Skyline teacher named regional Teacher of the Year

Students surround Heidi Trude, center, after she was surprised with winning the District 4 Teacher of the Year award Tuesday morning at Skyline High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County Public Schools administration surprised Skyline High School teacher Heidi Trude on Tuesday morning by announcing that she’s been named the state’s Region 4 Teacher of the Year.

Trude has taught French to Skyline students of all grades since 2008, and is a member of numerous education associations. She has presented at a variety of professional conferences and was named one of 10 Future Leader Fellows in the American Association of Teachers of French in February.

Superintendent Greg Drescher, Skyline principal Michael Smith and a number of School Board members and central office staff greeted Trude and her class with applause and cookies. Handed a certificate and letter from the governor, Trude could only say “merci beaucoup.”

A little later, she credited her students, fellow Skyline faculty and administration, the School Board and central office for their help in her recognition.

“Whatever it is, I might have the idea, but the idea doesn’t happen unless I have all my players on my team,” she said. “These people are my team, and without them this award wouldn’t be possible.”

A student from Heidi Trude's class gives her a hug after she was surprised with winning the District 4 Teacher of the Year award. Rich Cooley/Daily

Trude said she feels that her involvement with groups like the American Association of Teachers of French and the Foreign Language Association of Virginia helped earn her the recognition. Her students have been able to use a classroom set of Chromebooks since 2015 and she’s fostered Skyline’s partnership with Lycée Bazin in Charleville-Mézières, France, since 2012.

“These kids are my life, they’re my inspiration and I want them to feel that same passion that I do,” she said.

Drescher said this is the first time a Warren County teacher has received this title. Trude will be one of eight teachers in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year. She’ll head down to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond on Oct. 17, when the state Department of Education will announce the Virginia Teacher of the Year.

According to a release from the Virginia Department of Education, a panel of teachers, educational association members and others selected Trude and the others from a pool of portfolios. They’ll also interview the eight candidates next month and make the selection for Virginia Teacher of the Year.

Having learned about her nomination from the county on Teacher Appreciation Day, Trude said she set to work on various application essays in the spring.

“I would say the essays were probably the most challenging part, because it’s hard for me to get my whole personality to come across on a sheet of paper to really show who I am,” she said.

For one essay about an educational issue and possible solutions, Trude said she tackled a hot button challenge.

“I picked the topic of standardized testing, which, as a foreign language teacher, is one we don’t even deal with in the classroom,” she said. “But I see so many of my colleagues struggling with that issue and not being able to teach how they want to teach because they’re confined to the test, where I have that freedom where I’m not tied to the test – and I see the results with my students.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com