Signal Knob teacher is tops in region

Agriscience educator selected as Virginia Region 4 Teacher of the Year

By Josette Keelor

STRASBURG — Shenandoah County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year now has a new title: Virginia Region 4 Teacher of the Year.

At a Wednesday morning assembly at Strasburg’s Signal Knob Middle School, Superintendent Jeremy Raley announced that Jaclyn Roller Ryan will represent the 19 school divisions in Region 4 in this year’s Virginia State Teacher of the Year competition. Ryan is one of eight teachers chosen from around the commonwealth to compete in Richmond on Oct. 10.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had anyone from our school division chosen for [regional] teacher of the year,” Raley said following the assembly-turned-pep rally that featured cheering middle school students, a rap session by sixth grade history teacher Annmarie Noonan and an appearance of the school’s ram mascot, played by seventh grade teacher Amy Wilberger.

Not the usual mascot, Wilberger said, “I’ve worn it before, but today was a special occasion.”

The event, as Raley told students, was a celebration of students whose character has made them “super stars” and “a school full of teachers who are rock stars.”

Accepting her title as regional teacher of the year, Ryan entered the floor of the school gym to applause from students, fellow teachers and School Board members. All smiles as Raley offered her a congratulatory hug and a flower arrangement, Ryan later admitted her surprise.

“No, I had no idea,” she said. “[The School Board is] really good about sneaking this in.”

“This is huge, I mean, I never would have thought … out of all these teachers I would be chosen,” she said.

Region 4 comprises the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren, and the cities and towns of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

Ryan teaches agriscience at Signal Knob Middle School and has led the school’s chapter of the Future Farmers of America for the past seven years. Under her leadership, the chapter celebrated its second year as best middle school chapter in Virginia. Last year it was also named best in the country.

She attributed her success to her “supportive school system,” but Signal Knob Principal Chris Cook reminded that Ryan now ranks up there with “but eight in the state.”

Her recognition, he said, far exceeds her work with agriculture students. It’s about the school being “recognized for some of these accomplishments that I think are so often hidden accomplishments.”

“Signal Knob, at the base of the mountain, has got the top teacher in Region 4,” he said. “[It’s] quite an accomplishment.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com>