Valley Academy in spotlight with Waynesboro’s Teacher of the Year 2021
By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — Beth Teachey teaches English at Valley Academy.
She began at the academy when it opened two years ago.
Teachey is Waynesboro’s Teacher of the Year for 2021.
She said she was stunned when she learned she was chosen.
“I’m really thrilled,” said Teachey. “I think what has pleased me the most is it’s letting me spread the gospel about Valley Academy.”
Teachey said she was not expecting the honor, and she is amazed by all of this year’s Teacher of the Year nominees.
Teachey and her husband, Tim Teachey, Waynesboro School’s Executive Director of Instruction, have been married for more than 35 years.
She grew up in Burlington, N.C.
Tim Teachey grew up in the River City and previously served as principal of Waynesboro High School.
Beth Teachey earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Mary Baldwin College, but the two did not meet until they both attended Elon University in North Carolina. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
The couple married in the church at Elon.
Beth Teachey said that her original plan with both degrees was to pursue a career in counseling and enter a doctorate program, but her husband received a job offer in Richmond, so the couple returned to Virginia, where she continued enjoying a career with Progressive, a then little-known insurance company.
“What I found what I loved about [Progressive] was the education,” Teachey said.
She enjoyed training new employees.
The couple eventually evaluated what they each really wanted to do in their careers. He wanted to be a Science teacher and coach basketball.
Tim Teachey was offered a position teaching in Waynesboro Schools when she was expecting their first child.
“I loved this area,” Beth Teachey said of the Valley when she attended MBU.
They returned to the Valley, and Beth continued working for Progressive.
“I really wanted to take some time off and get back to what I wanted to do,” she said.
After the birth of their first child, she taught at First Baptist Preschool, and then became director of Bethany Lutheran School.
Soon she was substitute teaching at Waynesboro High and Kate Collins Middle schools.
Eighteen years ago, she was asked to teach English for Waynesboro Schools.
She became an 8th-grade English teacher at Kate Collins Middle, and “really just loved it.”
She said she “fell in love with the kids.”
At the same time, she earned a master’s degree and certification, as well as a master’s of education from Eastern Mennonite University.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some great [education] programs in reading,” Teachey said.
Two years ago, she could have transferred to Waynesboro High School to teach English, after her husband became Executive Director of Instruction, but Valley Academy was about to open its doors.
“We are really trying to be as close to a traditional [high] school in a small environment,” she said.
The Teacheys have one son, one daughter, one granddaughter and one grandson, and they live in the Valley.
“Probably the best awards are when you get sweet notes from your grandchildren,” Beth Teachey said.
She is proud of research projects she has participated in, and a presentation she was part of at the International Literacy Association several years ago while a teacher at Kate Collins Middle.
At Valley Academy, students are taught academically, but also work on social and personal development.
When students graduate, they have earned a diploma from their high school. This year, a Valley Academy student walked across the stage at Waynesboro High graduation.
Teachey said students succeed at Valley Academy “when you get them in a place where they can be supported and trusted.”
Sometimes, a student may act up in the classroom, perhaps to self-sabotage and get kicked out of class. Instead, at Valley Academy, teachers chat with students about their behavior and encourage them to return to class or maybe wait out the day and return the next day.
“We welcome them back repeatedly,” she said.
However, some students are assigned in school suspension for their behavior.
At Valley Academy, every day is a new day.
“We’re going to keep encouraging you to stay here and get caught up in what you need [to graduate high school],” Teachey said.
Obtaining a position at Valley Academy “was like coming home” to a family for Teachey.
“We’re small, but mighty,” Teachey said.