As the director of a state-champion band, Bassett High School band teacher Trey Harris walked into the auditorium Thursday morning thinking he was there to celebrate his students' accomplishments. It turns out, they were there to celebrate him.
As Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton was speaking, a teacher came up to the podium and handed him a box. Pretending to look puzzled, Cotton opened the box, which contained a letter from Governor Bob McDonnell congratulating Harris on being named Region 6 Teacher of the Year (Region 6 includes most of Southwest Virginia). He then read it to a stunned Harris and everyone in the room.
"I was really surprised," Harris said. "I really had no idea."
Harris has been at Bassett High School for 18 years and says he's "tickled" the state would pick him to receive this honor.
"Just teaching every day is reward enough for me," he said. "We all like recognition and we all like to think that someone has seen us go the extra mile, but it's all about the kids."
His students say they're not surprised by the selection.
"He's awesome," said Caylee Joyce, a band student at BHS and one of the marching band's drum majors. "I'm so very happy for him. It's awesome. I definitely think he deserves it. He's worked really hard."
It's the first time a Henry County Public Schools teacher has ever received this distinction, and school leaders say it's a sign of the positive things happening in their division.
"We're busy doing the work each and every day," Cotton said, "but it's nice when you get recognition like this from time to time because it lets you know you're moving in the right direction."
Harris is now officially in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in a few weeks.
Two other teachers in our viewing area were also recognized by the state. Jennifer Lovett, who is a reading specialist at Linkhorne Elementary in Lynchburg, was named Region 5 Teacher of the Year. Chilhowie Middle School computer technology teacher Tina Cook won Region 7 Teacher of the Year.