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Tuscarora Elementary teacher named Berkeley's best

August 04, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- Candace F. Smith, an educator at Tuscarora Elementary School in Martinsburg for more than 20 years, was named Berkeley County's Teacher of the Year for 2009-10, by Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II Tuesday evening.

A 2005 finalist for the school district's top award, Smith, 48, was hired full time at the school off Tavern Road in 1985 and never left. She has taught kindergarten there for the last nine years.

"I got used to the families and the kids, and some of the kids I just feel need me and I just couldn't go anywhere else," Smith said of her attachment to the school.

Smith, of Martinsburg, was the last of five finalists to be introduced by their respective school administrators in a reception held in Hedgesville High School's auditorium. "When you listen and you hear all that they've done and how they've helped the students, you just feel like what you've done has not been as important," Smith said of the accomplishments of fellow finalists Susan Klair Bucey from Musselman High School, Mary Beth Cornell from Hedgesville Middle School, Cynthia E. Evarts from Orchard View Intermediate and Carol A. Hamilton from Spring Mills Middle School.

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Tuscarora Elementary Assistant Principal Jena Hinchman was overcome with emotion by the end of her speech about Smith, who graduated from Shepherd University in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She obtained a master's degree in elementary education from West Virginia University in 1989.

"Two words that I attach to Candy Smith's teaching skills: 'they learn,'" Hinchman said.

Smith said she was inspired to become a teacher by Janet Boyd, her first-grade teacher at Rosemont Elementary School in Martinsburg. Boyd attended Tuesday's reception.

"I just remember sitting in those desks and she was so excited about learning," Smith said of Boyd. "She had a little file box. I remember distinctly that she kept track of every book that we read. We would go to her one on one and she would write down our list of books ... and she always had time for each of us to read pages out of (the books) to her."

In second grade, when Smith had trouble making the transition to a new teacher, she said Boyd was there for her.

"I would go back to her room and she would let me help with the lunch money, and she would kind of push me out the door little by little and I got used to it, but I didn't want to leave her," Smith said, laughing.

Smith's husband, Greg, said he told his wife she was going to win the award.

"She didn't believe it herself," her husband said. "I've seen how the kids respond to her. I see what she does after she gets off (work) and it's not an easy job."

For winning the award, Smith receives $1,000 for a professional staff development program of her choice, a teacher of the year banner for her classroom and a plaque.

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