Autumn Meadows Published

Running Into This Month’s Above And Beyond Winner Is Kara Vance

A photograph of an adult woman smiling for the picture while standing in front of a pink board that reads "ACES 2023." She is wearing a black t-shirt and pants while holding a blue Blenko Glass apple paperweight.
Kara Vance is WVPB's October 2023 Above and Beyond winner.
Autumn Meadows/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kara Vance, a physical education teacher for both Alum Creek Elementary and Kenna Elementary in Kanawha County, earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Above and Beyond Award for October, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.

Vance was presented the award by WVPB’s Education Director Maggie Holley during a surprise assembly at Alum Creek Elementary with the entire school in attendance. Vance received a monetary award and a signature Blenko Glass blue apple paperweight. The West Virginia State Treasurers’ Office sponsors the award and is the presenter of the SMART529 college savings program in the Mountain State.

Vance’s nomination starts with a strong testament. “Kara leads by doing. She has positive energy that attracts everyone to want to work with her and be part of what she is doing.” Whether she is leading her running club, organizing field day, or consoling a child, it is clear her positivity and leadership is felt in the school and community.

Although Vance has been an educator for 10 years, this is only her second year in physical education. She had previously been an English teacher for elementary, middle and high school. When asked about the transition, Vance said, “You go from telling kids to sit down, get quiet, and get your pencils out to get up, make some noise and asking why do you have a pencil?”

Vance built upon the programs in place at the schools and added new ideas, skills, and equipment for her students. According to her nomination, she began a running club, organized a Color Run, set new records for the American Heart Association Kids’ Heart Challenge, and then shared the funds to purchase a new speaker and hosted an impromptu dance party for the kids. She also volunteered to coach a soccer team when no one else could, even though she had never played soccer before.

Another achievement for Vance, was successfully organizing and implementing field day for both elementary schools. This consisted of a variety of outdoor stations with different activities that involved a lot of water and even a fire truck. She had fifth graders manage and run the stations for all the grades. She said they did very well, and it gave them an opportunity to practice their speaking skills. They also got to join in on the fun, too.

Not only does Vance include students and faculty in activities at the schools, but she also encourages parents and community members to get involved. She said, “We have great communities at both schools. You don’t even have to ask, and they are offering to help.”

She recalled eating lunch one day and seeing a parent outside setting up for the Color Run and another parent used a drone and put together video footage for them of the event.

One fifth grader proudly said in an interview, “Some things we all love about Mrs. Vance is that she’s funny, works hard and is the best gym teacher we’ve ever had. She’s cool and loves everybody in the school. We all love her.”

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 who goes “Above and Beyond,” please click here to nominate them.