July 1, 2019
Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) today announced six finalists for 2020 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Finalists were selected among 2019 County Teachers of the Year from each school district. This year’s finalists represent elementary, middle and high school educators from all regions of the state and include Alexandria Amorim, Wayne High School, Wayne County; Kara Bowles, Mountaineer Middle School, Harrison County; Clara “T.C.” Tucker-Clemons, Highlawn Elementary School, Cabell County; Aaron Fedorke, Wheeling Park High School, Ohio County; Jennifer Schwertfeger, Cameron High School, Marshall County; and Lucas Woods, PikeView High School, Mercer County.
“I congratulate these six extraordinary educators, and I appreciate the outstanding work they do every day for the students of West Virginia,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine. “These teachers take a comprehensive approach in their classrooms and have dedicated their lives to educating future generations.”
Alexandria Amorim is a mathematics and engineering teacher at Wayne High School in Wayne. Though not a native of the state, Amorim received a B.A. in Secondary Math Education, a B.S. in Applied Math and an M.A. in Mathematics from Marshall University, and has firmly planted her roots in the state ever since. Amorim teaches Project Lead the Way pre-engineering classes and integrates community projects into her curriculum as part of the Simulated Workplace initiative. After school, she volunteers as the coach for the Wayne High School Robotics team which has qualified for the VEX World Robotics Competition the past two years.
Kara Bowles is a special education teacher at Mountaineer Middle School in Clarksburg. In her classroom, students considered severe and profound are given the opportunity to thrive with Simulated Workplace-style learning. Bowles coordinates with therapists, aides and community members to maximize student learning. She firmly believes that “all students have value, a purpose and are gifted but they need support to find these things as it relates to their lives.” Her dedication and tireless commitment to excellence has made her classroom a beacon of light for special needs students in Harrison County.
Clara “T.C” Tucker-Clemons is a fourth grade teacher at Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington. A 42-year teaching veteran, T.C. makes sure first and foremost that every student in her school feels loved. She believes the purpose of teaching extends far beyond the classroom and that educators truly change lives. Loved by students past and present, T.C. can often be seen in her community supporting every student that she has had the pleasure to know. A cancer survivor, she turned her student’s support for her during her chemo treatment into an opportunity for them to write cards and collect hats and scarves for others going through treatment.
Aaron Fedorke is a career technical education (CTE) teacher at Wheeling Park High School in Wheeling. Fedorke’s students focus on pre-engineering, engineering design, computer integrated manufacturing and machine tool technology. A 28-year veteran journeyman, Fedorke left a successful career in the private sector to fulfill his high school dream of becoming an educator. He proudly “declared war” on insufficient funding for updating equipment and wrote numerous grants resulting in more than $60,000 to provide his students all the benefits of cutting-edge technology. Fedorke is a passionate advocate for CTE’s role in creating a skilled workforce and believes that West Virginia students are the state’s most valuable resource.
Jennifer Schwertfeger is a science teacher at Cameron High School in Cameron. Her courses include biology, human anatomy, AP Biology and physics. Schwertfeger believes that all students can achieve and feels it is her role as an educator to tailor content to ensure they do. She promotes the importance for students to recognize their connection to science starting on a personal level and broadening their scope of understanding to their community and world. Schwertfeger not only serves her students daily but also supports her colleagues and new teachers as a Marshall County teacher leader, new teacher mentor and a cooperating teacher for future educators. Believing that one can always improve, Schwertfeger is currently seeking her National Board Certification.
Lucas Woods is a music teacher at PikeView High School in Princeton. Woods is a firm believer that music education is for everyone and has built a program that incorporates this philosophy. He teaches concert band, marching band, jazz band, pep band, guitar and music appreciation to students of all skill levels. He also teaches beginning band at both Spanishburg Elementary School and Lashmeet-Matoaka Elementary School. Everything Woods does is structured around three defining principles that he refers to as ELF: Excellence, Leadership and Family. He inspires his students to be an ELF every day as they strive for greatness together.
West Virginia’s 2020 State Teacher of the Year will be announced on September 11, 2019 at a ceremony at Embassy Suites in Charleston. The winner will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year Program.