Brownsville Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Analisa Herring was presented with the Virginia Lottery Super Teacher Award before a crowd of cheering students in the school’s music room May 24.
School leaders had kept the purpose of the early morning assembly secret and Herring was shocked to hear her name called as the recipient of the award. Herring was nominated by Beth Saunders, the parent of one of her students. Saunders read her nomination letter to the crowd. It lead off with a string of superlative adjectives about Herring.
“Mrs. Herring is an amazing teacher who tirelessly goes above and beyond the call of duty to see that her students get the very best education possible,” Saunder’s letter said. She praised Herring for organizing a workshop for parents that explained the math instruction strategies employed and how parents could help reinforce them with homework. She admired Herring’s inventiveness in having groups of students produce tourism commercials as a way to study regions of Virginia. Herring is going to night classes to earn her M.A. in math education, she is team manager for Brownsville’s Destination Imagination team, handles the school’s yearbook and is the mother of three school-aged children. The younger two go to Brownsville and the whole family gathered and beamed toward cameras afterward.
“We’re a whole school of super teachers,” Herring said, when asked to come to the podium. “I’m really honored. Those are the nicest things anybody’s ever said about me.”
She said she was surprised and overwhelmed, but she was poised and natural when she faced the crowd and talked.
Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, presented Herring with a display check for $2,000. The school got a large outdoor vinyl banner announcing Herring’s award.
When Otto asked the 300-or-so third-through-fifth graders sitting on the floor if any of them had a super teacher, every kid instantly raised his or her hand.
Addison Jones from The Supply Room Companies gave Herring another foam-mounted check for $2,000 toward classroom supplies, equipment and furniture. He also handed her a color photo printer.
“For me, this means that what I’ve been doing in the classroom has been working,” said Herring, “I’m not sure I’m different from other teachers. This parent was kind enough to write about me.
“Super teacher to me means I don’t just have an academic but an emotional connection with my students. You teach to touch children’s lives. This [award] is just a bonus.”
She said that her husband was already talking vacations, but there would first be a family meeting about the prize money. She said the other check will go to mainly to math education supplies.
For third year, the Virginia Lottery selected super teachers in eight regions of the state from about 1,200 nominations, Otto said. The lottery gave more than $479 million to Virginia’s K-12 public education needs last year, she noted. The Virginia PTA is also a sponsor of the award.
Herring is the third Albemarle teacher to be chosen for the award. Previous recipients are Jenny Dean at Burley Middle School and Joseph Hicks at Stone Robinson Elementary.