POQUOSON — Poquoson High School teacher Lauren Osborn was named 2016 Virginia Region 2 Teacher of the Year in a surprise ceremony Monday morning at the school.
People had been acting strangely around her all morning, she said. And within minutes of entering what she thought was a school event, her named was announced and she was suddenly one of eight finalists for state teacher of the year.
"It's completely overwhelming," Osborn said. "I don't even know that I really was able to have thoughts. I never thought this would be happening at all."
Poquoson City Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Parish and Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Staples made remarks and presented a certificate and bouquet of flowers to Osborn.
Osborn started crying when the announcement was made, and got a moment to compose herself as the PHS band, cheerleaders and Bull mascot performed briefly. A group of School Board and City Council members, students, teachers and school administrators at the celebration included Osborn's parents and her best friend, who is a fellow teacher and mentor.
Osborn's husband started a new job after getting his doctorate last week and was unable to attend. The couple just reunited after living apart while he got the degree in Ohio.
Osborn, 30, is a York County native and graduate of Grafton High School. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees from James Madison University, and a National Board Certification for teaching.
She teaches 11th grade English, including Advanced Placement classes. Osborn also serves as English department chair and secretary and school division representative to the Southeastern Virginia National Board Certified Teacher Regional network, according to a statement from schools officials.
Throughout her tenure in Poquoson, she has co-coached girls' varsity tennis and worked with the drum majors in the Islander Marching Band. Osborn was selected as the high school and school division teacher of the year this past spring.
"For me, at least, it's just the students," Osborn said. "You meet so many just resilient, smart, funny students all the time. And I think the relationships that I've tried to build with them, that's been what gets me through all the many bad days."
On Monday attendees beamed as they snapped photos and shared food and drinks at a reception table at the school's Butterfly Garden.
"I was beyond thrilled," Parish said. "I was just thrilled. We know that we have great teachers here in Poquoson and the state's recognized one of our many excellent teachers. She'll do a great job representing us."
Staples, who was York County School Division superintendent when Osborn was a student there, said he knew her parents well during that time.
"Her mom and dad said she'd wanted to teach for a long time," Staples said. "And seeing that kind of enthusiasm and desire rewarded in someone who's so expert at what she does, it's just terrific. It's a sign that sometimes teachers are born."
Irene Leopold, Osborn's mother, said she taught briefly in her younger days before staying home with her own children. She and Lauren's father, Otto, still live in York County.
"I couldn't be more proud and happy for her," Irene Leopold said. "I'm thrilled to death. She's wanted to do this since she was four or five years old, teaching her grandmother."
Osborn said she did indeed teach family members in her living room as a small child. Now she will attend the Virginia Teacher of the Year awards ceremony in Richmond Oct. 19 where the state teacher of the year will be named.
That teacher will be the state's nominee for national teacher of the year.
"It's a huge region and having it include the high school that I went to, I just know so many amazing teachers so it's pretty incredible," Osborn said.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-247-4644.
Region 2 teacher of the year
Region 2 is comprised of 16 school divisions, including 373 schools that are eligible to select a teacher of the year.