Rawls Byrd teacher named W-JCC Teacher of the Year

A fifth grade teacher at Rawls Byrd Elementary School took top honors at the division’s Teacher of the Year ceremony Wednesday evening.

After being chosen as most outstanding at Rawls Byrd, Lauren Efird was named Teacher of the Year of all nine elementary schools last week and, on Wednesday, of the all Williamsburg-James City County schools.

“We go to work every day and do our best and do what we love,” Efird said. “Who gets to go to work everyday and say ‘I make a difference?’ I just think that the kids are the real winners here.”

Of the 16 teachers recognized at each school, three were named as top of their level: Efird for elementary schools, Toano science teacher Jaclyn Beck for middle schools and Warhill chemistry teacher Kristin Cosby for high schools.

All three were recognized at Wednesday’s ceremony.

Superintendent Olwen Herron said the division-wide teacher of the year was chosen after reviewing the teachers’ nominations, interviewing them and visiting each one’s classroom.

Efird is an eight-year veteran in the classroom; she’s also a Minority Achievement Leader at Rawls Byrd.

“I just feel like my whole Rawls Byrd staff should be up here, my team, my administration, I just feel so supported,” Efird said. “Thank you all so much for this honor, I am so happy.”

Herron commended Efird’s “daily meetings” with students and her efforts to keeps students’ families involved in their education. Herron also said Efird goes beyond teacher her fifth-grade students as she mentors student-teachers at the College of William and Mary’s School of Education.

“She loves kids,” said Rawls Byrd principal Karen Swann. “We are so proud of her, she totally deserves it.”

All three teachers walked away with an apple trophy topped by a golden leaf and, later, a check worth at least $500. 

The amount given to each depends on donations collected by the Superintendent’s Business and Community Advisory Committee. The committee saw increased giving over the last few days, which meant the totals were still be calculated, committee chairman Dustin DeVore said.

Last year the honor went to Berkeley Middle School English teacher Shari Vandygriff.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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