- Associated Press - Sunday, October 8, 2017

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - Sherrard Middle School teacher Cassie Cox was caught unaware Wednesday afternoon as a lunchroom full of her students joined school and county administration in celebrating her recognition as a superior educator.

Chevron, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Steelers, selected Cox, a seventh-grade science teacher, as a “Leader in the Classroom.” She is the sole teacher from West Virginia to be recognized through the program this year, joining 15 other educators from Western Pennsylvania for their contributions to education.

Chevron representative Lee Ann Wainwright presented Cox with a $1,000 donation to her classroom, as well as a custom Steelers jersey with her name and tickets to the Steelers’ game against the New England Patriots in December, when Cox will be recognized on the field with the other award winners.

Cox, who has taught at Sherrard Middle for 14 of her 39 years in education, said she hopes to put the donation to good use for the students, and that the recognition was overwhelming, although very much appreciated.

“It’s a lot to take in,” Cox said. “I’m looking forward to finding some new activities for my students.”

Following her expected retirement in a few years, Cox said she would like to travel and see the world - but in the meantime, there’s more to see each day. Nearing four decades as an educator, Cox said she still finds new experiences every day with her students.

“It’s just the love of the children, and with finding the activities every day, it’s real exciting. It’s a real adventure,” she said.

Cox was nominated by Principal Jason Marling, who described her approach to teaching as “innovative” and “passionate,” and that her dedication to her students was apparent to anyone who knows her.

“She’s someone who’s fresh and exciting for the kids,” Marling said. “She’s still doing things that a new teacher might - she has a lot of new ideas, she’s constantly bringing new ideas into the building, new presentations. Just today, she was talking about bringing Carnegie (Learning Center) into the building to do a presentation. She’s taking them on trips. She’s been around a long time, but she’s still got the energy of a new teacher, and she does a great job with all the kids.”

In his nomination, Marling related the testimonials of two former students who cited her Cox’s lessons as reasons why they chose to pursue careers as a doctor and veterinarian.

Wainwright said the Leaders in the Classroom program came from a decision that more needed to be done to recognize teachers,

“We heavily invest in (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and it just kind of occurred to me that we’re not recognizing the teachers who implement this great work,” she said. “So this was our opportunity to really recognize the teachers in a fun way.”

Last year, John Marshall High School had three teachers - Sally Gaughenbaugh, Gavin Hartle and Daniel Easton - recognized through the same program.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, https://www.theintelligencer.net

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