Imagery of Regent people and campus

Salute to Teachers Honors Virginia's Classroom Leaders

By Amanda Morad | October 1, 2013

Kathy Galford, Virginia State Teacher of the Year
Photo by Charity Mack

On Friday, Sept. 27, Regent University's School of Education (SOE) hosted the 15th Annual Salute to Teachers event honoring classroom leaders in the Commonwealth of Virginia who make an impact in their schools and communities. In attendance were more than 320 public and private Teachers of the Year from Virginia's Region II, their principals, superintendents and school board members.

This year's keynote speaker was Kathy Galford, Virginia's State Teacher of the Year and an English teacher at Greenbrier Middle School. She was honored as the Region II Teacher of the Year at the 2012 Salute to Teachers.

"Great teachers share a strong connection," she said. "We share a common humility. ... The glue that bonds us is the same hope we had the first day we stood up to teach, that somehow, we could make our students' lives better and make a difference."

Galford has made a difference in her students' lives with a simple, but important philosophy: Make it relevant. "I believe that I need to show my students how everything they learn in school relates to their world," she said in an interview. "Whether in academics or citizenship, I want to prepare my students for their futures and make sure that what and how they are learning matters to them."

As the shy kid in class herself, Galford was inspired to return to the classroom as a teacher by the teachers who noticed her and brought out the best in her. "They showed me that I had something to offer and pushed me out of my comfort zone," she explained.

Today, as Virginia Teacher of the Year, Galford exudes the humility she talked about among her peers at the Salute to Teachers event. "Being the Virginia Teacher of the Year has made me want to be better for my own students and for teachers and students all over our commonwealth," Galford said. "I'm an ambassador and a representative for great teachers in Virginia. All dedicated teachers work hard each day to make a difference in our students' lives by creating an engaging, creative and active learning environment where students feel safe and encouraged to work their hardest to reach their full potential."

Friday night, she left her peers in attendance—some first-time honorees, some veterans in the field—with a sense of pride in their distinction as exceptional educators.

"You're here because teaching for you is not a job; it's a calling," she said. "You see it as an honor, a privilege, and what you were meant to do with your life. Thank you for giving your very best every day so that your students can give their very best."

When Galford was honored at last year's banquet, she received a 100 percent scholarship to SOE. This year, she returned as a current student pursuing her doctorate in K-12 leadership. The Teachers of the Year who attended received a certificate for a 25 percent SOE scholarship.

"Having the opportunity to earn my doctorate at Regent is truly one of the biggest blessings of my life, and I will never take it for granted," Galford said. "Working in a leadership position in my field will allow me to reach many more students, teachers and colleagues than I am currently able to reach in my own classroom."

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