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Teacher of Year inspired to teach in Jazzercise class

WHEELING, W.Va. — West Virginia’s 2015 Teacher of the Year did not start out in teaching.

Gail Adams, an English and Fine Arts teacher at Wheeling Park High School in Ohio County, came to the profession a decade ago — at the age of 47.

Wheeling Park High School teacher Gail Adams, center, was named West Virginia’s Teacher of the Year Wednesday night.

“I had raised my children and I knew that I wanted to still be in touch with our youth and teaching high school English seemed to be the way to go,” said Gail Adams on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” a day after she was introduced as Teacher of the Year in Charleston.

Adams said she found the inspiration for her new career while teaching a Jazzercise class.

“In the songs, I was always correcting the grammar and the lyrics and I said to my class one day, ‘Maybe I should become an English teacher,'” Adams said.

“I love words. I love literature and grammar and so you’ve got to turn a passion into something you can do for a living.”

In the classroom, she said her goal is always to get her students interested in learning. “I think that it’s infectious, that if you show them that you are excited about what you’re doing then that kind of rubs off on them, at least I hope it does,” Adams said.

“I think it’s just so important to show students you care, that you are there because you want to be there and you want to have a relationship with them.”

Adams was chosen as Teacher of the Year from a list of finalists that also included Connie Scarbrough from Upshur County, Rosetta Epifano from Marshall County, Kathi McCormick from Kanawha County and Brenda Omps from Hampshire County — all county Teacher of the Year winners.

The announcement was made Wednesday night during a ceremony in Charleston.

The state Teacher of the Year receives a $15,000 educational technology package and the use of a Toyota car for a year along with cash awards from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Horace Mann Insurance

“I am just so honored to be selected to represent all of the amazing educators in the state of West Virginia,” Adams said. “This is an honor that I never ever thought would be a possibility.”

This year’s Schools of Excellence in West Virginia were also recognized on Wednesday night. They are Brandywine Elementary in Pendleton County, George Washington Elementary in Putnam County and Maxwell Hill Elementary in Raleigh County.

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