Local Teacher Wins Award, Moving On

ST. MARYS — A St. Marys teacher was named the top teacher for 2011 by a local organization.

St. Marys VFW Post 9289 recently named Kathy Jeffries its Teacher of the Year. Jeffries, a special education teacher, teaches at St. Marys Memorial High School.

“First they have a local winner, and then that winner goes on to the district level and could go on to the state and national level,” Jeffries said.

VFW Post 9289 Quarter Master Frank Thomas noted Jeffries also won at the district level — St. Marys is in District 2, and there are 25 clubs in its district.

“They informed me at the award ceremony on the 16th that I won for the district, too,” Jeffries added.

Thomas said the next level — the state level — will be announced in late January.

“If she wins there, she will go on to the national level,” he said.

Memorial High School Principal Dave Lewis said the VFW contacted him to see if he would like to nominate a teacher for its award.

“They brought it to our attention around October,” Lewis said, noting he asked Jeffries for a copy of her resume to submit with the application. “We were notified a couple weeks later she was the winner.”

Jeffries said just being named on the local level was an honor enough.

“It’s a very big honor, especially for Mr. Lewis to pick me to send in,” she said. “There’s a lot of teachers who work just as hard as me. I hope I can represent them well — it’s a big honor.”

Lewis said he felt Jeffries was “very deserving” of the award.

“As I sat there and thought about the nomination, I knew she would deserve it,” he said. “Kathy has done a lot with the special ed department and putting everything together and organized. She’s taken on a valued leadership role.”

Lewis added Jeffries is well-respected in her area.

“Her colleagues in her department go to her when they make decisions,” he said. “They respect her a lot, and they rely on her expertise.”

Lewis noted Jeffries has a passion for her job.

“Kathy obviously wants to spend time with her kids and help the students,” he said. “She finds a way to balance that by being a leader in her department and by supporting the kids she feels responsible for.

“She’s very well deserving. I didn’t have to think too hard when I was thinking of someone to nominate.”

Jeffries noted this is her 10th school year with the St. Marys City Schools, and she has been at the high school level the entire time.

“I help students who learn differently,” she said about working in special education. “I do a little bit extra to get them through — it’s a lot of tutoring and re-teaching.”

Jeffries added this is the first award of its kind that she has received during her career in education.

“I didn’t know I was up for it,” she noted. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

Jeffries said she hopes her being named teacher of the year helps others, as well.

“I hope I can represent teachers in a positive light,” she said. “There’s a lot of negativity that surrounds education sometimes. There’s many people out there helping kids. It’s the negative stories out there about education and teachers that people seem to remember, and there’s 10 times more things out there people don’t know about that is positive. I do this because it’s an honor — I don’t expect anything in return.”

Jeffries was honored at a dinner put on by the local VFW where she received a $100 award and a plaque. Thomas noted the post also chooses a fireman and a police officer of the year in addition to its teacher of the year award.