and has dedicated herself to Waynesboro Public Schools since 1996. She was the director of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra’s Strings School, is the co-founder of the Waynesboro Public Schools summer music camp, and has served on several boards and advisory committees throughout the years, a release said.
She has been named Teacher of the Year twice. Burks “fulfills every role from custodian, lunch server, classroom teacher, all the way up to principal. She will wear the hat of any person in the school simply to help reach the needs of the students. Everything she does is a selfless act of love and kindness,” her nominator said in a release.
Heather Campbell — third grade teacher at Bessie Weller Elementary School
Campbell has taught for eight years and she received her certification in Virginia Children’s Engineering and certification in Mindfulness, a release said. She has been awarded numerous grants to support her classroom and school. She was recognized as Bessie Weller’s Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year and she’s currently working on her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction.
According to the release, a former student wrote the following about Campbell: “I remember from last year when Ms. Campbell picked me to talk at the City Hall building downtown. I did not have a ride so Ms. Campbell picked me up so that I could speak in front of the grown ups. I will never forget how confident and smart she makes me feel.”
Janice Converse — Special Education teacher at Fort Defiance High School
Converse has been in education for 31 years. She founded and directs the Camp Totem program which helps facilitate middle school students’ transition to high school. She shows up to school early and stays late. She is the chairperson for both the SPED Department and for the Pre-Teacher Assistance Team at Fort Defiance High School. She was awarded Special Education Teacher of the Year for the State of Virginia in 2017, a release said.
Her nominator says that she is extremely versatile, being credentialed in social studies, skilled in English, an impressive co-teacher in math, and a righteous strategies teacher, a release said.
Katie Crabtree — School counselor at Fort Defiance High School
Crabtree was the school counselor coordinator at Riverheads High School for the last 13 years. She just finished her first year at Fort Defiance. Not only does she coordinate scholarship programs, standardized tests, orientations, schedules and more, Crabtree creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring to foster a positive climate for learning and personal growth, a release said.
“Katie always had a heavy load of tasks demanding her attention. For Katie, people always came first. Her positivity meant her attention was always in high demand.” said a former co-worker in a release.
Michelle Freed — Math Coach at Bessie Weller Elementary School
Freed has been an educator for 14 years, always creating a culture where learners embrace struggle and resist the desire for instant gratification. Freed was named the Staunton City Schools Teacher of the Year and the Shelburne Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019, the release said.
“She has changed a stigma from ‘I can’t get my students to try’ to ‘I have given my students the opportunity to struggle, engage, and learn from one another’,” her nominator said in a release.
Debra Marston — First grade teacher at Guy K. Stump Elementary School
Marston has been in education for 18 years. She tutors and teaches summer school – sometimes for free. She never misses a PTA event and she spearheads the annual Guy K. Stump SCA float in the Stuarts Draft Christmas Parade for which she has numerous ribbons for winning first prize, the release said.
Her nominator asked her how she has the energy for the enormous responsibilities she carries. Marston said that it isn’t energy that carries her, but the love she has for her students who need someone to love, inspire and encourage them.
Mary Meade — Science teacher at Waynesboro High School
Meade has taught science at Waynesboro High for 28 years and is currently the department lead. She teaches AP biology, which is not taught in all area high schools, which allows WHS students who do not attend Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School to attain college credit, the release said. She has served on numerous state committees learning about curriculum alignment, project based learning opportunities and innovative teaching ideas.
Her nominator said: “Mary Meade is a female teacher in a field that has traditionally been associated with male role models. As such she serves as an inspiration to teenage girls who wish to enter the STEM fields.”
Matthew Rider — Agriculture at Stuarts Draft High School
Rider is the Future Farmers of America advisor at Stuarts Draft High School. He has several individuals in his classes with severe learning disabilities so he routinely modifies his lessons to fit the educational needs of his students, combining skills from core classes such as math, science, English and geography in an interesting hands-on way, a release said. His horticulture classes take care of all of the school grounds by mulching, trimming and weeding. Before coming to education five years ago, Rider was a Sergeant in the US Army, 82nd Airborne.
Katherine Stevey — Science teacher at Kate Collins Middle School
Stevey has been teaching for seven years. She begins each class with life skills discussions about conflict management, communication, how to respond to adversity, empathy and how to become the best version of one’s self, the release said. She eats lunch with the students every day so that she can mentor them about how to rise above the negativity that is so common in middle school. She is the School Improvement Team Chair, the Science Department Chair, and a Registered Behavior Technician. She was awarded the 2018-2019 Waynesboro Public School Teacher of the Year.
Amanda Warren — Director of Nutrition Services for Staunton City Schools
Warrne oversees all aspects of the schools’ nutrition and is directly responsible for the management of day-to-day operations. She is in her fifth year as director. Warren was responsible for Staunton City School’s selection by No Kids Hungry Virginia as a Dorothy McAuliffe School Nutrition Award recipient in 2018 and 2019, the release said.
She was also responsible for Shelburne Middle School’s selection as a recipient of the 2017-2018 Virginia Breakfast Challenge, recognizing the significantly increased participation in the school breakfast program.
In support of Ms. Warren’s nomination, Casey Dickinson of the VA Department of Education added, “Thank you for recognizing nutrition as an integral part of education!”
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