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An Excellent Educator

Fulks Run’s Grim Named Region’s Teacher Of The Year


Daily News-Record FULKS RUN — In Chris Grim’s fi rstgrade classroom when a student does something kind, or accomplishes something important, they get to ring the celebration bell. The celebration bell may just look like a horseshoe attached to a string, but when it is struck with a metal rod, it rings out and elicits many cheers.

On Thursday, it wasn’t one of Grim’s students who got to ring the bell — it was Grim herself.

During an assembly attended by the entire school, which includes approximately 168 students, as well as a dozen of Grim’s friends and family members, it was announced that she was chosen by the Virginia Department of Education as the Region 5 teacher of the year.

There are 13 counties and seven cities in Region 5, encompassing hundreds of schools and even more teachers.

Grim has been teaching fi rst- grade math and language arts at Fulks Run Elementary School for 28 years, this being her 29th year at the small, community school. Grim, who did her student teaching at Fulks Run, knew she had found someplace special.

“ This is a community school where everyone knows everyone,” she said. “ There is a lot of caring for each other when there is need in the community.”

Four days before the start of school 29 years ago, Grim was hired to teach first grade at Fulks Run and she’s never


Fulks Run Elementary School first-grade teacher Chris Grim celebrates with students after being named the Virginia Department of Education Region 5 teacher of the year during an assembly at the school Thursday afternoon.

Daniel Lin / DN-R

‘I Feel Like God Called Me To Teach Here’

Educator FROM PAGE A1

looked back.

“I feel like God called me to teach here,” she said.

Although Grim was named Rockingham County Public Schools’ Lucy F. Simms Educator of the Year in May, the Region 5 teacher of the year award came as a surprise. Principal Alisa Sims told as few people as possible to keep the secret under wraps, while also making sure the people closest to Grim were able to be there.

RCPS Superintendent Oskar Scheikl received a call from James Lane, Virginia’s superintendent for public instruction, a few weeks ago. At Thursday’s assembly, Scheikl told the audience that Lane advised him to “ keep Sept. 6 open” and to “ invite some people.”

To keep the students and faculty, and especially Grim, in suspense, her family and friends were sequestered in the cafeteria while the rest of the school filed into the auditorium Thursday afternoon.

In fact, after Grim’s loved ones were seated in the back at the start of the assembly, she said she didn’t even think to look back and didn’t see they were there until she took the stage.

Present to give the award was Cynthia Cave, the assistant superintendent of policy and communications for the Virginia Department of Education.

“This program is an opportunity to go out and find the most caring people that deal with students,” Cave said.

It wasn’t until Cave mentioned Region 5 that Grim started to think that maybe they were all there for her. Until that point, her best guess for the hoopla was due to schoolwide recognition for Standards of Learning test scores.

When Cave announced that Grim was indeed chosen as the region’s teacher of the year, an emotional Grim took the stage, holding hands with Scheikl while Cave read a letter from Gov. Ralph Northam, as well as congratulations from Lane.

Three of Grim’s students then presented her with the celebration bell, which she gleeful rang to the cheers of the crowd.

“ My mom is here and she never comes to my school,” Grim said to the audience. And to her students she said, “ We’re family. And I am so lucky to get to work in the best school in all of Rockingham County.”

Grim’s mother, Shirley Grim, said she found out about the award a week ago and that it was “really hard to keep a secret.”

“I’m really excited for her,” Shirley Grim said. “She’s not only a great teacher but a wonderful person.”

The assembly ended the way many things come to an end in Grim’s class — with a group dance.

Students and adults alike flooded the stage as the auditorium was filled with the sounds of “ Celebration” by Kool and The Gang.

“I’m overwhelmed. It’s really just such an honor,” she said. “I work with an incredible bunch of people.”

Next week, the panel that chose the region winners will interview each of the eight teachers to select the 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year. The decision will be announced on September 14 during a ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272, @DNR_Learn or

Fulks Run Elementary School first-grade teacher Chris Grim is greeted by her mother, Shirley Grim, of Stevens City, after being named the Virginia Department of Education Region 5 teacher of the year during an assembly at the school Thursday afternoon.

Daniel Lin / DN-R

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