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Thorsell proud to serve community as W.Va. Teacher of the Year


The Journal

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.  — Katlin Thorsell is known across the Jefferson County school district and the community for her passion, commitment and creativity.

Those were just some of the accolades used to describe Thorsell, this year’s West Virginia Teacher of the Year.

Kaitlin Thorsell, left, is this year’s West Virginia Teacher of the Year.

During a ceremony in Charleston on Sep. 18, Thorsell became the first teacher from Jefferson County Schools to earn the honor.

Dr. Steven Pain, West Virginia superintendent of schools, recognized the finalists and celebrated the county selections for Teacher of the Year. Thorsell was one of six finalists that were recognized at the Clay Center in Charleston.

“Katlin represents all of the Jefferson County Schools’ staff who make this a great community for families,” said Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson, superintendent of Jefferson County Schools in a press release.

Thorsell is currently the agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Washington High School and has served in those roles for more than four years.

Thorsell received her master’s degree in agriculture with an emphasis in agriculture and extension education from the Davis College School of Design and Community Development at West Virginia University.

“I am truly humbled and honored to represent Jefferson County as the state Teacher of the Year,” Thorsell said in the release. “This community has helped shape me into the person and educator I am today. Teaching is my passion, and the love I have for my community has strengthened my commitment to serve the children of the Mountain State.”

Not only does Thorsell serve the students of Jefferson County Schools, she also serves the community as a firefighter and EMT for Citizens Fire Company. In January, she was selected as Citizens Fire Company’s Firefighter of the Year. Thorsell has been a member of the station since March 2015.

Thorsell said her involvement in agriculture was cultivated as a student at Charles Town Middle School. During her time in high school, Thorsell’s high school adviser, Mr. Fincham, suggested that she become an agriculture teacher. To this day, Thorsell credits Fincham’s guidance that not only paved her career path, but also served as an example of the positive influence educators make on their students.

“Here we are a week later, and it is still so surreal to me,” Thorsell said. “This past week, there have been a lot of press interviews. I am a little out of my comfort zone in that aspect, because I am usually a more behind-the-scenes kind of person and like to have the spotlight on the kids and our FFA program. So, that’s been a little different, but I have definitely gotten a lot of congratulatory words, messages and emails from the local community and of course my school.”

Thorsell said after she won, she was welcomed at school with the halls and her classroom door decorated in her honor.

“The staff here has been great in congratulating me, and I also just received flowers from our teachers union,” Thorsell said. “Even people that I have never met before have been sending lots of congratulatory words. It’s overwhelming and still a little surreal that I am representing our state as teacher of the year.”

Thorsell said she is unsure of what compensation she will be receiving as West Virginia Teacher of the Year, but she hopes to use any monetary earnings to provide more supplies for her classroom.

“It really depends on the amount I receive, but there is always a need for just basic supplies or items for my students to work on projects,” Thorsell said. “I don’t even know if it has to be earmarked for something specific, or if it can be used for anything in the classroom. However, I would love to get iPads in the classroom for my students, or something like that for them to use in class. I think that could be really beneficial to them.”

Thorsell will soon begin preparing for the national teacher of the year program.

“I have to do some modifications and changes to my application, but that will be sent in by Nov.1,” Thorsell said.

From there, finalists will be interviewed by a national selection committee, composed of representatives from more than 15 national educational and community organizations for the national teacher of the year. The board will meet in early December to choose four finalists from the nominations received.

This spring, the National Teacher of the Year will be introduced to the nation by the president and honored in a series of events in Washington, D.C.

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