West Virginia English Teacher Takes Top Honor as 2017 Teacher of the Year

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

A Fairmont Senior High School English teacher was recently honored with the title of 2017 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Toni Poling of Charleston said that she didn’t believe she was going to win the award when she was first nominated. It was her husband, Eric, who encouraged her to move forward with the interview stage of the nomination. He told her that if she won the award he would have a T-shirt made up that had the words “I’m married to the West Virginia teacher of the year” printed on it.

Poling has spent the last 10 years teaching English to 11th and 12th graders at Fairmont Senior High said that she originally wanted to be a paleontologist but changed her mind after her senior year in high school. She said that she had a teacher who was influential in changing her direction to becoming an educator. Poling also used her teaching skills to help her father conquer a reading disability.

In addition to her duties as an English teacher, Poling serves as a Faculty Senate President and as an advisor to pre-service teachers. She also started a competition at the school to see which class donated the greatest amount of winter clothing in which all items were donated to students in need and the Union Mission.

Poling accepted her award during a ceremony at the Charleston Embassy Suites. She will go on to represent West Virginia on a national level. Poling also received a new Toyota and $1,000 grant for Fairmont Senior High. Next year, she’ll speak at the 2018 ceremony to share what she’s learned along the way.

“I’m looking forward to working with other teachers. I think that’s a key part of our profession: working with other educators to help them do their jobs in the best way that they can,” she concluded.