Isle of Wight celebrates teachers, retirees

Published 10:23 am Friday, May 25, 2018

Isle of Wight County Schools held its fourth annual Education Celebration Dinner on Tuesday evening in The Smithfield Center, at which nine teachers were honored as this year’s teachers of the year.

Awards were based on nominations from fellow teachers. This year’s division teacher of the year award went to Beverly Burke of Smithfield Middle School. Burke was also named middle school teacher of the year.

“What an honor to have your peers hold you in such high regard,” said Vicky Hulick, chairwoman of the Isle of Wight County School Board. “I truly believe we have the best teachers in Isle of Wight County so you had some tough competition. From the school board, I want to thank you for a job well done.”

At Windsor High School, the teacher of the year award went to Margaret Halstead, who was also named the division’s high school level teacher of the year. Kimberly St. George, who teaches at Georgie D. Tyler Middle School was named that school’s teacher of the year.

Windsor Elementary’s teacher of the year award went to Elizabeth Littlefield, who teaches fifth grade.

“I feel honored to be selected by my peers because I work with many amazing teachers, and I learn from my peers daily,” Littlefield said. “There is always a different method for engagement, a strategy to teach a different skill, or new applications that make the classroom exciting. I could not possibly master all of these new concepts on my own, but continue to learn from my coworkers.”

One factor that may have led Littlefield’s peers to choose her as teacher of the year may have been her work with other grade levels and classes, in addition to her own. She teaches at the Tidewater Regional Governor’s School and, this year, coached teams at Windsor Elementary for the Great Computer Challenge. This is an extracurricular competition for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade to demonstrate their knowledge of various computer applications and their programming skills in categories such as graphic design, desktop publishing, music composition, web design, CAD and other disciplines.

The competition is presented via a partnership between the local radio station WHRO, the Consortium for Interactive Instruction and Old Dominion University. Windsor fielded a total of 27 students on nine teams in grades K-5.

Last year, Littlefield also coached Windsor Elementary’s first-ever Lego Robotics competition team. She has been teaching fifth grade since 2007 and was a substitute teacher for Isle of Wight County Schools prior to that. This is her first teacher of the year award.

Carrsville Elementary’s teacher of the year award went to Andrea “Cherie’” Karmilovich, who teaches preschool.

“I don’t think it was any one particular thing but a combination of things,” Karmilovich said of why she felt her peers had nominated her. “I dress up a lot for each letter [of the alphabet], cook a lot for each letter and try to bring the curriculum to life.”

This is Karmilovich’s third time being named teacher of the year. Her first award was when she was named Capron Elementary’s teacher of the year and division teacher of the year for Southampton County Public Schools during the 1994-1995 school year. Her second came when she was teaching at J.P. King Jr. Elementary School, now a middle school, in the city of Franklin during the 2001-2002 school year. She has been a teacher for a total of 29 years, the past three with Isle of Wight County Schools.

Twenty-two teachers and staff members who will retire at the end of the current school year were also honored for their years of service.

Retirees from the Windsor and Carrsville areas of the county include Diane Pearson and Mary Clair Dunningham, both of Windsor Elementary; Marjorie McClenny and Ronald Reese, both of Carrsville Elementary; Kyle Barnes and Susan Turner, both of Georgie D. Tyler Middle School; and Carla Duck of Windsor High School. Additionally, Betty Entsminger, Linda Stokes and Teresa Brindle, both of the central office, and bus drivers Charles Barber and Barbara Insley will also be retiring.

Turner, who is currently the secretary at GTMS, said she plans to spend her retirement spending more time with her grandson. She has been with the division for 11 years and started at Windsor Elementary.

Barnes, who previously retired from the Air Force after serving for 23 years, has taught seventh and eighth grade science at GTMS for the past 10 years. Prior to coming to GTMS, he was a fourth grade teacher at Carrollton Elementary.

“I am happy to be retiring, but I will miss the children and the feedback from them saying that I made a difference,” Barnes said. “I thank my wife for her support and her encouragement. Without her, it would have been very challenging at times.

“I live on over six acres of wooded land and have horses, goats, chickens, a turtle and a rabbit, and two dogs. I have a fish-filled pond, a fishing boat for the James River and a touring motorcycle that my wife loves to be on.

“I do not fear being bored, I only fear the ‘honey-do’ lists that my wife comes up with. In all honesty, after almost 45 years of working, I look forward to my coffee in the morning on my deck, traveling and not being on any more schedules.”

Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of community and media relations, said that the combination teacher of the year and retirement banquet began in May 2014. There had previously been a retirement ceremony of some form since the early 1990s.