Jenna Bush Hager headlines regional teaching award ceremony

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LeeAnn Scarberry

Vscarberry@Radford.Edu

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Radford University hosted the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence on Thursday, April 16. The ceremony was conducted by the McGlothlin Foundation and celebrated its sixteenth year.

     This event honored six finalists from the Blue Ridge region with two winners who were awarded $25,000 each for them to use to teach their students.

     Other events were scheduled throughout the day. There were presentations from previous winners as well as talks from professors about connecting to students.

     The key note speaker for the McGlothlin Awards was Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush.

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     Before the award ceremony, Hager held a question and answer session for students to go to that was focused primarily on her novel “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope,” which was published in 2007 after Hager traveled to Latin America with the UNICEF foundation.

    Ana’s Story tells the story of 17-year-old mother, Ana, who was born with HIV and lost her family to the virus at a young age. At the time of the book’s writing, Ana was raising her daughter while trying to shelter her from abuse and neglect that Ana had faced during her upbringing.

Hager discovered that Ana’s story was similar to that of many people in the United States, especially that of the students she taught in a school in D.C., many of which came from Latin America.

Since the publication of “Ana’s Story,” readers have reached out to her about this novel.

     “I got many letters and have met many people while on the book tour with a similar story to this,” said Hager.

     Since the release of the novel, Hager has visited Ana several times and has seen Ana’s daughter multiple times, witnessing her as she grows up.

     “We went back more recently and Ana’s daughter is in kindergarten now,” Hager said. “She ran to us and hugged us when we came in the door. I asked Ana how she knew us, and she said that she has shown her a picture of us every night since then.”

     Hager also gave a piece of advice to students in the audience about finding their passion in life, like she has found.

     “Don’t be too rigid about what you want to do in your life. If something comes up that could take you off of your path, don’t turn it down because of that.”

     After the Q&A, the McGlothlin Award was presented in Preston Hall where teachers from the area were cheered on by a crowd of students and fellow winners of this award.

     There were three teachers nominated in two categories: elementary and secondary. The elementary finalists were Glen Chilcote, Michelle Lionberger and Jalenda Settles. The secondary finalists were Charlene Gross, Tina Tapp, a Radford High School English teaceher, and Jill Winiger.

     The winners of the awards, and the $25,000, were Settles and Tapp. Both of the winners felt that the most important part of them winning were their students.

     They will both be traveling to multiple places to find additional knowledge to help teach their students as much as possible.

     The other nominees were awarded $1,000 as well as a trophy.