GUERNSEY – Two Platte County teachers will compete for national honors after earning the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wyoming Smart/Maher VFW Citizenship Education Teacher Award.
Stacia Cook, a kindergarten teacher at Guernsey-Sunrise School, and Brian Boaz, a Wheatand High School history teacher, were named as winners in the elementary and high school category respectively.
The educators were selected from entries submitted by VFW posts across Wyoming. Lake Guernsey VFW Post 4471 and its Auxiliary in Guernsey sponsored Cook while VFW Post 3558 in Wheatland sponsored Boaz.
Cook, who is in her sixth year of teaching in Guernsey, said she loves teaching her students “about our country, community, respect for both and for our flag.”
“I am very honored about being awarded the VFW Smart/Maher Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the elementary level,” Cook said. “The VFW veterans in our community have been amazing to work with and our students love when they come in. I love seeing the way the veterans work with our students and how our students respond to them every week. Seeing our students faces when they lead the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the large crowd at the Veteran’s Day Assembly makes me proud and makes me want to be a part of this every year.”
“As a Veteran of the United States Navy, being recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars holds special significance for me,” said Boaz, who is in his 17th year of teaching in Wheatland. “I am deeply humbled to be the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher of the Year for the state of Wyoming. There are countless amazing teachers in the state of Wyoming, and I am honored to represent our great state at the national level.”
Both teachers will now compete for the national VFW Teacher of the Year award. Three national recipients each year receive a $1,000 donation to their individual professional development account, a $1,000 grant to their school and an all-expense-paid trip to attend the VFW National Convention in July to receive their national award.
The VFW recognizes more than 1,000 teachers at various levels during the nationwide competition, presenting hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards.
“We are so appreciative of Stacia Cook, Brian Boaz and every teacher who participated in the program,” said VFW Department of Wyoming Commander Josh Schmidt in a statement. “Their commitment to teach good citizenship to their students will greatly benefit our communities as these students grow into involved adults.”
The VFW Teacher of the Year award program was enacted in 1999, according to a press release, as a way to identify and recognize America’s best educators who instill a sense of national pride in students by teaching citizenship education topics regularly and promoting America’s history and traditions effectively.
VFW officials said the program continues to exceed expectations and program administrators expect the number of participants will continue to grow.