Harrison Evans Published

Berkeley Springs Teacher Wins Above And Beyond Award


Marianna Ruggiero, an elementary school teacher from Morgan County has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Above and Beyond Award, which recognizes excellence and creativity in Mountain State teachers.

Ruggiero was honored by WVPB in front of her art class, nominator and administrator at Warm Springs Intermediate School in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, where she was presented a monetary award, our signature Blenko Above and Beyond blue apple paperweight, and a host of other special gifts made possible by the sponsorship of Advantage Technology. She is our winner for August.

Ruggiero is an art teacher in and team leader for her Related Arts program, which includes the subject areas of art, computer, library, music and physical education. She serves on the principal’s cabinet and encourages students to create art for the annual Youth Art Show every March at the local art center in Berkeley Springs.

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Marianna Ruggiero
“In 2019, all grade levels at WSIS collaborated to create this 8 x 12 mural completely from plastic trash to raise awareness about the plastic pollution in our oceans. The mural is on display at the Ice House in Berkeley Springs,” Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero also promotes and encourages students to create art for the annual Youth Art Show every March at the local art center in Berkeley Springs.

Retired school library media specialist Susan Thomas nominated Ruggiero for this honor stating that she prioritizes her students and is a dedicated member of the community working hard to give back to it. “Marianna’s primary concern is with the students, providing engaging lessons and giving opportunities for all abilities, developing ideas, applying for grants, and figuring out the logistics have contributed to the successful community projects she has accomplished,” Thomas said. “Teaching is a hard job and, especially in these past couple of years, every teacher has had to go above and beyond. Ms. Ruggiero spends countless hours planning projects, securing funds, facilitating projects, and always putting students first. From a tiny drawing to an impressive mural for the community, her students learn how to express themselves through art.”


Harrison Evans
(L-R): Susan Thomas (nominator), Marianna Ruggiero (August Above and Beyond winner) and Rebecca Huber (administrator)

Ruggiero not only has a passion for teaching but was thankful to be recognized for it. “I am truly blessed to get to do what I love for a living, but it’s not all unicorns and rainbows (although they do make appearances),” Ruggiero said. “It’s hard work! I appreciate that West Virginia Public Broadcasting is recognizing teachers, as so many go ‘Above And Beyond’ every day.”

She said she enjoys a challenge and tries to provide experiences for her students that are cross-curricular, relevant to their lives, and often have connections to the community. “Our Intermediate students are the best, and they inspire me to continue learning and improving. I know that most of my students won’t grow up to become professional artists, but I think the skills learned in art class (creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, communication, etc.) will serve them well, wherever their lives’ paths lead,” Ruggiero said. “I especially want to thank Susan Thomas for nominating me, and principal Rebecca Huber for always supporting me when I come to her with my ‘outside the box’ ideas!”

Principal Rebecca Huber agrees that Ruggiero goes above and beyond every day for the students at Warm Springs Intermediate and her community.

“Miss Ruggiero has always provided opportunities for our students to showcase their artwork in various ways throughout our community. From bottle-cap murals to pottery displays, she has had students experience art in a way that few intermediate-aged students ever get to,” Huber said. “She’s been nominated for Morgan County Teacher of the Year, had her work showcased at the STEAM Power of West Virginia conference, presented at the Arts in Communities conference, and has received numerous grants that help support her classroom. In addition to everything she does for the students and staff at Warm Springs Intermediate School, she also serves as a collaborative arts integration teacher for the Morgan Arts Council. The students and staff of WSIS are incredibly lucky to have her as their art teacher.”