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Howard named as teacher of the year

Sep. 23, 2012 @ 12:16 AM

WINFIELD — Putnam County Schools has named its employees of the year for the 2012-2013 school year.

Debra Howard, a physical education teacher at George Washington Middle School, is the Putnam County Schools Teacher of the Year. Buffalo High School Principal Richard Grim is the Administrator of the Year. Don Thornton, Head Custodian at Mountain View Elementary, is the service employee of the year.

Teacher of the Year Howard says her job is about so much more than teaching fundamental sports skills and the rules of the game. Her job is about changing attitudes, and setting her students up for a lifetime of good health.

“I am high energy, intense and enthusiastic,” Howard said in a press release, “and this has enabled me to reach children who may be negative about physical activity. I have an excellent rapport with my students and they know, from my actions, that I truly care about them.”

A graduate of West Virginia University, Howard has been a teacher and coach at George Washington Middle School since 1982. She was been honored for her teaching and leadership a number of times, including having been GW Middle Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2008, and 2012; Putnam County Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2008; and West Virginia Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2001.

She was named PEIA Pathways to Wellness Coordinator of the Year in 2005, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Merit Teacher of the Year in 1990, and West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Regional Coach of the Year in 1990.

“Seeing students blossom from sixth grade to eighth grade and learn to appreciate a pysically active lifestyle…are the rewards I find in teaching,” Howard said.

“Helping students ‘blossom’ for 30 years is reason enough to honor Debbie,” Putnam County Schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said in the release. “Even more importantly, in this age of increasing obesity, she is in the forefront of promoting healthy lifestyles. She helps kids understand the importance and benefits of fitness. That is something that will last a lifetime.”

Administrator of the Year

Principal Grim began his career in Putnam County Schools in 1975, teaching music and mathematics at George Washington Middle School. Thereafter, he served as assistant principal at Hurricane Middle then Hurricane High before taking the helm at Buffalo High in 2004.

His focus on technology, is, in part, what helped him earn the title of Administrator of the Year.

Over a period of several years, Grim’s work with the Council of State School Officers and The Stupsky Institute led to an interest in the innovative New Tech model currently being instituted at Buffalo. After investigating several options for innovative programs to improve teaching and learning, and working with the Putnam County Central Office staff, Buffalo High sought and was awarded an Innovation Zone grant to create a school where, according to Grim, “students are engaged, excited about their learning, understand the relevance of their learning and (are) willing to take responsibility for their own education.”

Superintendent Hatfield said Grim is “always willing to step up and take a leadership role in school and district matters. Buffalo High is taking on a new education model, and without his leadership, I really don’t think it would have happened.”

Grim is a graduate of Poca High School, West Virginia State College, and West Virginia College of Graduate Studies. In 1990, Grim was named George Washington Middle School Teacher of the Year. He has served as a member of the Putnam Technology Committee since its inception, and is a mentor for new administrators. In addition, he was elected both vice president and president of the Putnam County Principal’s Association, was a member of the WVDE 21st Century Classroom Assessment Network, and served on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council.

Service Employee of the Year

As head custodian at Mountain View Elementary, Thornton strives to create a environment in which students can learn and grow. And he knows that maintaining the physical school building is just one of the strategies needed to reach this goal.

“While working to keep the school clean and neat, I model friendliness, character, and responsibility to the students,” Thornton said in a press release. “I greet them with a smile and cheer every day.”

Besides performing the duties required of caring for a large school, Thornton is often asked to accommodate other groups from the district, especially when summer school classes and teacher staff development take over the school. “Don is helpful to everybody,” Mountain View principal Sonya Shue said in the release. “He takes great pride in our building and does everything to make sure that our building is safe and clean at all times. He’s great with the students and teachers, he works hard, and he is always cooperative.”

“You can’t ask for a better worker than Don Thornton,” Hatfield said. “He takes great pride in his school and makes significant contributions to this district.”