Larry Bellorín is a musician from Venezuela, who is seeking asylum in the U.S. He thought his musical career was in the past until he met Joe Troop, a GRAMMY-nominated musician and North Carolina native who introduced Larry to the folk music and traditions of Appalachia, which seemed quite similar to the joropo he played in Venezuela. Their duo, Larry & Joe, is the realization of a dream for both musicians. It’s also a reminder for Larry of what — and who — he had to leave behind.
Man Middle School Teacher Is Our Latest Above And Beyond Winner
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Garron Staten, a seventh-grade teacher from Logan County, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Above and Beyond Award, which recognizes excellence and creativity in West Virginia teachers.
Staten was honored by WVPB during a Man Middle School assembly where he was presented with a monetary award, our signature Blenko Above and Beyond blue apple paperweight, a certificate of recognition, and a host of other special gifts made possible by the sponsorship of Advantage Technology.
“Thank you sincerely to WVPB for all that you do with education for both students and teachers in this state,” Staten said. “I was humbled to be nominated … Sometimes we feel that our jobs go unnoticed and the extra time is spent in vain. All teachers have put in extra time and have worked tirelessly this year more than ever. It is for all of them for whom I accept this award and truly appreciate all teachers. I don’t feel like I deserve the award alone because I am sure there are teachers out there who remain unrecognized who also go above and beyond!
“I would like to also thank my three children for encouraging me to do better and my wife for allowing me to spend a little extra money and a little extra time for our students and never allowing me to give up when I felt it was too much,” Staten said. “Finally, I would like to thank the awesome students at Man Middle School for working so hard during these trying times!”
WVPB Education Director Kelly Griffith said it was an honor to meet Staten and visit with students from Man. “Mr. Staten is one of those teachers a student never forgets,” Griffith said. “I immediately recognized his kindness toward his students as well as his dedication to their success. His teaching style makes learning enjoyable and his use of educational technology was a big hit! It was an honor to meet him and visit his classroom. We appreciate his efforts and thank him for all his hard work.”
Donetta Rainwater, a fellow teacher/administrator, nominated Staten. She said he goes above and beyond the call of duty especially during “this confusing time of miscommunication and technology difficulties.” Well-versed in several applications, Staten helps other teachers in the county learn them, even making step-by-step video tutorials for his colleagues.
“He not only helps teachers at this school, but he opens himself up for teachers across the county if needed. He is a true leader,” Rainwater said.
Having taught both English and science, the technical wiz is also creative. He created science lessons where students built their own Operation-style games from scratch, and in the past, he has had multiple winners in the CEDAR, Inc. Coal Fair and Young Writers Contest.
Staten has even designed virtual escape rooms, choice boards, online board games and other creative assets to help students learn in a fun environment. “He doesn’t use generic templates. He creates them and shares them!” Rainwater said, adding that Staten decorates his room for holidays, dresses up for Halloween, Christmas and Star Wars Day and always has something interesting for his students to do.
“More importantly, Mr. Staten is one of only two teachers in the school who mentor fifth-to-eighth-grade students in the evenings through an AmeriCorps after-school program that helps emotionally, and academically struggling students succeed,” Rainwater said. The program provides one-on-one assistance to give students extra attention where it is needed, whether it be homework, projects, playtime or crafts.
Staten takes his commitment into the community. He solicits businesses for donations for special events. Pre-pandemic, he invited speakers into his classroom. Now, he has them join by Skype. Although he’s not a math teacher, he helped create a commercial to promote a math contest and got local businesses to sponsor and donate prizes.
“He loves promoting positive things happening in and around his school community, such as student successes after winning contests. He likes to make his school look good!” Rainwater said.
Darlene Dingess-Adkins, assistant superintendent of Logan County Schools, was on hand for the assembly and awards presentation. “I want to extend my appreciation for the commitment that West Virginia Public Broadcasting has made to support education in West Virginia,” Dingess-Adkins said. “The efforts that your team has made to support and recognize outstanding teachers are amazing! We are proud of Mr. Garron Staten and his outstanding work with the students at Man Middle School and look forward to the continued work of WVPB.”
Master Sgt. Mike Wiley, a JROTC instructor at Monroe County Technical Center, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Above and Beyond Award for March, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.
Kristi Sanders, a reading and math interventionist at North Jefferson Elementary in Kearneysville, Jefferson County, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Above and Beyond Award for February, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.