CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education announced Katlin Thorsell as the 2018 West Virginia Teacher of Year during a ceremony Monday at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.
Thorsell, 28, is in her fifth year of teaching Agriculture Education at Washington High School in Charles Town, where she also serves as National FFA Organization adviser.
She described receiving the honor as “surreal.”
“I think for me it just represents the quality of education that I’ve had,” she said. “I’ve grown up here in West Virginia. I’ve gone to college here. For me, it’s just a culmination of my education and now that education I can give to my students.”
Thorsell was more than a student in West Virginia; she went to school in Jefferson County, where Washington High School is located. She said she originally had a goal of becoming a veterinarian, but that changed in high school.
“My high school ag teacher spent a lot of time with me after school with FFA events, and seemed to really care,” she said. “That really impacted me in seeing his dedication to see students succeed.”
Thorsell added while at Alderson Broaddus University, it took until her final semester of college to decide on teaching agriculture.
“It just hit me,” she said. “I was an FFA member throughout high school career and I didn’t want to be done with it. I went to WVU and did my master’s in ag education.”
Thorsell said as a teacher, her job is to help students become contributing members of society.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are having a bad day or I might get on them about something they are doing in class,” she said. “Ultimately, we’re here to see them be successful.”
As part of the recognition, Thorsell will receive $5,000 from both Highmark West Virginia and The Horace Mann Companies, a classroom technology package from SMART Technologies, and the use of a Toyota car for one year. Each county finalist will receive $300 from the West Virginia Lottery.
Thorsell will compete for the National Teacher of the Year Award. According to the West Virginia Department of Education, the national winner will be announced in April.