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Putnam teacher of the year honored

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD -- Putnam County Schools honored its best and brightest employees Monday night at the school board's regular meeting.

George Washington Middle School physical education teacher Debra Howard took the top honor as Putnam teacher of the year as well as middle school teacher of the year.

Howard was also named middle school teacher of the year in 2008 and state middle school physical education teacher of the year in 2001 as well as teacher of the year in her school three times. She has been teaching at George Washington Middle in Eleanor since 1982.

Superintendent Chuck Hatfield listed a number of other professional accolades and associations in his recognition of Howard.

"To have those kinds of accomplishments... as a physical education teacher, it doesn't happen," Hatfield said. "When you hear about the folks who throw a ball out on the floor, this is not one of them."

Buffalo High School Principal Richard Grim was named Putnam County administrator of the year.

Grim has been principal of Buffalo since 2004 and has overseen the transition to the new facility and new project-based curriculum this year. He's worked at several county schools as a teacher and administrator since 1975 and is a graduate of Poca High School.

Mountain View Elementary Head Custodian Don Thornton was named Putnam County service employee of the year.

Thornton has been at Mountain View since 2009 and with Putnam County Schools since 2004.

"If you want to see a clean school, go to Mountain View," Hatfield said.

Anita Robinson was recognized as the county's elementary teacher of the year for her work with orthopedically impaired students, and Cindy Wandling of the county's alternative program was recognized as high school teacher of the year.

The board also recognized two teachers with 40 years of service: Adele Groom of Hurricane High School and Dovetta Harless of Lakeside Elementary School.

Hatfield also told the board that the state has recognized 10 schools in Putnam County as Exemplary for 2012-2013.

Confidence Elementary, Eastbrook Elementary, Hurricane Town Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Poca Elementary, Scott Teays Elementary, West Teays Elementary, Poca Middle, Hurricane High and Winfield High schools all earned exemplary status.

Exemplary status is a state-level recognition for schools that meet requirements such as standardized test scores and graduation rates. In total 58 schools in the state earned the honor, and Hatfield told the board he believed Putnam had the most schools of any county.

Also at Monday's meeting, the board heard from Judy Grumbling and her therapy dog, Boo Boo, about a program to encourage young readers.

Grumbling's therapy dog is trained to listen to children read aloud to help them gain confidence as readers. She told the board more than 400 students have graduated to the next reading level after working with Boo Boo and that she wants to bring the program to Putnam County. The Putnam County Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at the school district's central office in Winfield. The next meeting will be Nov. 5. All meetings are open to the public.


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