DOBSON — School administrators surprised two educators with annual awards which recognize their commitment to education.
Mason Midkiff was named the Surry County Schools teacher of the year for the 2016-2017 school year Tuesday morning, and Kevin Via is the principal of the year.
Midkiff is a science teacher at Surry Central High School, where he also is an assistant coach for basketball and tennis. Students, faculty and staff lined the hallways at Central as the announcement was made and cheered on the fourth-year teacher.
Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves told those assembled at the school Midkiff had been torn between a career in education or one as a veterinarian in his college years.
“He wanted to give back, so he chose to teach,” explained Reeves. “We appreciate him staying in his community and making a difference.”
Midkiff is originally from Surry County, where he grew up on a farm, said school board member Dr. Terri Mosely, who has known Midkiff since he was a child.
Midkiff earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree from Clemson University.
Along with the well-deserved recognition, Chad Tidd, who owns and operates the Mount Airy Chick-Fil-A, presented Midkiff with a $200 gift card to his restaurant.
Midkiff’s predecessor as teacher of the year, Laura Whitaker, said a lot of what teachers do on a daily basis goes unseen.
“Our teachers go above and beyond every day,” said Whitaker.
Midkiff was humble in an interview after he learned of the honor, saying the district is filled with good teachers who do just what Whitaker had stated on a normal basis.
“I think there are far better teachers in this district,” said Midkiff. “It’s certainly an honor to represent Surry Central and Surry County Schools.”
The student-athletes Midkiff coaches had a treat of their own for their coach. Emptying a water cooler over the head of the unsuspecting teacher following the ceremony.
Principal of the year
Those delivering the news of who had been named teacher and principal of the year didn’t have to travel far for their next stop.
At the Surry Early College, located on the campus of Surry Community College, administrators and an auditorium packed with students surprised principal Kevin Via.
In presenting Via with his award, Reeves noted the challenges an administrator faces when leading a school such as the early college, which fulfills high school requirements while also allowing students to earn an associate’s degree or other certifications at the college.
“Of course, we have our policies, but Mr. Via has two sets of policies which govern both entities involved here,” noted Reeves.
Reeves said it takes a special person to ensure education is “seamless” for students juggling the demands of the high school and those of college courses at the same time.
“He has put his heart and soul into making the Early College a success,” remarked Reeves.
Mosely, who helped draft an application to start the Early College about a decade ago, said she’s impressed with what the school has become.
“His (Via’s) leadership and the work of our students and teachers has made this a great place to learn,” said Mosely.
Via agreed with the school board member’s remarks.
“This is the best school in North Carolina, and I’m honored to be here,” said Via.
As he pointed to teachers lining the auditorium he told students, “I’m not here without all of them and all of you.”
“I love this school.”
Via started his teaching career at Hudson Middle School in Hudson in 1998. He moved to Central Middle School the next year and spent three years teaching there. He served as assistant principal at North Surry High School and principal at Surry Central before taking the post at the Early College in 2013.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in adolescent education from Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1993, and a master’s degree from Appalachian State University in 2004.
Tidd also presented Via with a gift card. However, since Tidd was on the committee which chose the principal of the year, he had a special treat for those at the Early College. All students, faculty and staff will get a free milkshake from Chick-Fil-A.
Via called the honor of being picked as the principal of the year “an unbelievable feeling.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.