Teresa Bragg, a K-5 special education teacher at Albert Harris Elementary School, was selected as Martinsville City Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year. She received the district’s top honor after being selected by her colleagues at Albert Harris Elementary School as Teacher of the Year for their school. She was previously named the school’s Teacher of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year.
Bragg has been teaching special education for 37-years, with 32 of those spent with the city. She currently teaches a K-5 self-contained special education classroom for students with intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, autism, and multiple disabilities. Bragg traced her decision to become a special education teacher back to her own time in school, when a book report for her English 12 class altered the course of her life.
The book she chose was the story of a nonverbal autistic boy who, through the diligence and determination of his mother, ultimately was able to speak and interact with the world around him. The book, she said, helped her realize the impact one person could have on the life of a child. Bragg enrolled at Ferrum College as an education major and eventually transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University’s special education program.
“They touch my heart,” Bragg said of her students. “I love my kids. I love creating activities so that I can see their smiles when they do what I’ve asked them to do. They’re so proud when they accomplish something.”
Dr. Cynthia Tarpley, city schools’ executive director of special education and student services, commended Bragg for her dedication to ensuring a positive learning experience for her students. She noted the sensory room at Albert Harris, designed and created by Bragg to help students develop their senses and learn through play, as just one example of that dedication.
“I believe that Ms. Bragg has a calling on her life,” said Renee Brown, the school’s principal. “This is evident in the manner in which she loves and cares for her students. She is a leader in our school, a mentor to new teachers, and an example of excellence in teaching.”
Barry Nelson, of Autos by Nelson, presented Bragg with the keys to a new car for her to drive for part of the year.
Teacher of the Year honors for other Martinsville schools went to:
– Melissa McNeill, an early childhood special education teacher at Clearview Early Learning Center
– Kim Ramirez, a 3rd through 5th grade special education teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School
– Jessica Clervoi, a math teacher at Martinsville Middle School
– Keona Walton, a special education teacher and English and math co-teacher at Martinsville High School.
Each teacher was chosen by their colleagues within their schools via ballot, while the district winner was selected by an anonymous, impartial review team.
“The MCPS family is very proud of our outstanding teaching professionals,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley. “We celebrate our educators and their great contributions to our community and nation. Our students are receiving a world-class education.”