Shari Tonkery

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced 10 finalists for the 2023 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Finalists were selected among the Teachers of the Year from each school district. Recognizing these teachers brings honor to the profession, energizes students, enhances community respect for learning, and revitalizes teachers across the state.

This year’s finalists represent elementary, middle, and high school educators from all regions of the state and include: 


Sarah Bailey

Buffalo Middle School

Wayne County

Lisa Bryant

Point Pleasant Primary School

Mason County

Charity Marstiller

Jefferson High School

Jefferson County

Amber Nichols

Eastwood Elementary School

Monongalia County

David Patrick

DuPont Middle School

Kanawha County

Angel Reed

Fairplain Elementary School

Jackson County

Shawna Safreed

Bridge Street Middle School

Ohio County

Cameron Shannon

Crescent Elementary School

Raleigh County

Tanya Stewart

Gilmer County Elementary School

Gilmer County

Shari Tonkery

Lumberport Elementary School

Harrison County

“Teachers have an incredible, long-lasting impact on students. These ten finalists represent the very best in West Virginia,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “I am proud that they are serving our students and developing the next generation of leaders.”

Sarah Bailey is an eighth-grade science teacher at Buffalo Middle School in Kenova, West Virginia. Bailey currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Middle Childhood Education from Ohio University, and she has taught for eight years. Bailey takes great pride in pushing students to their academic boundaries, bringing real-world science phenomena alive in the classroom, and helping students become life-long learners with the ability to problem solve, make connections, and thrive in the world around them.  According to those who have witnessed her teaching, Bailey has an energized, immersive, and driven calling for sharing a passion for science. Beyond her commitment to the classroom, she serves as the chairperson of the science department, building representative for the American Federation of Teachers, and sponsor for the African Library Project Club.   

Lisa Bryant is a second-grade teacher at Point Pleasant Primary School in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Bryant holds a Bachelor of Arts in K-8 Education and K-12 Mentally Impaired Education, a Master of Arts in Learning Disabilities K-12, and a Master of Arts in Reading K-12, all of which have been obtained from Marshall University. Bryant has taught multiple grades and subjects during her 26 years in Mason County. Regardless of the grade she teaches, she prides herself on showing great compassion for her students as she discovers new ways to enhance their learning. Bryant’s role extends beyond the classroom as she serves as faculty senate president, the teacher in charge, a technology integration support liaison, and as a member of the leadership team. Bryant also teaches piano lessons to young musicians, plays piano for community events, and spends time with her family and dogs.

Charity Marstiller is a 25-year veteran agricultural education teacher at Jefferson High School in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia. Marstiller earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Environmental Education from West Virginia University. She strongly believes in the importance of providing her students with hands-on opportunities that incorporate the research, design, experimental, and problem-solving components of the agricultural field. In addition to the classroom, Marstiller serves as an FFA advisor, provides opportunities for students to develop their personal skills within the community and the agriculture industry, participates in community-service organizations targeting food insecurity, and participates in faculty senate. Outside of school, Marstiller enjoys spending time with her family.  

Amber Nichols is a kindergarten teacher at Eastwood Elementary School in Morgantown, West Virginia. Nichols currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Shepherd College and a Master of Education from West Virginia University. She has taught for 21 years. Nichols is an active member of Eastwood Elementary’s leadership, curriculum, and behavior intervention teams, and she is a mentor teacher for future teachers. She always strives to set rigorous academic and social-emotional goals for each child in her class, and she prides herself on creating an enriching classroom environment in which all students feel safe, loved, and appreciated. Nichols also enjoys writing and spending time with her husband, three children and two dogs.

David Patrick is the choral director and general music teacher at DuPont Middle School in Belle, West Virginia. Patrick holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Music Education from Marshall University and he has taught music for ten years in Kanawha County. His duties at DuPont Middle School include directing the 60-member chorus, directing the annual school musical, acting as the head of the Fine Arts department, and sponsoring DuPont Middle’s yearbook. He believes in upholding a learner-centered, inclusive classroom where all students are free to express themselves through performance and learn about relevant concepts through exposure to the arts. Outside of school, Patrick is an in-demand pianist and accompanist, serves as a musical director and accompanist for the Charleston Light Opera Guild, and serves as the choir director for his local churches. 

Angel Reed is a Nationally Board-Certified K-5 reading specialist at Fairplain Elementary School in Ripley, West Virginia. Reed has been teaching for 23 years, 19 of which have been spent at Fairplain Elementary. Reed holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education as a Reading Specialist, both from Marshall University. Reed believes that education can change lives and is passionate about implementing parental involvement activities that foster engagement within her community. In addition to her teaching duties, Reed is the faculty senate secretary, a member of the local school improvement council, a member of the leadership and curriculum teams, and is Fairplain Elementary’s coordinator for West Virginia Read Aloud. Beyond the classroom, Reed enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with her family.

Shawna Safreed is a seventh-grade reading teacher at Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling, West Virginia. Safreed holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from West Liberty State College and a Master of Arts in Technology Integration from West Liberty University. She has taught for 13 years and believes connections with her students are the most important aspect of her day. She is rooted in the belief that every student matters and every day matters in the classroom. Equally impressive to her classroom commitment, Safreed serves as the English Language Arts curriculum coordinator, leads students as they complete service projects within the community, serves as faculty senate secretary, and leads the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program at her school. Outside of the classroom, she serves as a Sunday School teacher at her church.

Cameron Shannon is physical education teacher at Crescent Elementary School in Beckley, West Virginia. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical and Health Education from Concord University, and he has taught for four years. Shannon’s goals at Crescent Elementary extend beyond teaching health and physical education to include building positive relationships with students, teaching them valuable life lessons, and emphasizing the importance of having high-quality character, both inside and outside of school. Shannon believes the power of a teacher goes beyond the classroom, and his practice revolves around making sure students become well-rounded people. He is eager to continue impacting and being impacted by students for the rest of his career as an educator. 

Tanya Stewart is Nationally Board-Certified pre-school teacher at Gilmer County Elementary School in Glenville, West Virginia. Stewart obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Glenville State College and her Master of Arts in Special Education and Early Intervention from West Virginia University. She continues to enhance her education through local, regional, and state workshops, and she also leads trainings for her fellow teachers on topics such as technology, co-teaching, social-emotional learning. Stewart supplements her classroom instruction by creating and fostering community partnerships. Outside of her classroom, Stewart is a member of the Cradle to Classroom team, on the PBIS committee, an Early Intervention Specialist, the Professional Development School Liaison for Glenville State University and Gilmer County, and the chair of the Healthy and Safe school committee.

Shari Tonkery is a third-grade teacher at Lumberport Elementary School in Lumberport, West Virginia. Tonkery received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Fairmont State University. She has taught in Harrison County for 14 years. According to her colleagues, Tonkery is a motivator, role model, advisor, and positive influence for every student that crosses her path. She believes in the importance of lifelong learning, growth mindsets, and the power of yet. Tonkery always strives to encourage her students to believe in themselves because she knows the power of perseverance. Making a difference in children’s lives academically, socially, and emotionally is Tonkery’s number one priority.

West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year and School Service Personnel of the Year will be announced on September 13, 2022, during a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston.


For more information about the West Virginia Teacher of the Year program, please visit the WVDE website.