Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rewind Wednesday: Wonders of West Virginia Celebration

As the song goes, "Oh, what a night!"

I sit here this evening exhausted after a day of school. My school bag is full of papers and projects to grade from when I was out last week. There's a colorful assortment of thank you cards at my feet (I sit on the floor to do just about everything) to deliver to all of those who have expressed their love and congratulations to me over the past few days. I have video to upload from my interviews for my "Be the DifferenceWV" episode I taped this afternoon at Marlowe Elementary. In my head I'm starting to "write" out my lesson plans for next week.

I'm just a teacher, who just found out I represent a lot of other teachers. My head isn't just swimming; it's doing the Olympic backstroke.

For the record, I never expected it to be my name called last week. There are no guarantees in life, and although I wanted this opportunity, I realized that it was just an honor to be there celebrating with those who have supported me immensely throughout my career in Berkeley County Schools. The Clay Center is a beautiful facility, and the Wonders of West Virginia Celebration was a well planned event that recognized the county teachers of the year, Schools of Excellence, and other educators who have received awards in the last school year.
With my parents, Scott and Debbie Lloyd
My husband, Brad

With my principal, Beth McCoy, and the best teacher friend ever, Heather McCain

My former assistant principal at Tomahawk, Lewis Mullenax, also attended, along with our superintendent, Manny Arvon, deputy superintendent, Don Dellinger, and assistant superintendent, Margaret Kursey. Although one of our schools, Hedgesville Elementary, was also being honored that evening as a School of Excellence, that's a lot of people to travel nearly five hours from the Eastern Panhandle. Silly as it may seem, I started to feel very wobbly and shaky once we all sat down and the ceremony began. It was made very clear to me beforehand to prepare a speech "just in case." It all started to sink in that maybe that wasn't "just in case" but "just because."

The food looked absolutely delicious but I hardly ate anything - and I love ooey, gooey deserts. Didn't even touch them. Someone said at one point I looked so white she thought I was going to pass out. I walked up once to be recognized for being the Berkeley County Teacher of the Year, then once more for being one of the four finalists.

And then this happened:
Thank you so much for taking this, Lewis
West Virginia is a state that doesn't always get a lot of positive press. Teachers everyday use their talents and dedication to the profession to do their best to educate our students, regardless of the misconceptions that exist in public opinion. There are thousands of teachers in our state that do incredible things, greater things than I'll ever achieve. It has been a long road for me personally to become the teacher and individual I am today. I wish my aunt Dawn was here to see this.

That's pretty much everything that went through my mind in the following 30 seconds after my name was called out as the West Virginia Teacher of the Year.  

After a quick picture with a banner emblazoned with my name and a beautiful clock handcrafted in Huntington (it's ticking quietly in the background as I type). I gave my prepared "just in case" speech. Standing in front of my peers, some of which were standing themselves, watching from the second floor balcony of the Benedum Grand Lobby, I had a lot of emotion, but also a lot of peace and resolve. I had never met most of the people gathered there that evening, and this was my chance, in the next few minutes, to introduce myself.  Click on this link to go to my acceptance speech. I'm so glad my husband was able to tape it in its entirety.

Needless to say, there were a lot of excited people once the ceremony was over with. Lots of hugs and hurrahs :-) It's the first time in 21 years that the West Virginia Teacher of the Year is from Berkeley County, the first being Beverly Hoffmaster in 1992. I don't quite feel worthy yet, and don't know if I ever will. Right now, I'm swimming my own version of the Olympic backstroke in my head. I can't see where I'm going, but I'm navigating the waters as fast as I can. Here's hoping in the next few days I can say I've touched the shore.
- Erin


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