At a special “Celebration of Excellence” event hosted in partnership with the Cabell County Schools Foundation Tuesday, May 27, 2021, Cabell County Schools announced its Service Employee of the Year and Teacher of the Year.
The 2021 Service Employee of the Year is Shelby Lucas, a secretary at Explorer Academy. The 2022 Teacher of the Year is Brian Casto, a West Virginia Studies teacher at Milton Middle School.
The foundation and district recognized Ms. Lucas and Mr. Casto, as well as the four additional finalists for each award, with specially-prepared biographies and spotlight videos. Lucas and Casto received cash prizes of $1,000 each as well as a unique, individualized Blenko award vase. The remaining finalists each received a $500 cash prize. The cash prizes were awarded by the Cabell County Schools Foundation and made possible by donations from corporate sponsors. The event sponsors included: Bowles Rice, Edward Tucker Architects, Inc., Kindred Communications, McKinley Architecture & Engineering, The Gladwell Agency (Horace Mann), United Bank and ZMM Architects and Engineers.
The ceremony was attended by special guests Clayton Burch, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Michelle Blatt, Deputy State Superintendent, and Christy Day, Communications Director for the West Virginia Department of Education.
Both Lucas and Casto will advance to the state-level Service Employee and Teacher of the Year recognition programs where a West Virginia Service Employee of the Year and West Virginia Teacher of the Year will be selected.
Shelby Lucas has worked in Cabell County Schools for nearly seven years. Six of those years have been at Explorer Academy. Ms. Lucas has taken many professional development courses including “Lessons from the Mouse”, a book study on customer service, and “Engaging Students Online” a virtual communication training. Lucas has also served the district’s Office of Service Personnel as a trainer for newly-hired secretaries and bookkeepers. Shelby is a member of the Junior League of Huntington and is a service personnel representative on the Explorer Academy Leadership Team. The school’s Assistant Principals, Mary Beth Svingos, said, “Ms. Lucas is the heart of the Explorer Academy and is the engine that keeps their train moving forward.”
Brian Casto has been in the education field for thirteen years and holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies, grades 5 –12. Mr. Casto has been nominated for the 2021 Honorary Golden Horseshoe Award for his two-minute animated videos that promote the history and culture of West Virginia. Brian is member of Milton Middle School’s Leadership Team, has been a Team Leader for the past five years, is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes School Sponsor, is a WV Quiz Bowl Coach, and, most recently, has been asked to work with a colleague creating a curriculum map for West Virginia Studies. In his spare time, Mr. Casto coaches T-Ball, and enjoys serving at his church working with teens in the youth group. Mr. Curt Mann, Milton Middle Principal said, “Mr. Brian Casto embodies what the future of education looks like in that he is educating beyond the boundaries of his students and classroom. He is not only an exemplary teacher, but also an exemplary person.”
“All of the employees honored are among the absolute best in their professions,” says Ryan Saxe, Cabell County Schools Superintendent. “To make it as a finalist for either one of these highly-competitive awards is a major accomplishment, especially when you consider that so many of the district’s employees have stepped up and out of their comfort zones this past year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to completely reimagine their work to continue providing instruction and other supportive services to the children and families of Cabell County. I am so very proud of our winners, the finalists, and all the district’s employees for doing whatever is necessary to serve students during this challenging school year.”
Pictured below are the finalists honored as part of the Service Employee of the Year award:
Pictured below are the finalists honored as part of the Teacher of the Year award program: