Twenty-five high school seniors selected as West Virginia’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Twenty-five high school seniors who graduated this year have been selected as West Virginia’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. These students will receive the state’s newest and most prestigious scholarship of up to $10,000 per year – or $40,000 total – for their college education as they prepare to pursue rewarding careers as West Virginia teachers.

“I’m incredibly proud of these young scholars, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next four years and beyond,” said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System. “When we worked with the Legislature and Governor Justice last year to revamp this program, we knew we wanted to create a preeminent scholarship that would produce new generations of strong, committed teachers for years to come in the Mountain State. This cohort is just the beginning, and it’s certainly a bright one.”  

“I am pleased to congratulate the inaugural class of Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. Their interest in and commitment to education is commendable, and I know this scholarship is paving the way to build capacity among our teacher ranks,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “The challenges we face in filling content areas such as math, science and special education are very real. Programs such as this will assist us to meet the demand with a highly qualified corps of new teachers.”

This program – the first in the state to be open to a national applicant pool – is designed to help West Virginia address ongoing teacher shortages in the fields of math, science, special education and elementary education. Recipients commit to teaching in one of these high-demand fields in West Virginia for at least five years after graduation. To give students the greatest chance at success, each is paired with a practicing classroom teacher mentor, who will provide guidance throughout their college careers.

A video highlighting the scholars can be found on YouTube, and their photos are available at underwoodsmith.org/2020-scholars/. The 2020 Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars beginning their studies in West Virginia this fall are:

  • Maggie Bailey from Wirt County High School is attending West Virginia University at Parkersburg to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Emily Barr from Nicholas County High School is attending Glenville State College to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Kailee Beckman from North Marion High School is attending Fairmont State University to pursue a degree in special education.
  • Olivia Burns from Hurricane High School is attending Marshall University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Wiley Byers from Greenbrier East High School is attending Fairmont State University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Payton Campbell from Lewis County High School is attending West Virginia Wesleyan College to pursue a degree in special education.
  • Kyler Carper from Wirt County High School is attending Fairmont State University to pursue a degree in science.
  • Brooke Choiniere from Spring Mills High School is attending Fairmont State University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Ashley Davis from Ritchie County High School is attending West Virginia University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Samuel Dudgeon from Mount View High School is attending Ohio Valley University to pursue a degree in math.
  • BreighAnne Glover from Hedgesville High School is attending Shepherd University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Chase Haines from Spring Mills High School is attending West Virginia University to pursue a degree in science.
  • Emma Haley from St. Clairsville High School in Ohio is attending West Liberty University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Josie Hill from Point Pleasant High School is attending Glenville State College to pursue a degree in math.
  • Somer Kerr from Philip Barbour High School is attending West Virginia University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Stori Ketterman from Petersburg High School is attending Shepherd University to pursue a degree in science.
  • Faith Lovejoy from Buffalo Putnam High School is attending West Virginia State University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Jacob Massey from Sherman High School is attending West Virginia State University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Emily McElwain from Greenbrier East High School is attending Concord University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Sophia Miller from Parkersburg South High School is attending West Virginia University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Megan Noss from Preston High School is attending West Virginia Wesleyan College to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Caroline Smith from Nicholas County High School is attending Concord University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Mallori Straub from Morgantown High School is attending West Virginia University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
  • Isabella Vint from Scott High School is attending Marshall University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Kensley White from Van Junior Senior High School is attending West Virginia State University to pursue a degree in elementary education.

A virtual celebration of the scholars will be held on Wednesday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m. on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/HEPCMediaCenter/.

For rising high school seniors who want to become a teacher in West Virginia, applications open on July 15, 2020 for the 2021 cohort. Visit underwoodsmith.org for more information. The Underwood-Smith award is stackable with other forms of financial aid. West Virginia residents who receive the PROMISE Scholarship as well ($4,750 per year) receive nearly $15,000 per year to help pay for college.