By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
STUARTS DRAFT — They said it could not be done.
Two teachers from the same school are never named Teacher of the Year.
But just that happened at Stuarts Draft Elementary School when fourth-grade teacher Erica Cason was named Augusta County Teacher of the Year 2021.
Last year’s winner was Emily Hewitt, also from Stuarts Draft Elementary.
“It’s still kind of shocking to think about,” said Cason. “I was really surprised to find out.”
Cason said she knows of a lot of exceptional teachers during the 2020-2021 academic year who survived teaching remotely during a global pandemic.
Cason said she thinks she was nominated for the distinction because of her project-based learning through the county school system’s Trailblazers program.
Cason’s students did a few projects this past academic year through the program. In the fall, they created resources for other students for Bloomakers in Stuarts Draft.
“So, we created and shared it with [Bloomakers], and it’s now on their website,” Cason said of crossword puzzles, plant diagrams and plant care guides.
Cason, a 1998 graduate of Riverheads High School, lives in Stuarts Draft with her husband, Jeremy, and their two sons.
Her post-high school education began at Eastern Mennonite University but she finished at Mary Baldwin University with a bachelor’s in psychology and a teaching licensure.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Cason said of her career choice.
She taught pre-kindergarten for a year at Wilson Elementary School in Fishersville before teaching fifth grade for five years at the now-closed Ladd Elementary School in Waynesboro.
After Ladd Elementary, which was part of the Augusta County Public School system, closed in 2013, Cason began the 2014-2015 academic year at Stuarts Draft Elementary teaching first graders.
This past academic year was her second as a fourth-grade teacher at Draft.
Education runs deep in Cason’s family.
Cason’s mother was a reading aide at Riverheads High School and is now a substitute teacher at Stuarts Draft Elementary, and her younger sister is the SPED teacher at Stuarts Draft Elementary.
“It’s actually really neat. We spend a lot of time together anyway,” Cason said of working with her sister.