It is no secret that the teachers of 2020 have had to adjust to a newer way of teaching, not only in class, but in adding the online virtual classes as well.
They have had to learn new technology avenues the government provided to teach their students. Time and patience have been a true virtue for them.
The local Craig Valley VFW Post 4491 has been awarding a “Teacher of the Year” for the last few years as they encourage citizens to submit their favorite teacher and then the VFW chooses from the admissions.
Math teacher Donna Deplazes was chosen as Craig County High School teacher of the Year.
The nominee shared, “It is my distinct honor to recommend to the VFW Post 4491 for the Craig County High School Teacher of the Year Mrs. Donna Deplazes. Mrs. Deplazes has been a long time, dependable, knowledgeable math teacher in the Craig County School system. Many of her students have been successful in passing the state math competency tests over the years. She has been involved in many community activities including 4-H, the Craig County Education Association and in school activities securing the Virginia Tech marching band to perform at the Craig County High football games. Over her teaching career in Craig, she has had to adapt and adjust to many school principals and superintendents that have come through. Mrs. Deplazes has been a vital part of the school environment that has provided what success the Craig County Public schools has experienced.”
Honored and surprised at her award, Deplazes said, “Thanks, as I really love teaching in Craig. I want all students in Craig to realize that they can achieve anything; it doesn’t matter where you grow up. If they work for what they want, anything is possible. We also need to make sure that the dedicated and highly qualified employees at CCPS are adequately compensated so students have amazing education opportunities. This year has been beyond challenging for all teachers. There are so many of my colleagues who deserved this award, who are going above and beyond attempting to meet student needs this year. I would like to thank the person who nominated me for this award and the VFW for this recognition. Teaching classes in a virtual/hybrid setting is difficult for teachers and students. This platform requires twice the work for teachers as traditional in-person instruction and an increased level of patience, self-motivation, and dedication from students (and their parents). I greatly appreciate the extra effort and understanding shown by our CCPS families. I certainly hope that everyone has an amazing holiday break and pray that 2021 is infinitely better than 2020.”
Nominated for Craig County Middle School Math Teacher of the Year was Rebecca Craighead.
“Rebecca is a strong, professional, knowledgeable middle school math teacher who has experienced success in teaching math in the middle school classrooms into school divisions. Our students have been successful in passing the state of Virginia math competency test in each division. Ms. Craighead has the trust and respect of the students, staff, and parents of the Craig County community. She has had to adapt and adjust to many principals and superintendents in order to be successful in the classroom. Ms. Craighead is a solid pillar in an ever-changing school environment.”
“I felt honored to receive this award, as I work with several amazing teachers, staff, and administrators in Craig County,” Craighead said. “Craig County Public Schools is a blessing to me and a well-kept secret. I’ve worked for other school divisions, so I do not offer this statement lightly. I adore the students, staff and administration here.”
Lauren McAllister was nominated for McCleary Elementary Teacher of the Year.
The nominee wrote: “Lauren grew up in the small County of Craig, learning at an early age that God, family and community are all important. Lauren is one of many great teachers at Craig County Public Schools.”
At the age of ten, her brother was attending Virginia Tech and to help with expenses, he joined the National Air Force Guard. McAllister attended his graduation, and quickly learned much about the respect of the flag, veterans and military families. McAllister was always part of a church youth group growing up which assisted with many senior and veteran dinners.
When McAllister graduated in 2013 from Craig County High school, her plan was to attend Jefferson Medical College in Roanoke to become a registered nurse. After three years of nursing college, she decided that this career was not for her.
She transferred to Liberty University, after obtaining a substitute teaching position with Craig County Public Schools. She was offered a job in August of 2016 working as an instructional assistant. She loved it and felt that God had led her to this path and decided to finish her degree in teaching at Liberty University. She obtained a position at CCMS as a special education teacher and then transferred to McCleary Elementary to teach third-grade. She is now working on obtaining her master’s degree in special education from Liberty University.
Although 2020 was a challenging year for all teachers and community, McAllister did marry the love of her life in June of 2018 and became a new mother on March 7, the Saturday before Craig County Public Schools closed due to COVID-19. She was out on maternity leave for most of the remaining school year and devastated that she was unable to see and her students off to the fourth grade. Again, this year with virtual learning she is missing half of her class. She loves the interaction with her students, coworkers and parents. Simply put, McAllister loves a challenge.
“I felt very honored and blessed to receive the award. I am very blessed to work with great kids and fellow faculty members every day,” McAllister shared. “Even though I received the award, it takes all of us at McCleary Elementary to give all of our students the best education.”
The VFW presented each teacher with an honorary certificate and a $50 Visa Gift Card for their appreciation.
Post-Commander Billy Lee added, “We have a good group of teachers in our country. They really care about our kids, it’s not just a job for them. They also teach our kids about respecting our country.”