July 13, 2020

Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has selected five educators as finalists for the prestigious West Virginia Teacher of the Year Award. All finalists serve their counties as the 2020 County Teacher of the Year and include elementary, middle, high school and career technical education educators from across the state. This year’s finalists are Erin Anderson, Tennerton Elementary School, Upshur County; Michael Knepper, Mussleman High School, Berkeley County; Jessica Markwood, Moorefield High School, Hardy County; Meghan Salter, Martha Elementary School, Cabell County; and Lisa Smith, Blennerhassett Elementary School, Wood County. The announcement was made during the July meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education. 

These five finalists represent the absolute highest standards of educator,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Each one of them strives for excellence in themselves and their students and are shining examples of the one caring adult that makes a real difference for a child. It is an honor to recognize them as a part of one of the WVDE’s most esteemed programs.”

Erin Anderson teaches fifth grade at Tennerton Elementary School in Upshur County. A 20-year veteran educator, Anderson received her B.A. in Elementary Education from West Virginia Wesleyan College and an M.A. in Reading from West Virginia University. Anderson is a strong believer in the importance of building relationships with her students inside and out of the classroom. In 2019, she started “Move It Mondays’” a mileage club that invites students of all abilities to run together – rain or shine – after school. Anderson believes this practice not only strengthens relationships but also builds a lifelong love of healthy habits. 

Michael Knepper teaches band at Musselman High School in Berkeley County. A National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), he received his B.A. in Music Education from West Virginia University and his M.S. in Music Education from Florida International University. Knepper has worked with the West Virginia State Commissioner of Arts, Culture, and History and with the VH1 Save the Music Foundation to replace outdated instruments and old equipment in every middle school. To date, all Berkeley County middle schools have received more than $30,000 in new instruments and equipment, and he continues to work to elevate music education and provide instruments to children throughout the eastern panhandle and the state. 

Jessica Markwood is a career technical education (CTE) teacher at Moorefield High School in Hardy County. Markwood’s nontraditional path to the classroom colors her instruction for her business students. She received her BFA in Advertising at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and her MBA from West Virginia University. Prior to becoming a high school teacher, she developed marketing and public relations strategies for a community and technical college, taught entrepreneurship, and provided marketing services and employee software trainings to numerous businesses and organizations throughout the Potomac Highlands region. She chartered DECA at MHS in 2018, and as the DECA advisor, Markwood actively works with students to prepare them for competition, college and their careers.  

Meghan Salter teaches gifted education at Martha Elementary School in Cabell County. An NBCT, she is a graduate of Marshall University, receiving both her B.A. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Special Education. Salter has been incorporating drone technology into her classroom for five years. She currently holds a Part 107 Remote Pilot License from the Federal Aviation Administration as was recently recognized by Women and Drones as a “Woman to Watch,” acknowledging women who are driving change and leading the drone industry closer to gender parity. Salter works to instill a sense of humanity into technology and business for her students.  

An NBCT, Lisa Smith teaches third grade at Blennerhassett Elementary School in Wood County. She received a B.A. in Elementary Education from West Virginia University- Parkersburg, and a middle school math certification from West Virginia University. She is currently completing an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governor’s University. Smith is passionate about every child having access to STEAM education. She puts technology in the hands of students at her school through support from the Governor’s STEM mini-grant and STEAM Power West Virginia grant programs. Additionally, she has collaborated with her school’s administration to create an Innovation Center in the school and takes five teams of students to the LEGO League Robotics Expo each year. 

The 2021 State Teacher of the Year will be announced this fall during a virtual program, and the winner will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year Program.