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Spanish instructor named Berkeley County teacher of year

August 19, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- "Maestra Del Año!"

Spanish teacher Nancy S. Ryan was named Berkeley County Schools teacher of the year for 2008-09 and moments later, the 27-year educator learned she had become a finalist for the state award.

"The huge surprise" was becoming the second consecutive county winner from Hedgesville High School, Ryan said.

A Morgantown, W.Va., native, Ryan said there were few teaching opportunities when she graduated from West Virginia University in 1980 with a master of arts degree in foreign languages.

How times have changed.

"At that time, it was the only job open in West Virginia," Ryan recalled after Board of Education President William F. Queen presented her with the award at Martinsburg High School's auditorium.

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Ryan now is one of six finalists for the state award, a feat achieved by last year's county winner, Cindy F. Thomas, who introduced this year's county finalists. The state winner is expected to be announced Sept. 12.

Joining Ryan on stage was Brenda Gain of Valley View Elementary School, Rhett Beckman of Martinsburg High School, Carrie Marcum of Spring Mills Middle School, Janet O'Connell from Eagle School Intermediate and Brenda Waterworth of Musselman High School.

"Each one of them at their own programmatic level are outstanding teachers," Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said during a reception held after Ryan was announced as the school system's top teacher.

Arvon said his son had Ryan and Thomas while in school, and he still talks about how they made a difference in his life.

Ryan, 52, is the fifth county teacher of the year to be named a state finalist in the 39 years the school system has participated in the state program, according to Ernie Dotson, who coordinates the program.

Beverly Hoffmaster was Berkeley County's only state winner in 1992 and was one of four previous teachers honored with the award to act as judges of this year's nominees.

"The school nominated me and I didn't want to let them down," Ryan said of her decision to complete a packet of information to be considered for the award.

In addition to teaching at the high school, Ryan has worked as a tutor and as a teacher for the Summer Federal Migrant Program, as well as an instructor at Shenandoah University and Shepherd University. She has also been working as a Virtual School Spanish teacher for the West Virginia Department of Education since 2006.

She was awarded the state Foreign Language Teacher of the Year award in the fall of 2007 and was a county teacher of the year finalist in 2004.

"She's an outstanding teacher and has been for many years," said Hedgesville High Principal Don Dellinger, who touted the school's consecutive honorees as supporting evidence for the school's "outstanding academic reputation."

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