GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Gilmer County bus driver Susie Kirkpatrick was cheering in delight Tuesday night at practice with county student-athletes after she was named Service Personnel of the Year by the state. But on Wednesday, it became real, as State Superintendent Clayton Burch traveled to Glenville to present her award in person. Kirkpatrick started driving as a sub 40 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
“I just fell in love with it. I love working with the kids, I love being around the kids, I was 4-H leader for thirty years with my own kids, I’ve raised three good kids, and I love getting up every morning going to work,” said Kirkpatrick.
She said it’s more than just driving, though. She sees when kids are hungry or dealing difficulties at home, and Burch said caring for those students has become more important than ever this year.
“It’s been important every year, but what we’ve seen through the pandemic of what these individuals have done just for our children and let’s just be honest, what they’ve done to support the state of West Virginia. They are the true champions that have been there for our children,” Burch said.
Burch then traveled east to Upshur County, honoring Tennerton Elementary School teacher Erin Anderson as state Teacher of the Year. Her victory means she will represent West Virginia in the national competition. But Anderson said all the extra recognition is only an added bonus.
“The feeling that you get whenever you reach that hard to reach child when they are smiling in front of you and a kid understands a concept for the first time, it’s unlike anything else,” Anderson said.