Saluting Teachers

Second-grade teacher Katrina Rowson-Starkes from Portsmouth Public Schools learned she was nominated for “Teacher of the Year” at the end of the last school year. After being nominated in the past, she decided to accept the recognition.


“It’s such an honor,” said Rowson-Starkes. “We do this every day because we have a love for children and we love teaching, but it is an honor to be recognized for something you have a passion for and you love to do. I just love working with the children and feel like I’m making a change or creating a difference in their lives. It’s a pleasure.” She joined hundreds of other Teacher of the Year award recipients from across Hampton Roads at Regent University, Friday, Sep. 25, at the Founders Inn. That’s where the School of Education (SOE) held its annual Salute to Teachers Event.

“We’re in our 17th year of taking time to honor the teachers in this community for all that they do for the kids in our community, and to really bless them,” said Donald Finn, SOE dean.

The evening included award presentations to each teacher of the year, along with door prizes, scholarships and words of encouragement from Sharon Byrdsong, chief of staff at Norfolk Public schools and 2008 Regent University School of Education graduate.

“Teachers are certainly not encouraged financially,” said Byrdsong. “The job is a very tough one, and it’s a calling. If you’re not called to do this work, it’s going to be very challenging for you. Teachers make a difference in children’s lives every day. The work is very hard, but it’s also very rewarding. When you can make a difference in a child’s life, your work is done.”

Byrdsong shared the story of her son who struggled when a teacher failed to recognize his learning potential. She says all it took was a teacher who knew how to cater to Ian’s unique learning style to re-instill a love of learning in his mind and heart.

“Ian’s story is very special, not only for educators, but for moms as well,” said Byrdsong. “For me, it was important to let teachers understand the impact that they have on childrens’ lives, and what they say and their actions could have a detrimental impact or positive influence, so I thought it would be very important for me to share his story. He’s come a long way.”

Looking to be a leader in her school district who encourages teachers to positively influence their students, Rowson-Starkes is continuing her education at Regent University’s School of Education (SOE).

“We do a lot of interning,” said. Rowson-Starkes. “We are able to go into other schools and see how administrators work with their educators. They have a wonderful internship program where we do three semesters of interning. You are able to go into elementary school, middle school and high schools and their human resources departments, so we’re able to see what’s going on, not only in the school system, but also behind the scenes.”

Rowson-Starkes studies online and says Regent’s family feel and helpful professors are encouraging her to do well in her studies. She is aspiring to become an administrator to inspire other teachers.