"At first, I didn't want to do the work, but she made me do it. She'd call home and I'd have to do the work. She wouldn't put up with being lazy," said Ramie Socks, 17. "The biggest lesson I've learned from her is to keep trying to do my best - don't quit."
"That's all I want out of any of my students," said McVey, who taught Ramie Socks in his freshman year and has been his case manager all four years.
McVey, 49, has worked at South Hagerstown High School for eight years, teaching special education English and assisting with regular English classes. McVey, a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., resident, has taught for 23 years.
"Whatever the disability happens to be, we work around it. My job is to see those kids get those accommodations, whether it be someone to take notes or copy notes," McVey said. "But to get credit, the kids can't be lazy and choose not to do the work."
How did McVey steer a reluctant student back on track? It was a team effort, she said, and sometimes it seemed like a rollercoaster ride.
"Without parent interest and cooperation of the student, it simply wouldn't have happened," McVey said.
"I remember all the phone calls about homework needing to be turned in," said Pat Socks.
"They tell me I fuss more than their moms," McVey said.
"Not in this case," Pat Socks said, laughing.
Socks said McVey's mentoring improved her son's motivation, grades and attitude.
"It's the first time I ever liked going to school," Ramie Socks agreed.
"We had quite a few talks - not always that Ramie didn't do this or didn't do that. She'd call and tell me the positive things, too. She always went to bat for the student," explained Pat Socks. "The success is not only Ramie, but all the kids who are graduating that she's helped."
To receive a high school diploma, students in Special Education classes must meet Maryland education requirements, take the Maryland Functional tests and earn the same number of credits as any Washington County student, McVey said.
"They pass their tests without help. They don't get any breaks," McVey said.
She added that the disappearance of the letter "D" from the grading scale has put more pressure on all students.
As for Ramie Socks, McVey said, "I don't have to call home anymore ... I'm shooting for May, when he gets a diploma. Nothing pleases me more than to see them walk across the stage."