CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) announced Sharon Cole as the 2024 West Virginia Teacher of the Year (TOY) during a ceremony Tuesday night. WVBE Vice President Nancy White and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Michele L. Blatt were joined by members of the State Board of Education for the announcement at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia in Charleston during the Celebration of Excellence in Education: Honoring the 2024 Teacher and School Service Personnel of the Year.

 Sharon Cole is a 34-year veteran educator teaching second grade at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary and is the first winner from Wayne County in West Virginia TOY history. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Marshall University and is certified in Elementary Education grades 1-6 and Social Studies grades 4-8. Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is visible through the unique environment she creates. She has constructed a life-size Magic Tree House Reading Center in the corner of her classroom to instill a love of reading in her students.  

 Her teaching strategies are rigorous, engaging and differentiated. She has elevated expectations for all students to achieve academic, social and emotional standards and goals. Cole has served as an active member of Ceredo-Kenova Elementary’s Leadership Team, Hiring Committee, leader of the second grade Curriculum Team, and has served as Ceredo-Kenova Elementary’s Faculty Senate President for three terms. She has been a model educator for Marshall University student teachers and a mentor for future teachers. Cole enjoys reading, boating, trips to the ocean, volunteering at her church, and spending valuable time with her husband, two children, and one granddaughter. 

 “Our Teachers of the Year are known for being dedicated, passionate and thoughtful when it comes to education. Mrs. Cole is no exception,” said Superintendent Blatt. “She embodies every characteristic of what makes an amazing teacher. She has set a sterling example for our future teachers and will continue the tradition of excellence of state teachers of the year.”  

 The 2024 TOY finalists include: 

Name  School  County 
Michael Harshbarger  Cabell County Career Technology Center  Cabell County 
Kimberly Hunt  Roosevelt Elementary School  Mason County 
Jennifer Kirk  Oak Hill High School  Fayette County 
Jamie Young  Woodsdale Elementary School  Ohio County 

West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year program dates back to 1964, making it one of the longest and most consistent in the nation. It recognizes and identifies the importance and impact of teachers in West Virginia classrooms. Honorees are acknowledged for their integrity and professionalism in the industry and represent the best educators in the Mountain State.  

 This year marks the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic that the WVDE brought the program back to full capacity, allowing each county winner and their guest to attend in-person. 

As the 2024 winner, Cole will receive a vehicle for use throughout the year from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia; $5,000 from both Highmark West Virginia and the Horace Mann Companies; a $1,000 classroom grant from the West Virginia Education Association; a two-night stay at a West Virginia state park from the West Virginia Department of Tourism; a $250 Amazon gift card and gift basket from the West Virginia Professional Educators; $500 from the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia; $500 from the West Virginia Lottery; and a tuition and lodging grant from Leadership West Virginia valued at $5,600. Each finalist receives a $300 Donors Choose classroom grant from the Horace Mann Companies. Each county winner receives a $300 classroom grant from the West Virginia Lottery and a custom suncatcher from the Blenko Glass Company. 

Visit the WVDE social media platforms (listed below) for a recording of the program, and the  WVDE website for more information about the WVDE Teacher and Service Personnel of the Year programs.

For more information, contact Christy Day at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or

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