Posted Date: 12/09/2020
COPPERAS COVE, TX (December 2, 2020)—Three teachers have emerged as the winners of VFW Post #8577’s Teacher of the Year competition. VFW Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Candice Bowers of Martin Walker Elementary. Copperas Cove Junior High Teacher Haley McFarland won the VFW Middle School Teacher of the Year category and VFW High School Teacher of the Year is Vanessa Wheat of Copperas Cove High School.
Bower is an Army veteran and teaches kindergarten.
“It is important to me to instill patriotism and citizenship into our students at a very young age so they can appreciate the value of patriotism and selflessness of our men and women who serve this country,” Bower said. “Respect and loyalty are two very important things I teach my students everyday within the classroom so they can take pride knowing they live in a free country.”
Martin Walker Elementary Principal Earl Parcell said Bower epitomizes democratic values.
“Mrs. Bower is doing her part to instill upon her students democratic values and beliefs that support and promote civic responsibility and patriotism through her actions as a distinguished teacher, team member, role model, believer and citizen,” Parcell said.
The judges selected one teacher in grades Pre-K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 and those teachers’ nominations advanced to the district level on Tuesday. The nominees are selected based on their commitment to promote civic responsibility, teach flag etiquette and instill patriotism in their students.
McFarland teaches STEM to seventh graders and said being selected for VFW Teacher of the Year is an “absolute honor.”
“Being the spouse of an active duty soldier, I instill patriotism in my students and life every day,” McFarland said. “I am over the moon that I was considered for this title and I will fulfill my duties of being a role model for all of my students.”
Copperas Cove Junior High Principal Billy White said McFarland is willing and ready to serve her students, her team, and our campus whenever called upon.
“Mrs. McFarland is an excellent example for her students modeling responsibility and a strong work ethic as she navigates them through the complex content she teaches to them,” White said.
The winners of the district contest advance to the state level in Austin and then on to the national competition in Kansas City, Missouri where the VFW is headquartered.
Wheat, who has taught English at CCHS for more than a decade, said she is “speechless and honored to be selected” as the local high school VFW Teacher of the Year.
“The skills we teach allow us a platform to help students learn to think for themselves, process new ideas and grow into extraordinary young adults and productive citizens who can make vast changes in their communities,” Wheat said.
Copperas Cove High School Principal Jimmy Shuck said Wheat has a long family lineage with the military as her father was in the Air Force, her brother served in the Army and her son is in the Marines.
“Students are provided a safe place to participate, to share ideas and Ms. Wheat directs them in learning how to think, not thinking for them,” Shuck said.
S. C. Lee student Chloe Sanchez won the VFW Patriot’s Pen contest that requires students to write a 300-400 word essay reflecting on American history and how they view today’s society.
Cove High School student Areielle Dane won this year’s Voice of Democracy contest that requires students to record a 3-5 minute speech on a designated topic.
Winners of both the Voice of Democracy and Patriots’ Pen contests are honored along with the VFW Teachers of the Year at a ceremony at VFW Post #8577 in January.