By Jenni Vincent - The Journal Staff Writer
MARTINSBURG - Berkeley County Board of Education members honored one of their own Tuesday night, when they formally recognized Erin Sponaugle for having been named the 2014 West Virginia Teacher of the Year.
Sponaugle, who teaches at Tomahawk Intermediate School, was also recognized last week by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during his state of the state address.
During her visit to Charleston, Sponaugle received a new Toyota Prius to drive as she visits other schools statewide as well as $5,000.
BOE President Dr. Bill Queen, who introduced Sponaugle, said she had made both Berkeley County and the state proud by her professional accomplishments.
"We know how dedicated Erin is and what she does every day. You are who we look to to make a difference in kids' lives," Queen said, adding that only one other Berkeley County teacher had received this statewide honor.
In her presentation, Sponaugle reminded audience members of the tough times still being faced by hundreds of thousands of southern West Virginia residents who remain without water due to a chemical spill in the Elk River.
While water is a common substance, it's also something people miss quickly when it's not available, said Sponaugle, adding that teachers share some of its most important qualities.
"One thing that we can't take for granted is water - we need it to clean, nourish ourselves and go about our daily lives. Without it we can't survive or focus," she said.
"And in education, teachers are our water - they quench students' thirst for knowledge that they might not even know they had. Some days we spend putting out fires as we resolve issues, we wash away tears and we make new waves with ideas and lessons," Sponaugle said.
Both teachers and water "help make things grow," she said.
"Together we make the community an ocean of learners," Sponaugle said.
In other business, superintendent Manny Arvon said the board's Jan. 20 meeting will instead be held Jan. 27.