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High school math teacher is tops in Berkeley County

August 21, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Cindy F. Thomas no longer has to wrack her brain on what to say to motivate her students at Hedgesville High School.

Her reputation, after teaching mathematics at the Berkeley County school for 27 years, now precedes her.

"It's easier if you stay in a school and the student body gets to know you," Thomas said on Monday after she was named Teacher of the Year for 2007-08 by the Berkeley County Board of Education.

"Now, after 27 years I really don't have to say much," said Thomas.

At Hedgesville High School this year for the annual award announcement and reception, Thomas had a bit more to say. She was the fourth of six finalists to be introduced by 2006-07 winner Cindy Welsh and invited to the stage of the school's auditorium.

Thomas, 49, with Rosemary G. Lynch from Martinsburg South Middle School, Julaine S. Pfund from Back Creek Valley Elementary School, Frannie L. Sisson from Spring Mills Middle School, Shannon R. Stephens from Berkeley Heights Elementary School and Michael W. Stiles from Musselman High School, together have 117 years of teaching experience, program coordinator Ernie Dotson told the crowd on hand for the announcement.

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Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said the finalists comprised a "magnificent group of talent" among the school system's more than 1,200 teachers before ending the suspense.

"I'm in awe of each of them," said Arvon, who begins his 35th year with the county school system this month. The awards reception was Arvon's 11th as superintendent.

Each finalist was presented with a plaque and a hand-painted bucket of flowers. Thomas received a colorful schoolhouse banner to be placed in her classroom at HHS and a larger version with her name clearly embroidered on it was presented to hang at the school. She also will be able to attend a professional conference of her choosing at the school district's expense.

Upon accepting the award, Thomas said she was blessed and thanked her family for sharing her "with my job."

She also thanked the school's faculty who nominated her - multiple times. Thomas was a finalist in 1998 and 2004, according to Berkeley County Schools communications staff.

"Especially my math faculty - they are all 'teachers of the year' in my opinion," said Thomas, who chairs the Math Department.

For any prospective students reading this, don't anticipate her retirement anytime soon.

"I tell my students that they'll just have to wheel me out on a stretcher one day," Thomas said.

"I don't know what else I would do if I stopped teaching," she said.

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