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Posted February 11, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Adding it all up

Educator honored by statewide mathematics teachers organization

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Darcy Cupp's passion for helping her pupils learn the finer points of solving for X and other mathematical concepts has earned her educator of the year honors from a statewide organization of mathematics teachers.

Cupp is grateful for winning the award from the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, but gloating clearly isn't her style.

"It was kind of shocking," she said. "I don't like to be in front of people, but it's nice to get an award. It was kind of unexpected."

The award from the mathematics educators marks the second time she has been honored as teacher of the year. The first honor came from the Front Royal Rotary Club, which chose her from among the faculty at her school.

Cupp has taught at Warren County Middle School for all of her seven years as a teacher. Awards fade into the background as she talks about what motivates her as a teacher.
"A student didn't understand a mathematical concept yesterday, but it clicks for them today. That's what I really enjoy," Cupp said.

Cupp said she tries to take the fear out of math for her sixth- and seventh-grade pupils by making it fun for them and relating it to their lives.

Her abilities in the classroom got the attention of Diedra Cardamone, a math and science instructional specialist in Warren County Public Schools' central office, who nominated Cupp for the award from the council of mathematics teachers. Cardamone said Cupp has always stood out among the teachers she has seen while visiting classrooms around Front Royal.

"She's always engaging and has a great presence in the classroom where all students are interacting with her," Cardamone said.

Nor has her work outside the classroom gone unnoticed.

In her nominating submission, Cardamone cited Cupp's leading role in working with other teachers to prepare benchmark tests given by the division to track student academic progress. The tests are separate from those administered under the state's standards of learning program. Cupp is also deeply immersed in extracurricular activities at the middle school and high schools, Cardamone said.

"She's a great role model," Cardamone said. "She's detail-oriented, collaborative, open-minded and self-reflective."

Some schools struggle to recruit and retain high-quality science and math teachers because their knowledge and skills often make them eligible for higher-paying jobs.
But Cupp isn't going anywhere.

"Yes, money is a concern, but not a concern that would make me go to another job," she said. "If I weren't happy, I wouldn't be here."

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