Van Buren Teacher Named State VFW Middle School Teacher Of The Year

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VAN BUREN (KFSM)—A local middle school teacher received a prestigious award that puts her in the running for national recognition.

The entire eighth grade class at Butterfield Trail Middle school filed into the auditorium Tuesday morning (May 10). They  didn’t know why they were there, and neither did their social studies teacher Ashleigh Gillespie.

“We were walking in and some of the other teachers were like `Do you know why we`re here?` And I was like, `No. Do you know why we`re here?’ Actually I thought it was the ninth grade academy coming and talking to students, so I had no idea,” Gillespie said.

It turns out, Principal Karen Endel nominated Gillespie for the VFW Teacher of the Year Award, in the grades 6 through 8 category. She not only won at the district level, but also at the state level.

There are nine posts in our district, and there are 90 posts in the state,” Matthew Hicks, VFW Post 1322 said. “Then there are 7,000 posts worldwide that she`s in competition against.”

Gillespie is now one of 50 nominees for the national VFW Award.

“I`m very excited,” she said. “It`s a huge honor. I definitely didn`t expect it, but I`ve got really great students this year and they`ve just pushed me over and over again to be better.”

She said it's important for her students to not just hear about history, but that they also have the opportunity to live it.

“When we talk about the election, we go through the process of an election in class, which is what we`re doing right now,” Gillespie said.

“You can really see how enthusiastic she is in teaching, and she`s really passionate about it,” student Astrid Rodriguez said.” She really is one of my favorite teachers that I`ve had so far.”

If Gillespie wins the VFW National Teacher of the Year Award, she will be presented with a plaque and $1,000 for her classroom at the VFW conference in Charlotte, North Carolina this July.  Butterfield Middle School will also receive $1,000.