Jefferson names teacher of the year

August 22, 2000

Jefferson names teacher of the year

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A 27-year teacher at South Jefferson Elementary School, who was described as "clearly a leader" in the county school system, was named Jefferson County Teacher of the Year Tuesday night.

Cathie Burke was selected from a field of 10 teachers during the annual awards ceremony at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

James Winston, a custodian at North Jefferson Elementary, was named Service Personnel of the Year.

Of Burke's 27 years at South Jefferson, 22 have been spent as a first-grade teacher. Burke said she remembered one of her colleagues saying that teachers should teach a different grade about every five years to protect themselves from getting in a rut.

"I haven't been in a rut yet," Burke said after receiving the award.

Burke said she never gets bored teaching the same grade level because every year brings a new class full of personalities, which presents new experiences in teaching.


But this year, Burke will move into new territory at South Jefferson.

She will lead what is called a P-1 class, which is a grade level between preschool and first-grade.

P-1 classes, which have been offered in local schools for about four years, are designed for students who have finished preschool, but who need extra academic help before they move onto first grade, Burke said.

Many times, students between preschool and first grade have difficulty getting the academic help they need, Burke said. There are learning disability classes for children, but a student has to be "failing big time" to qualify for them, Burke said.

Many students who are eligible for P-1 classes test too high for learning disability classes, Burke said.

Burke said she will teach a P-1 class at South Jefferson Elementary in a portable classroom. She is ready for the challenge, even though her portable classroom has not yet been set up on the school's property, she said.

"I'm ready to go. It will work. It will work," Burke said.

Jefferson County Board of Education President Larry Togans said Burke "exhibits sincere professionalism."

Togans said Burke once told county educators she has the "honor of witnessing miracles." Burke finds joy in hearing students utter new words in the classroom, then stringing them together into sentences and finally into stories.

"I'm just floored, absolutely floored," Burke said upon receiving the award.

The Teacher of the Year recognition now moves to the state level and the national level.

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