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The McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence 2009 Winners

Top prizes in the 2009 McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence, including $25,000 checks, were presented Monday, April 6, to Elizabeth Lester from Patrick Henry Elementary School in Martinsville, Va., and Jayanne Bridges from Christiansburg Middle School in Christiansburg, Va.

Radford University hosted the awards ceremony, which was also a celebration of the McGlothlin Awards 10th anniversary. The event was the culmination of the annual McGlothlin Celebration of Teaching at the university, an afternoon of free teaching and learning activities for educators, families and students of all ages.

"It's incredible to think about the number of people who have benefited from the McGlothlin Awards over the past 10 years," said James Baum, Blue Ridge PBS President and CEO. "By honoring the best teachers in our region, the McGlothlin Foundation has touched the lives of thousands, not just individual students, but the students' families and the broader community."

Blue Ridge PBS has administered the McGlothlin Awards since its inception. The awards, which are among the largest teaching prizes in the United States, are given annually by the McGlothlin Foundation of Bristol, Va. Only teachers in selected portions of Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky are eligible. Two winning teachers, one from grades K-5 and one from grades 6-12, must use $10,000 of the $25,000 award for international travel. The goal of the travel experience is to broaden the thinking and experience of the winning teachers, and to further enhance their excellence as professional educators.

Lester, a first grade teacher, is described as consistent, personable, hard working and effective. She is a true professional who takes every child to a higher level. Lester plans to use the award money to travel to England and Ireland, an experience she thinks will translate into lessons for her students. She will bring back first-hand information on the people, land and special attractions that make these countries unique.

Bridges, a sixth grade science teacher, impressed McGlothlin Award judges with her ability to engage students through hands-on learning, community service projects and experiential activities. She wants to use the award money to travel to Africa where she would help underprivileged children with literacy, numeracy, computer skills and conservation science.

Lester, Bridges and the other McGlothlin Award applicants were judged by a distinguished group of regional college faculty, educational division administrators and other professionals who volunteer their time and expertise. Criteria include a teacher's ability to promote a high level of student achievement, to "bring the world to the classroom" through the travel component, and to inspire the desire to learn in students, other educators and the community.

Four McGlothlin finalists were each presented with a trophy and a check for $1,000. Finalists were Rebecca Boone, Troutville Elementary, Botetourt County Public Schools, Va., Teresa Hash, Marion Intermediate, Smyth County Public Schools, Va., Mary Slone, South Floyd High, Floyd County Public Schools, Ky., and Erin Wigginton, Pulaski County High, Pulaski County Public Schools, Va.

Special thanks go to Tom McGlothlin and the McGlothlin Foundation for making this important recognition of teaching excellence possible. The McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence are administered by Blue Ridge PBS.

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