It’s that time of year when all the schools have named their teachers of the year. The school division has already sorted these to come up with the elementary school, middle school and high school teachers of the year. One of these teachers will be selected as the county teacher of the year and go on to regional competition.

Just to be named your school’s teacher of the year is a great honor because it means you were nominated for it by your colleagues. Your co-workers are impressed with what you are doing.

They have all done special things to connect their subjects with their students. They are all experienced teachers. Some have done unusual things. One past teacher of the year did short term mission trips in Southeast Asian jungles during the summer. One past teacher of the year originally didn’t set out to be a teacher. He originally started out majoring in something really boring and decided, after his first year, that it wasn’t for him. However, working on his college’s student newspaper that year allowed him to discover where his real passion was. He switched his major to English and became a very exited high school English teacher, and a good one, too.

Once each school selects its teacher of the year, an honor in its own right, an elementary school, middle school and high school teacher of the year is selected.

Selection of these teachers uses state criteria because one will be selected, later, as the county’s teacher of the year and go on to state competition.

These top three have already built part of their portfolio for the state competition. Each has gotten a letter of recommendation and written three essays. A panel of three judges — two current teachers and one retired teacher — review these packets and select the top three. The teachers names are removed from what is presented to the judges. That way any bias on the part of judges is eliminated.

The teacher who is selected as the county teacher of the year goes on to the Region 5 competition within the state. Bedford County teachers have done very well in this competition and several have won in the last couple of decades. Last year’s winner was Matt Uselton from Liberty High School. This high success rate is interesting because the region Bedford County teachers compete in includes some larger, wealthier school divisions. This success rate says something really good about the quality of teachers who are teaching the county’s students.

The winner of Region 5 then competes with the winners of the Commonwealth’s other regions for the state teacher of the year. Uselton did not win the state contest, but maybe this year will be different. Maybe one of the three ladies who are the finalists for Bedford County Teacher of the Year will go on to win the top state honor. It would be nice to see one of our own be recognized as number one in the state.

However, whatever happens, all three of these ladies are winners. They and all the teachers who won their schools’ honor of Teacher of the Year are winners. They have been recognized for their thoughtful work, and success, during a trying time to make sure their students get a high quality education.