by Geoff Fox
Hancock High School graduate Stephen Starliper was recently named Teacher of the Year in Summers County, West Virginia.
Starliper, who teaches physical education at Hinton Area Elementary, has been teaching for a total of six years, with four and a half at Hinton Area Elementary.
He said he got interested in becoming an educator thanks to his elementary physical education teacher and high school coach, Jeff Spielman. The two shared a passion for sports, Starliper said.
As a senior in high school, Starliper said go over to the elementary school and assist Spielman during his classes.
“I believed that one day I could make a difference like coach did in his community,” he said. “Coach Spielman was a class act and I inspired to be just like him one day. I miss him everyday.”
After graduating from Hancock, Starliper attended Hagerstown Community College for two years before transferring Concord University in Mercer County, which is in southern West Virginia.
While at Concord, Starliper was recruited by coach Mike Cox to run Cross Country for the Mountain Lions.
Starliper said it was easier to find a job near the university in neighboring Summers County.
In his teaching physical education, Starliper said the reward that comes from being a teacher is “seeing the students improve in not only the skills that I teach for physical education, but life skills as well.”
“My job is to teach students lifelong physical activities that one can do for their entire life,” he said. “This is an effort to help lead students to live a healthy lifestyle.”
And helping those students earned Starliper Summers County Teacher of the Year award.
“It is a great honor to be named teacher of the year,” he said.
Starliper said physical education does not have a great reputation in education as the subject is more than just rolling a ball out and letting students play.
“I am glad my teaching peers have recognized the benefits of having physical education in public schools,” he said.
Starliper added he was very thankful for all his teaching peers and administration for having him represent the county for the award.
He said his parents, teachers, and coaches helped to make him into the person he is today.
“I hope one day to receive an opportunity to work at Washington County Public Schools,” he said.