West Virginia teacher and service personnel of the year named
A long-time educator and pastor who works as a school bus driver were named West Virginia’s 2024 teacher and service personnel of the year.
Sharon Cole, second grade teacher at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School in Wayne County, was awarded teacher of the year.
A lifelong Wayne County resident, Cole told state school board members in September that she was proud to represent “the county I love and the state that I’m proud of.”
She has taught for 34 years in the county.
According to the West Virginia Department of Education, Cole brought an enthusiasm to her classroom along with a rigorous teaching style. She created a life size “Magic Treehouse Reading Center” in her classroom, which provides a unique learning environment for her students to encourage a love of reading.
“I love every minute of being in the 7- and 8-year-old world,” said Cole, who graduated from Marshall University.
“I am so thankful I answered [God’s] call. Even on the hard days, I cannot believe I get paid to do this,” she continued.
Cabell County school bus operator Gary Brydie, who has been with the district for 12 years, was named service personnel of the year.
Colleagues described Brydie as someone who takes pride in providing safe transportation and being a role model for his students. He regularly gets out of his bus and goes into the school to engage with students who need support.
“We may not all possess college degrees, but we are critical to the schools. We all add value to all of our respective school operations,” Brydie said.
He also pastors a church in Huntington and is actively involved in his community as a member of the Neighboring Initiative Charitable Trust Board. He also serves as chairman of the Positive People Association Board and is a member of the Huntington Black Pastors Ministerial Alliance.
The WVDE announced the winners Sept. 15 during a ceremony in Charleston.