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LHS librarian Campbell recognized as Page County’s ‘Teacher of the Year’

Page News and Courier

LURAY, May 23 ― School officials and administrators gathered last week to honor nine teachers of the year and to name one overall honoree for the division.

About 50 teachers, principals and community leaders turned out for the recognition dinner at Luray Caverns' Burner Barn, thanks to a donation by the corporation. The banquet-style ceremony was the first of its kind, said Superintendent for Page County Public Schools Donna Whitley-Smith, noting that the annual recognition in past years has been held in school cafeterias.

The Page County School Board was additionally scheduled to recognize Support Persons of the Year during its meeting last week.

Each of the county's teachers of the year were nominated by their peers, and selected by a committee of community leaders: 53-year educator Audrey Tutt Smith; the Rev. Erich Bennett of Luray United Methodist Church; former Stanley Elementary teacher Jeanne Cave; and Stanley Pharmacy owner Vance Bryant.

Winners were selected based on several key characteristics, said the division's director of instruction Eric Benson, including professionalism, leadership, the ability to engage students and implementing new and innovative ideas in the classroom.

“Honoring the commitment and the expertise of our teachers, those who dedicate their time and their talents, their energy to shaping students, is one of the greatest privileges that I have as superintendent,” said Whitley-Smith. “I know firsthand the great lengths that great teachers go to to serve and support their students, and I believe for those considered to be great, it's far more than a job ― it's a calling.”

After announcing the 2015-16 teachers of the year ― one from each of the division's eight schools, as well as the Technical Center ― an overall honoree, chosen among the nine winners, was announced.

This year's teacher of the year will, for the first time in Page County, be submitted for consideration as Virginia's Teacher of the Year, said Benson. Since 1964, the state has participated in the national teacher of the year program.

“This year's Page County Teacher of the Year is recognized by her students and her colleagues as upbeat and compassionate,” said Whitley-Smith. “The word 'dedication' was found in all of the letters that supported her nomination, with descriptions of what that dedication looks like in action.”

The superintendent continued, reading from a nomination letter submitted by a student at Luray High School: “I could be experiencing a rough day and she would take the time out of her busy schedule to truly listen and understand.”

The Page County Teacher of the Year for 2015-16 is Luray High School Library Media Specialist Carrie Campbell.

Campbell rejoined the local school system in 2012 as the librarian and Springfield Elementary, before making the move to Luray High in 2013. She previously taught English and photojournalism at Luray High School from 2000 until 2003, and taught at Broadway High School until 2012.

During her time as librarian at Luray, said Principal Clinton Runyan, Campbell has implemented a “makerspace” program, including a recording studio and craft room aimed at cultivating creativity for students, faculty and staff.

“Mrs. Campbell comes to work each day with a positive, professional attitude that is contagious to her colleagues as well as the student body,” said Runyan. “She is a role model by the way she carries herself and an asset to the education profession.”

Campbell has additionally incorporated Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) times throughout the school year for the entire student body and created book clubs for staff and students. She is a member of the Rise Up and prom committees, a co-advisor for the Youth Alcohol Drug Prevention Project and oversees the use of Chrome Books in the classroom.

“When I was a little girl there were ladies in my life who I looked up to ― my mother, who was an educator for 34 years, Ms. Audrey-Smith and 'Miss Whitley,' ” Campbell told the crowd after receiving a standing ovation. “They gave me something to strive for. I appreciate that and I hope that I've done you justice. I hope that I can maybe be that person for some of my kids.”



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