Autumn Meadows Published

Nicholas County Teacher Goes Above And Beyond

Two women stand side-by-side in a classroom with colorful paper behind them on the wall.
WVPB's Director of Education Maggie Holley (left) and Theresa Dennison (right) during Dr. Seuss week at Panther Creek Elementary School.
Autumn Meadows/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Theresa Dennison, a kindergarten teacher at Panther Creek Elementary, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Above and Beyond Award for January 2023, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.

Dennison was presented the award by WVPB’s Education Director Maggie Holley. She received a monetary award and a signature Blenko Glass blue apple paperweight. The West Virginia State Treasurers’ Office sponsors the award, presenter of the SMART529 college savings program in the Mountain State.

Dennison has taught for a total of 27 years. When she was young, she started caring for children early, and when it was time to choose a career path, she knew that teaching was all she wanted to do. Dennison said, “I believe it was a calling, and after all my years teaching, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

During the pandemic, Dennison was especially dedicated and creative with reaching students not only in her classroom but children all over the county. This was especially beneficial for students who had limited or no internet access.

These lessons consisted of a story and an engaging STEM activity, encouraging students and parents to participate at home. Some examples of these recorded lessons included learning about germs and how they react to soap, Rapunzel and making parachutes from coffee filters, and Jack and the Beanstalk, where the children were shown how to make a zipline and help Jack escape the giant.

The lessons were organized so most students could participate at home with everyday items around the house. These lessons helped keep children engaged in learning at home and were even played throughout the summer. 

Dennison truly engages her kindergartners in literacy by having them learn and then perform nursery rhymes. For years, she has included parents in these performances. Even when they could not participate during the COVID-19 pandemic, she innovated and joined the Technology Specialist to use a green screen with the students and videotaped the musicals for all to enjoy at home.

Dennison loves her profession and says witnessing students grow socially and academically in their time together is her favorite part. She appreciates seeing them show kindness to one another and make connections in reading and writing. “Spending my days with young children reminds me to find joy in the simple aspects of life,” says Dennison.  

Each month, WVPB has an esteemed panel of judges that select one deserving teacher who goes above and beyond for the students in West Virginia. If you know of a deserving teacher that goes “Above and Beyond,” please click here to nominate them.