Charleston, W.Va. – The 2024 West Virginia Teacher of the Year (TOY) Sharon Cole and West Virginia Service Personnel of the Year (SPOY) Gary Brydie joined a host of sponsors from across the state as they received awards during a ceremony at the State Capitol Complex. Both were named with the prestigious titles in September and begin their year-long tenure this month.
Sharon Cole is a 34-year veteran educator teaching second grade at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary. She 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.
“It is an honor to fulfill my life’s work every day as a teacher in West Virginia,” Cole said. “I believe that you do not choose teaching, but teaching chooses you, and that has been my journey since I was a child. I look forward to traveling the state and the country to support public education and the teaching profession. It is among the most noble endeavors a person could pursue.”
Gary Brydie is a school bus operator for Cabell County Schools. He has held this position for more than 12 years. According to his colleagues, Brydie is a model employee who takes pride in providing safe transportation for his students and serving as a role model for youth. He is a member of the Neighboring Initiative Charitable Trust Board, serves as chairman of the Positive People Association Board, works as the manager of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Community Service, is a member of the Huntington Black Pastor’s Ministerial Alliance, serves on the board of directors for the Shepard’s House Recovery Program and the Salt of the World Ministries. He also participates as a member of the Alliance’s Quick Response Team, where he meets with community members, paramedics and other agencies addressing the substance misuse problems facing the community.
“As service personnel, we serve important roles in the schools and the lives of our children,” Brydie said. “I feel privileged to be chosen as West Virginia’s Service Personnel of the Year and represent the corps of men and women who keep our schools operating smoothly and maintain crucial connections with students and families. We understand what it means to support, love, encourage and to be there for children because that is what we do every day.”