Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, will be speaking at the West Virginia University Erickson Alumni Center April 12.

Peeples, an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, TX, will give the keynote speech for the College of Education and Human Services’ Go First Speaker Series. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will be open to the public.

As Teacher of the Year, Peeples is using her experiences in Amarillo – which has the most refugees per capita in Texas – to speak out about working with children in poverty and how to teach those who have experienced extreme challenges in their lives.

“To be the best teacher to them, I have to remember [their experiences] and honor their background,” said Peeples. “I remember so I can gain their trust because I want them to read and write their way out of where they are.”

And so far she has been successful in this endeavor. Using a variety of teaching methods, Peeples has a multitude of ways to reach out to her students, with technology and collaborative learning a priority in her classroom.

But Peeples is reaching out to more than just her high schoolers. She also instructs an adult English class in the evenings for second language learners, volunteers to promote literacy in her community, and is passionate about therapeutic reflective writing groups.

Additionally, she takes time to coach her fellow teachers.

“I want teachers to remember that they are artists of human potential,” Peeples said. “We never know where our teaching might take a student’s imagination. And that like art, learning is messy and takes time.”

Peeples will hold an informal workshop with an advanced teacher education class during her time on campus, helping to translate her struggles with impoverished students to West Virginia educational issues.

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers and presented by Voya Financial, identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

For more information about the event, please contact Alumni Relations and Special Events Coordinator Mary Beth Sickles at 304-293-3292 or at

A live webcast will be available via with a recorded version offered following the event.



CONTACT: Mary Beth Sickles, College of Education and Human Services

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