RU Alumna a finalist in teaching award

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Tina Tapp, a 9th grade English teacher at Radford High School and RU alumna has been named a finalist for the 15th Annual McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence.

The award will be given to two educators in the region: one from elementary school and one from secondary school.

Tapp and the five other finalists sent in a 20-minute video lesson that demonstrated their presence in the classroom as well as the use of instructional technology.

Tapp is one of three finalists in the secondary category. Her competition consists of Charlene Gross from Washington County, Virginia and Jill Wininger from Johnson City, Tennessee.

Tapp grew up in Radford and attended both Radford High School and Radford University. Her mother taught at Bell Heath Elementary, paving the way for her own teaching career. Both women have also received their National Board Certifications for professional teaching standards.

“The process that I’m going through now,” says Tapp, “I have to credit my mom with a lot of my inspiration. I’ve sort of followed in her footsteps.”

Tapp believes that completing the National Board Certification enriched her as a teacher.

“When I did the National Board, I had to really reflect on who I am as a teacher,” states Tapp, adding, “It forced me to rethink my teaching strategies and forced me to reconsider what was going to help the students learn at their best capacity.”

Highlighted in Tapp’s 20-minute video is her innovative unit on the Holocaust. Through the use of Google Earth and Google Tour Builder, Tapp created an original, interactive unit on the history and journey of young people during the Holocaust.

According to Blue Ridge PBS, the two winners will receive $25,000 each to be used for, “international travel to broaden the thinking and experience of the winning teachers, further enhancing their excellence as professional educators.”

The prospect of traveling excites Tapp, who states that she’s never owned a passport. If chosen as the winner, Tapp plans to visit Germany, Poland, and Buenos Aires to help strengthen her knowledge about the Holocaust.

“If I can lay eyes on some of these places, and stand there and feel what that feels like as a teacher, I’ll be more effective,” says Tapp.

The judges, who include professional education leaders from many major colleges and universities in the region, will make their decision based on the videos and interviews with the finalists.

If selected the winner, Tapp would be the first educator from Radford to win the award.

Radford High School Principal Jeff Smith sees the award as a great honor for both Tapp and the school.

“It would give her not only the opportunity to travel, but also the recognition throughout the region would mean so much to her and the school as well,” says Smith, later adding, “It’d be really nice to say that we had a teacher from Radford City Schools win the McGlothlin Award.”

The two winners will be announced April 16 at an awards ceremony hosted by Radford University’s College of Education and Human Development.

Jenna Bush Hager, a former educator and the daughter of former President George W. Bush will speak at the ceremony.