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Wal-Mart honors teachers

May 09, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SPRING MILLS, W.VA. - Berkeley County fourth-grade teachers Melissa Golliday and Wendy Bird are among the more than 4,000 teachers across the nation that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. officials announced are receiving Teacher of the Year honors this week.

Golliday, a first-year instructor at Potomack Intermediate School, and Bird, who has taught at Mountain Ridge Intermediate School for two years, were surprised with the honor on Tuesday.

"Honestly, I thought we were in trouble for something," Golliday said after being presented with a plaque and flowers in the school's gymnasium.

Golliday and Bird also received a $1,000 grant for their respective schools, $100 gift cards for them to buy classroom supplies, and Teacher of the Year polo shirts and personalized certificates. Students were treated to fruit punch and cake as part of the ceremonies.

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Golliday was selected in her fourth year of teaching by the Sam's Club store in Hagers-town and Bird was the Martinsburg Mall Wal-Mart store's honoree for 2007. Their students wrote in support of their nominations.

All local winners have the opportunity to apply for the state Teacher of the Year honor, which comes with a $10,000 grant for their school, according to a Wal-Mart news release. Each state winner is automatically entered into the national competition.

Potomack Intermediate Principal Steve Crowell hoped the regional selection of Golliday for the honor would serve as a pep rally for the upcoming standards testing of the school's 575 students.

"This is always a nice honor for your school," said Crowell, who credited the school's teachers for going in the "trenches" with the students each day.

Bird said she thought the special gathering of the Gerrardstown, W.Va.-area school's students on Tuesday was to recognize another teacher who successfully applied for some sort of grant program.

"I had no idea," said Bird, an educator for 19 years, 17 of which have been spent in Berkeley County. She asked that the $1,000 grant be earmarked for Mountain Ridge's playground. Golliday asked for her grant to help purchase library materials for the students and professional staff.

Mountain Ridge Principal Michelle R. Martin said Bird is always enthusiastic and motivates her students.

"Like the Energizer rabbit, she just keeps going and going ...," Martin said. "We work as teams ... her success is our success. She represents the best of Mountain Ridge."

Since the Teacher of the Year program began in 1995, Wal-Mart has honored more than 25,000 teachers nationwide and donated more than $18.5 million to local schools, according to the company's news release. Wal-Mart promotes itself as one of the largest corporate supporters of teachers and education, and said it gave more than $57 million last year in support of educational initiatives.

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