It had been nearly three decades since Logan County’s representative was named West Virginia Teacher of the Year, but that came to an end on Wednesday, Sept. 9 as Andrea Santos, instructor at Logan High School, was named the 2016 Teacher of the Year by the West Virginia Department of Education.
Santos began her teaching career in Logan County 23 years ago after she graduated Suma Cum Laude from West Virginia State University with a BS in Education and received a multi-subject education degree for foreign languages from Lee University. In 1995, she came to Logan High School as a Spanish teacher. During her time at LHS, she has also taught theatre and film appreciation and currently serves as the chair of the fine arts department.
She credits several of her former teachers for inspiring her to pursue a degree in education.
“I am here today because a remnant of southern West Virginia teachers taught me with passion and electricity, so much so, that I forgot I was in a classroom, but rather, I was absorbed in a whirling tornado of learning and mystery-solving. These teachers gave me, not only an education, but a full cup of self-worth and dignity as well. Today, they remain my teacher role models. Thank you Eunice Batchel, Renata Comoretta, and Bill Chafin.”
Not only has she been a valued member of the faculty of LHS for two decades, Santos’s passion for education has been instrumental in several projects throughout the county. She has served as the co-director for both the Coalfield Writers through the National Writing Project and the Logan County Secondary “Writing Across the Curriculum” team. Recently, Santos received an OEPA accommodation for creating the secondary education’s multi-cultural handbook “Unity and Diversity” which is used cross-curriculum throughout the county.
Santos was named the Logan County Teacher of the Year earlier this year, and at the end of July, Superintendent Phyllis Doty received a phone call that she was one of six finalists for the state’s award. Although she knew she was one of the finalists, Santos says she was very surprised to hear her name announced during the awards ceremony.
“I am beyond words about the award itself. I was very calm because I didn’t expect my name to be called.”
As the WV Teacher of the Year, Santos will become a spokesperson for education for the state and will be traveling to events such as speaking engagements and educational forums. In 2016, she will receive new technology for her classroom, a $5000 cash gift, and the use of a car for traveling to scheduled appearances throughout the year.
Winning the award for the state also qualifies Santos to be considered for National Teacher of the Year. In April 2016, she will attend a ceremony at the White House where the national winner will be announced.
Although she is honored to receive the award, Santos sees this as an opportunity to teach others about education in southern West Virginia.
“What I hope to gain from this is to spotlight Appalachian educators for the hard work they do and our students who charge over obstacles every day and, against the odds, still show themselves to be intelligent, dignified, proud, and full of integrity. It’s important that our students, especially in the southern coalfields, have someone to carry their voice and share their stories.”