Sandra Ferrell, an English and Language Arts teacher, is the first Van High School teacher to win the annual award.
“It’s a very humbling,” Ferrell said in an interview with The Coal Valley News. “Being recognized by your peers is an honor.”
“Her students perform at higher levels because of her hard work, dedication and her belief that all of her students can and will succeed,” Steve Pauley, Lincoln County Schools superintendent said in his recommendation letter to the selection committee. “She puts her students first and is able to build strong student-teacher relationships. They know that she cares about their successes in her classroom, but more importantly, they know she cares more about their successes in life.”
“I want to thank Boone County Schools, for always offering cutting edge staff development opportunities for us all,” Ferrell said. “Their unwavering support and their dedication to students makes our county second to none. Mr. Steve Pauley was my first principal and I will always be grateful to him for setting high expectations for me as I began my career. I also want to thank all my colleagues in the building many of whom I have worked with for almost 20 years.”
Ferrell has been a teacher at Van High School since 1991.
“I love the school and I love the students, both past and present,” she said. “We are small and our staff works together to help every student learn to his or her potential. This honor is not just for me, but for every teacher and student in the building. Van High is the smallest high school in the county and I am very proud to be the Boone County Teacher of the Year, a Van High School Bulldog.”
Fellow teacher Rebecca Crawford said she has worked with Ferrell for 19 years.
“She is a thoughtful and selfless person and a conscientious teacher,” Crawford said.
Ferrell has received the Van Junior/Senior High School “Teacher of the Year” award three times during her career.
Van student Charissa Workman said Ferrell inspires her students to think outside the box.
“She creates an atmosphere in her class that makes learning fun,” she said. “She makes her class personal. She has influenced my life in so many ways with her lessons and guidance. It is because of her that I have realized teaching is what I truly wish to do with my future.”
Ferrell says her parents, teachers and life influenced her to become a teacher.
“Mother and Dad challenged us to learn more and study harder so that we could be our very best,” she said.
Ferrell said as a child she would study for hours and also had to take piano lessons.
“In addition to practice for show choir, all of these things instilled in me a love for all things academic,” she said.
Ferrell says many teachers throughout her life have had a tremendous impact on her love for learning. She added that church was also very important.
“As a minister’s daughter, church has always been an integral part of my life,” she said.
Ferrell has also been recognized for her work in the community.
“I work every year in a food drive where students canvass the community to collect non-perishable food items, asking individuals to share what they have,” she said. “We turn it to the VFW in Madison, where they in turn give it to needy families.”
Ferrell says teaching a young person is a worthwhile challenge.
“I believe that my greatest contribution in education are my passion for learning, my love for my students and my persistence in insisting that they learn,” she said. “Learning something new everyday is one of my goals and I model that in the classroom.”
Ferrell is married to Robert Ferrell and the couple has two adult children, Robbie and Natalie. She also has two granddaughters, Alisandra and Cailen.