"We're very proud of Tootie -- she's a top-notch teacher," said Putnam County Schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield. "Tootie's expertise is science -- she's always been very involved in the areas of math and science, and very creative. She thinks outside of the box, and we encourage that. We're not surprised that she was able to do great things in the area of science, and we've always supported her."
Hatfield said Black's success is something the county strives for, which is why Putnam County has the highest-paid teachers of any county in the state. Its educators are also the most educated -- more than 60 percent of the county's teachers hold a master's degree or doctoral degree.
"We work very hard at recruiting and retaining. We support our teachers in any way we can, through training and support," Hatfield said. "We really consider them to be the experts, so we listen to them. They're very valued, and I think they recognize that. Our board has always been very supportive in paying teachers, as well, because we feel that if we're going to be the best system in the state and have the best employees, we need to reward them."
Black has received another reward for her hard work -- $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to recognize her success. According to her, she already has a plan to pay it forward.
"I'm going to help my son," she said. "He's at Marshall [University] right now getting his master's in education -- he's going to teach middle and high school history."
Each year, the awards alternate between K-6 teachers and teachers in grades 7-12. After a selection process at the state level, a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators choose the winners.
Black is one of two West Virginia educators to receive the award. The other, Gabrielle Rhodes, is a teacher at Union Elementary School in Buckhannon.
Nominations for the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are open through April 1. For information, visit www.paemst.org.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.