By Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Each year, the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), throughout many counties in the United States, offer citizens and students the opportunity to recognize those educators whom they feel have displayed excellence in teaching.
The local Craig Valley VFW Post 4491 has been participating in this special recognition for several years and is excited to present Teachers of the Year for 2021 to Craig County Public Schools: Rachel Arthur, High School Teacher of the Year; Olivia Lee, Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Karen Jones, McCleary Elementary Teacher of the Year.
The National VFW shares that it recognizes and honors the top elementary (K-5), junior high (6-8), and high school (9-12) teacher of the year, “who teaches citizenship and education topics, and promotes America’s history, traditions and institutions. Attributes considered will be the scope of the teaching on both the students and the community.”
Post Commander Billy Lee presented each teacher with a Certificate that read, “Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States – National Citizenship Education Teacher Post Recognition Award, presented to (each teacher) in recognition for promoting citizenship education in your classroom and school.”
Each teacher also received a check from the local VFW Post 4491.
The nominee’s submission for Rachel Arthur as the High School Teacher of the Year stated, “Mrs. Arthur is a longstanding positive role model for all students, particularly the young females. She listens to the students and provides learned guidance to the ones who seek her opinion. She participates in the total school environment by sponsoring events participating in school activities, and providing leadership for curriculum development for the physical education department. She is one of the strong teachers in the school system that provides what strength the school system has established.”
Lee’s submission letter read, “She is the middle school teacher at Craig County Middle School and has been teaching there since August 2018. Ever since her first year of teaching, patriotism has been a part of her classroom. From a young age, with the influence of her grandfather who served in the Korean War, she has loved our country And, her love for her country does not stop at her classroom door. She has found that teaching patriotism is one of the most influential concepts. From Veterans Day to D-Day, her students learn about English and the United States of America. When the Olympics are on, she turns on the television and they watch and cheer on our athletes. Her students learn about World War II by creating poems that represent the pain and sacrifice of the soldiers. They also learn about the Vietnam through a nonfiction unity that uses primary sources. She has the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in her classroom and helps our VFW Post 4491 every year to get kids for the Patriot’s Pen contest. She often says, ‘I find that our country’s history works in tandem with English. When I step into my classroom, it is always my hope that my students learn to love America, its citizens, and its military.’”
Jones’ submission letter read: “I would like to nominate Karen Jones for Elementary School Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching for 25 years. Every Veterans Day, she has the kids draw and color cards, they then send them to all the Veterans in Craig County. She has the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class starts. She also reads books for her read-aloud that reminds students who our Veterans are and what they have done for our country. Some of the books include: Tuesday Takes Me There, The Wall and Maya Lin Artist – Architect of Light and Lines. She is well liked by students and staff alike.”
The award is based on the nominees submitted. The local VFW Post chooses and recognizes one outstanding teacher in grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. The Post then submits their winning names and required documents to their District-level judging.
From there, the selected winners and required documents are forwarded to the state-level where they are judged. Those winners are forwarded to VFW National Headquarters for consideration in the national awards contest.
For the upcoming 2022 awards, if you know a teacher who plans field trips to city hall, organizes community volunteer projects or invites local Veterans to speak in class, anything to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs, this award is for them.
- Step 1: In 350 words or less, describe why you feel your nominee is deserving of the award. Be sure to describe the teacher’s innovative teaching and resource development methods, as well as his or her dedication to education.
- Step 2: Download and complete the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award nomination form.
- Step 3: Submit the nomination form along with your explanation to your local VFW Post by Oct. 31 to Billy Lee Post Commander.
The local VFW chapter encourages the community to become involved in this great opportunity to award teachers who sacrifice so much to teach the kids of Craig.
Said Commander Lee, “We are happy to have such good teachers for our kids here in Craig. It is our privilege to honor them.”