Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Thursday presented Michael Funkhouser, the 2013 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, with $5,000 and a new Toyota vehicle.
"Our state teachers dedicate themselves to molding the minds of tomorrow," Tomblin said, according to a news release from his office. "I am so proud of our teacher of the year for his continued dedication to putting the needs of his students first. These gifts are only a small token of appreciation for what Michael gives to his students daily."
Tomblin was joined at Thursday's ceremony by the State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Phares, and representatives from Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.
Teacher of the Year Michael Funkhouser and wife, Ann, receive keys to a new Toyota Prius from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during a ceremony Thursday at the State Capitol.
Highmark BCBS West Virginia presented Funkhouser with a $5,000 check to spend as he wishes.
"Highmark is honored to again recognize our state's teacher of the year," said Fred Earley, president of Highmark West Virginia. "We know that Michael Funkhouser will serve as a role model for his students and peers throughout West Virginia, inspiring others by demonstrating how the highest standards of his profession can be achieved in the classroom."
Each year, Toyota donates a new car to the state teacher of the year, who can use the vehicle for a year as he or she travels the state.
"Through the West Virginia Teacher of the Year Award, Toyota West Virginia is honored to recognize teachers who show enthusiasm, dedication and go above and beyond job requirements to instill excellence into education," said Doug Shields, general manager administration of Toyota West Virginia. "As a West Virginia company, Toyota's long-term success depends on the availability of well trained, well-educated team members. This event allows us to recognize and say thank you to West Virginia's teachers who are preparing our future work force."
Funkhouser, who is in his 32nd year in the classroom, teaches English at East Hardy High School in Hardy County. He has a master's degree from Shenandoah University and undergraduate degrees from Marshall University and West Virginia University. He is a past vice president and current member of the West Virginia Education Association.
He was selected by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate finalists who were their county Teacher of the Year winners.
"Great teachers like Michael Funkhouser are the key to helping West Virginia children discover their own abilities and aspire to achieve more than they ever believed possible," Phares said. "I am honored to recognize him as the 2013 Teacher of the Year."
The teacher of the year is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country. West Virginia granted its first award in 1964. Funkhouser will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
For more information, anyone interested can contact the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.