CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Three north central West Virginia teachers are finalists for the West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) 2023 West Virginia Teacher of the Year award, according to a press release sent Friday.

From Monongalia County, Eastwood Elementary School’s Amber Nichols, from Harrison County, Lumberport Elementary School’s Shari Tonkery and Gilmer County Elementary School’s Tanya Stewart are among the 10 finalists.

Nichols is a kindergarten teacher who has 21 years of experience. She serves as an active member of Eastwood Elementary’s leadership, curriculum, and behavior intervention teams, and as a mentor teacher for future teachers. She told the WVDE that while she sets rigorous academic and social-emotional goals for each child in her class, she also prides herself on the fact that her classroom is a safe space for students.

Lumberport Elementary’s Shari Tonkery, who is a finalist for the 2023 WV Teacher of the Year award. Credit: Harrison County Board of Education.

Stewart is a preschool teacher, but the WVDE wrote that she trains her fellow teachers so they can learn more about technology, co-teaching and social-emotional learning. She’s also a member of the Cradle to Classroom team, on the Positive Behavior Intervention Support committee, an Early Intervention Specialist, the Professional Development School Liaison for Glenville State University and Gilmer County, and the chair of the Healthy and Safe school committee.

Tonkery teaches third grade and has spent 14 years teaching in Harrison County. The WVDE says her colleagues describe her as a motivator, role model, advisor and positive influence for every student that crosses her path. Tonkery’s number one priority is to make a difference in children’s lives academically, socially and emotionally.

The winner of the Teacher of the Year and School Service Personnel of the Year will be announced on Sept. 13, 2022, during a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston. Click here to learn more about it.