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Teacher of the Year
Department of Education
Ms. Dawn Heterick Werner received the top honor of Teacher of the Year for her exemplary efforts at Fairmount Elementary School in the Bristol City School District. “Preparing students today for their tomorrow is preparing society for its future,” said Ms. Werner in her essay on teaching philosophy. “By instilling responsibility, modeling appropriate behaviors and providing basic learning opportunities, I provide the children in my classroom with a basis for growing and being a productive part of their world.”
Fairview Elementary School Second Grade Teacher Dawn Warner
The ceremony was the culmination of a yearlong series of events that began with the teachers at Fairmount nominating Werner as the best teacher at the school. She also won district and regional titles. Werner submitted writings to the state Department of Education on the philosophy of teaching. Based on that essay, the recommendation of the school system, and an interview with contest judges, Werner won the state award. “I guess more than anything the reason I was nominated was because I’m an advocate for the children,” she said. “You get to be the best teacher in the state when you give everything that you’ve got to give every day.” In her application, she credited her forebears with helping shape her 11-year teaching career.
Werner graduated with her doctorate of education last May from East Tennessee State University. She serves as a Title I second-grade teacher at Fairmount Elementary, the Parent Involvement Coordinator, the Corrective Reading Director, and as a surrogate parent for special needs children at her school.
She was raised in Blacksburg, Virginia, where her late father was a professor and administrator at Virginia Tech.
Werner’s first career choice was banking, but she abandoned it after a series of mergers at the bank where she worked. “After a while, I decided this job wasn’t for me,” she wrote in her application.
She followed in her father’s footsteps and said she felt his presence as she accepted the award. “(State Education Commission) Lana Seivers asked me where my parents were, and I told her my father had died,” she said. “I said, ‘I know he’s definitely here tonight.’”
The Greeneville-based Scott Nisonger Foundation gave Werner $1,000 for winning the regional award and $4,000 for winning the divisional award. The Canada-based SMARTer Kids Foundation donated an educational technology packaged valued at over $17,000 which included computer technology, an interactive digital whiteboard, a portable projector and computer software.
Dawn Heterick Werner will attend the National Teacher of the Year Conference in January and visit the White House and meet with the President and the First Lady. “I get to meet the president,” Werner said, smiling. Next will be the competition for National Teacher of the Year, set for April in Dallas.
Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education
East Tennessee State University
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