Fourth grade teacher Martha Trimble of Blowing Rock School has been chosen as the Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2016-17. Her selection was announced Friday morning in a surprise visit to the school by Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Board of Education Chair Ron Henries, Board Vice-Chair Brenda Reese, Board member Jason Cornett, members of Trimble’s family, Assistant Superintendent and Human Resources Director Dr. Stephen Martin, and a number of personnel from the Watauga County Schools central office.
The announcement took place in the school gym at an assembly that was billed as just being about encouraging students to do well on their End-of-Grade tests. Trimble indicated the cover story worked very well, saying that the announcement was “a big surprise, and definitely an honor…I had no clue this was coming.”
Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott praised Trimble as “a great example of everything that is wonderful about the Watauga County Schools.” Speaking to students, Elliott remarked that “I can tell you one thing about Ms. Trimble and that is that she loves all of you.” Reflecting on Trimble and the many other outstanding teachers in the district, he noted that “something really special is happening in our schools and that is because of the great teachers we have in our classrooms every day.”
Principal Patrick Sukow also addressed the assembly, noting that “all of us in this gym are extremely proud of Ms. Trimble.” In earlier remarks Sukow described Trimble as “a natural teacher, and a born leader, a person who sets high standards for students not just in academics, but also about being responsible and doing their best.”
Trimble was a student teacher at Blowing Rock and was hired for a full time position there shortly after graduating from ASU. “Some people may have considered it a risk to hire a new graduate to follow an outstanding long term teacher at Blowing Rock,” stated Sukow, “but it was evident even in the interview that she would be a great teacher.” Sukow lauded Trimble as a true professional with a deep commitment to getting even better. “She attends workshops, she seeks out professional development, and she listens to the advice of her colleagues.”
Trimble’s commitment to growth is reflected in the personal statement of teaching philosophy that she prepared as part of the selection process for the district teacher of the year. Trimble describes her philosophy as fluid and notes that “I will always be prepared to learn new teaching styles, concepts and tools…In order to meet the needs of every student, faculty member and parent, I have to meet them where they are.” Trimble’s statement also refers to the high standards she sets for her students. “I believe that students should be encouraged beyond what is expected. …I will do everything in my power to challenge them socially and academically.”
This Friday the 13th also provided Trimble with a second dose of big and positive news: she has just completed her master’s degree at ASU and her graduation ceremony is also scheduled today. Ever the teacher, Trimble is using her graduation as an educational field trip for her students, who may well be the only class ever to see their teacher named Teacher of the Year and be awarded a graduate degree on the same day.
The 2016-17 Teachers of the Year at the other schools in the WCS system include Jake Orange of Bethel, Madison Hollar of Cove Creek, Jennifer Brown of Green Valley, Brooke Huffman of Hardin Park, Sumer Williams of Mabel, Kim Pryor of Parkway, Courtney McClellan-Brown of Valle Crucis, and George Wilson of Watauga High School.
Each school’s Teacher of the Year receives an award of $350 from the school system and Trimble will be awarded an additional $350 as the district’s Teacher of the Year. In addition to these payments, local businesses generously donated their products and services to support the recognition of all nine WCS Teachers of the Year and WCS Principal of the Year Marshall Gasperson. The sponsoring businesses include ASU Athletics, Blue Ridge Vision, Boone Drug, Chetola Resort, Chick-fil-A, Cornerstone Bookstore, Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine, Hardee’s, Hibbett Sports, Makoto’s Japanese Steak House, Mast Store, McKethan Brothers Barbecue, Melanie’s Food Fantasy, Mellow Mushroom, Michaels, MO’s Boots, Mystery Hill, Outback Steakhouse, Stick Boy Bread Company, and Wendy’s.
The Teacher of the Year at each school is selected by their teaching peers at the school. The Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year is chosen through a process that includes interviews, unannounced teacher observations in classrooms, and a review of a written statement of teaching philosophy prepared by each candidate. The committee making the selection includes 2015-16 Teacher of the Year Allison Sparks and Principal of the Year Patrick Sukow; Jennifer Lacy, president of the Watauga County Association of Educators; Watauga County Board of Education member Jason Cornett, and WCS Director of Accountability and School Improvement Dr. Wayne Eberle.
Trimble now becomes a candidate for regional Teacher of the Year honors and from there could become a candidate for NC Teacher of the Year. The regional NC Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced next December or January.
A trio of excellence: Keana Triplett, NC Teacher of the Year, 2016-17 WCS Teacher of the Year Martha Trimble, and 2015-16 WCS Teacher of the Year Allison Sparks
Martha Trimble with Dr. Scott Elliott
Video: Watauga Democrat