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Area teacher is finalist for $25K region award
Dawn Toole (right), a kindergarten teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School, is a finalist in the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence. Above, kindergartners Caleb Burgess (left) and Santos Ramirez Cheviz gather around to touch earthworms they will be raising in the classroom as they learn about the life cycles of different organisms. (Contributed photos)
A Patrick Henry Elementary School teacher is a finalist for a $25,000 prize in the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence.
Kindergarten teacher Dawn Toole is one of three elementary school finalists in the Blue Ridge region, which includes 52 school divisions in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The other two finalists both are from Giles County.
Toole also was a finalist for the McGlothlin Awards in 2008. She has 18 years of teaching experience, including nine in the city schools, and was Patrick Henry’s Teacher of the Year in 2009.
“We’re very proud of Dawn,” said Patrick Henry Principal Zeb Talley, who nominated Toole for the award. “She’s one of the best teachers in the division. In just the time I’ve been here (at Patrick Henry), I’ve been amazed at the number of people I hear from whose lives she has touched.”
As part of the competitive process, each nominee had to submit three letters of recommendation, a resume and an essay. Twenty semifinalists then were chosen to submit 20-minute videos of themselves teaching a standards-based lesson.
While the process was a lot of work, “It’s something every teacher should do to better themselves as an educator,” Toole said of the videotaping. “It forces you to reflect on your teaching and what your children are doing.”
Next, a panel of judges who are former educators will observe her and the other finalists in the classroom and conduct interviews. Candidates will be judged on classroom instruction, classroom management, interaction with students and use of instructional technology such as computers, video or digital cameras.
Blue Ridge PBS administers the application and judging process for the McGlothlin Awards, now in its 14th year. The awards are given annually by the McGlothlin Foundation of Bristol. Two winning teachers, one from grades K-5 and one from grades 6-12, will be announced April 18 in a ceremony at Radford University. Winners must use $10,000 of the $25,000 award for international travel and then apply that experience to enrich their teaching.
Toole said if selected, she will use the prize money to travel to Costa Rica because of the country’s biodiversity. This will be useful for the kindergarten curriculum, which includes the life cycles of plants and animals, she said.
Blue Ridge PBS has administered the McGlothlin Awards since 1999.