Clayton Intermediate educator's career choice was inspired by her children's teachers

Clayton Intermediate School’s Virginia Hoye earned her bachelor’s degree in business management, but was inspired to go back to college to become a teacher after volunteering at her children’s school.

Now as a fifth grade teacher, Hoye is inspiring students herself and has been selected as the Smyrna School District Teacher of the Year.

The award was announced at the Smyrna Board of Education meeting May 9. Hoye said when she heard her name called, she was shocked and excited.

“After I let it sink in that I was selected as Teacher of the Year for the entire district, I felt very honored to represent such a fantastic group of educators,” she said. “I love this profession, and believe that teachers play such an important role in children's lives. I pray that I am worthy of this distinction, and I will do my best to represent the exceptional educators of the Smyrna School District.”

Clayton Intermediate Principal David Paltrineri said Hoye is a great teacher because she is compassionate, unselfish and passionate about students and their success.

“Mrs. Hoye has a unique style of combining strong content knowledge and extraordinary instructional strategies with a dramatic flair,” said Paltrineri. “Her classes are captivating and fun but at the same time challenging and pushing the students to achieve beyond what they thought was possible. CIS has a motto: ‘Students don't really care what you know, they want to know that you care!’ All of Mrs. Hoye’s students know she cares and that knowledge motivates them to work hard every day.”

Fifth grade student Olivia Rassoli said Hoye “is not an ordinary teacher. She has a light inside of her. She’s like a flower ready to blossom.”

Rassoli said Hoye is “cool” and “sticks up for our views.”

“She’s not just a teacher. She’s more like family to me,” Rassoli said.

Hoye took the time to answer questions for this Sun-Times interview.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

This is a very difficult question to answer. First and foremost, I love my students. I enjoy meeting a new group of kids each August, and watching them grow and mature throughout the year. I also enjoy the challenge that teaching provides. Each child is different, so you need to dig deep at times to discover the best approach for that individual learner. Additionally, I love the family at CIS. I am so fortunate to work with such a talented, fun, and generous team of people.

What's the biggest challenge?

For me, the biggest challenge is time. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish what I feel that I need to do. I admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist, which makes it even worse! People who have never worked in education have no idea how much time a good teacher spends on their students. From obvious tasks such as lesson planning and professional development, to tasks you might not think of, such as buying snacks for kids who need them, or trying to figure out a new seating arrangement for your students. The list is endless, but your time is limited.

What's something you've developed or discovered and then implemented in your classroom that could help other teachers?

I have discovered many things over the years, but one thing I believe strongly is that you have to care about your students. As a wise man I know always says, "Kids don't care how much you know, they know how much you care." If you are a new teacher, take the time to talk to your students to get to know them. Let them know that you are interested in them as individuals, and that they are NOT just a test score to you. When your students believe that you are there for THEM, they will work hard to make you proud.

Who or what inspired you to become a teacher?

I did not know that I wanted to teach until I started volunteering at my children's school, Smyrna Elementary. My daughter's first grade teacher, Mrs. Romero, amazed me. I had no idea what an exceptional teacher was until I witnessed what she could do with a group of energetic first graders. Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to work alongside incredible teachers at Smyrna Elementary, Clayton Elementary, JBM, and now at CIS. Their passion and compassion is what continues to inspire me to try to be the best teacher I can be.

MORE ABOUT VIRGINIA HOYE

• Grew up in a small town in southern Maryland called Piney Point.

• Graduated from St. Mary's Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Maryland.

• Received her undergraduate degree in business management from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

• Earned her master’s degree in elementary education at Wilmington University.

• Started working in the Smyrna School District as a paraprofessional at the Kindergarten Center. After one year there, she transferred to Clayton Elementary where she worked for four years until earning her master’s degree. She taught fifth grade at John Bassett Moore Intermediate School for seven years, and has taught fifth grade at Clayton Intermediate School for five years.

• Now lives in Smyrna, where her family moved in 1999.

“I have been happily married for 30 years to my wonderful husband, Shawn Hoye. We have two adult children, Patrick and Sarah, who both graduated from Smyrna High School. I am indebted to all of their teachers and this district for providing them with an excellent education.” – Virginia Hoye