With fine dining, live music and an awards presentation, Regent University’s School of Education (SOE) honored Teachers of the Year from southeastern Virginia on Friday, September 23. The 18th annual Salute to Teachers brought principals and teachers to Regent’s campus for an evening of recognition and appreciation.
“Teachers can get so hung up in the day-to-day, in the accountability, the high-stakes testing, deadlines, parents, kids, the whole thing. Oftentimes, it’s a profession where they’re not always appreciated,” said Dr. Don Finn, SOE dean. “This event started to do that, to say we recognize, appreciate and want to bless them for the hard work that they’ve done.”
Each Teacher of the Year received a trophy, as well as a 25-percent tuition scholarship for a SOE degree program. One Teacher of the Year received a full scholarship to Regent University’s SOE through a raffle. Keynote speaker Stephen Staples, state superintendent of public instruction for the Commonwealth of Virginia, called the event a “first-class operation.” He reminded teachers about the importance of their jobs.
“We need to thank teachers for their dedication and their commitment to doing one of the most difficult jobs in America, teaching other people’s children,” said Staples. “We understand how we interact with our own children in our home, but the truth is, they’re teaching children from a variety of homes, from a variety of backgrounds. Meshing them together in a single classroom is one of the more challenging things you’re to do, and I will tell you teaching is not for the faint of heart.”
Hundreds of teachers attended the dinner, all from different schools and backgrounds. They say they enjoyed the chance to join their principals and families for dinner and meet other Teachers of the Year.
“I’ve heard about it from previous Teachers of the Year who I’ve worked with, and they really encouraged me to RSVP and go,” said Toney McNair Jr., department chair for electives and co-music director at Indian River Middle School in Chesapeake. “It’s a great feeling to be celebrated. I never imagined in my wildest imagination that I’d be at this level, but I think it’s great that Regent University is celebrating teachers all over Hampton Roads. I’m humbled to be here and give all honor and glory to God for that privilege.”
“Teachers have a lot of different responsibilities,” said Jenna Free, AP English teacher at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach. “We teach within our classrooms, we plan beforehand and grade afterward, but we’re also in charge of activities, and we’re all kinds of people to our students. We’re counselors, friends, encouragers. Sometimes teachers serve as pseudo-parents, so there are so many different things teachers are asked to do and so many ways teachers are asked to give of themselves. It’s great and exciting to have somebody say, ‘Hey, come on over, we want to celebrate you.'”