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Whittington is Jefferson County's teacher of the year

June 17, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - In Carol Whittington's kindergarten classroom at South Jefferson Elementary, several educational processes are at work at the same time.

Because kindergarten is traditionally the start of a child's educational journey, it is where teachers gauge what type of students they will be.

Some will learn fast, others will learn at slower paces.

Once Jefferson County's Teacher of the Year finds out names and faces, she sets about her work.

Fortunate to have a full-time aid in her class, Whittington relies on her assistant to keep lessons moving while Whittington focuses on the different learning groups.

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She takes the fast-learning students aside, setting up enrichment programs to keep their minds moving ahead.

Then she turns to the students who are learning more slowly, giving them the assistance they need to catch up with the rest of the class.

All the while, the subjects children are being introduced to in Whittington's class are put into themes. The studies may revolve around dinosaurs, farms or plants and gardens, Whittington said.

Career thoughts?

It's not too early as far as Whittington is concerned.

Whittington said she often takes her students on field trips to hospitals, libraries and other places to show them the different places they can work some day.

One of the favorite field trips among children is a trip to the 167th Airlift Wing near Martinsburg, said Whittington. Officials at the local Air National Guard base often take children up into cockpits of the C-130 planes at the base and show them firefighting equipment.

"My room is like an organized chaos. We are continually working on projects," said Whittington, who was named 2002 Teacher of the Year during a Jefferson County Board of Education meeting last week.

Whittington is an effective teacher because she understands how kindergarten works and how it fits into the overall educational process, said Jefferson County Board of Education member Pete Dougherty. South Jefferson is recognized as a good school, and Whittington knows that after the students leave her classroom, they will continue to get a good education from other teachers there, Dougherty said.

South Jefferson has a group of teachers who work hard together to make sure the school's academic goals are met, said Dougherty. A dedicated group of parent volunteers help make the school stronger.

Whittington's honor marks the third year in a row that the county's Teacher of the Year has come from South Jefferson, which Dougherty calls "uncanny."

"She's part of that South Jefferson mystique," said Dougherty.

Whittington, who has been teaching at South Jefferson for 16 years, said she likes teaching kindergarten because there are no preconceived notions about kids at that level.

When children begin progressing into upper grades, teachers often know about each child's academic abilities based on conversations they have had with other teachers, she said.

Whittington said she has a lot of flexibility in the ways she can present subjects to students, and enjoys attending conferences such as the annual Tri-County Institute to learn new teaching techniques.

Whittington, her husband, David, and son, Patrick, live in Kearneysville, W.Va.

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