Craig Divis, a history teacher and tennis coach at Bellows Falls Union High School, was recently honored as "Vermont Teacher of the Year" by the State Board of Education.
Divis was presented the award at Bellows Falls Union High School by Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca, after their monthly board meeting.
"I first heard that I had been awarded Teacher of the Year in late August before school started," Divis said in a recent interview.
"Tina Muncy, the award coordinator from the Vermont Department of Education, came to each of the finalists schools to let them know about their decision, and it was at that time that she told me that I had been selected as the Teacher of the Year, the difficult part was having to keep it a secret until yesterday when it was announced to the public."
The Teacher of the Year is chosen through a specific nomination, application and selection process.
Through these national guidelines, Vermont chooses a candidate who is "dedicated, highly skilled, and proven capable of teaching and inspiring students of all backgrounds."
Divis was nominated by BFUHS principal Christopher Hodsden, a process which also included the Board of Education conducting several interviews with Divis, along with visits to his classroom to get a first-hand look at his teaching abilities and interactions with his students.
"I was interviewed in Montpelier by about a dozen people which included past Teachers of the Year, superintendents, principals and members of the State Board of Education," Divis said.
"It was very stressful, but I felt very comfortable talking about the students at my school and the quality education that I feel BFUHS offers.
"Then, a few months later after being told that I was a finalist, a panel of past Teachers of the Year and Tina Muncy, also observed me in the classroom."
At the ceremony last week, Divis thanked his students "who inspire him everyday, and are the reason I work so hard and put so much time and effort into my class every single day."
He also thanked his parents, who traveled from Ohio to be with him.
"My parents have had the strongest impact on me becoming a teacher," Divis added. "My mother was a teacher for 30 years and what really inspired me was her former students still coming up to her in public years later and thanking her for helping them becoming the people they were today.
"Those moments moved me and I knew then what the power of education could be. I was also inspired by my college professor and advisor at Miami University, Dr. Michael Fuller. He helped mold me into the teacher that I am today."
Divis will continue to teach full time during this year, and also coach the girls' varsity tennis team as well as the school's Scholars' Bowl team.
He will also make himself available for speaking engagements and content consultations in his area of expertise when possible.
"BFUHS is a great school, with amazing students and dedicated teachers. I love the positive energy and devotion of the staff that makes you want to come to school every day and do your best to reach each and every student," Divis concluded.
"The students are so talented. I have had many classes where my students have pushed me to challenge them and to come up with new and exciting lessons to inspire them, and their motivation to learn has been influential in my teaching ability.
"Also, the support of my principal, Mr. Hodsden, and superintendent, Mrs. Harpster, has been endless."
Suzanne Groenewold also contributed information to this article.