back to top

Webster’s Passion and Compassion Leads to Award Nomination

Carol Webster

by Aaron Layman

Whether instructing students in the intricacies of musical theatre or promoting service in her community, Roanoke County educator Carol Webster has influenced students for over 23 years. In September, her efforts were recognized by being named Region IV Regional Teacher of the Year (a first for Roanoke County) and a finalist, along with eight others, for Virginia Teacher of the Year. This, the state’s highest teaching award, will be announced on Oct. 14.

Born into a family of educators, she originally didn’t follow her parents’ lead. After majoring in business at Roanoke College, Webster worked as an accountant for the Department of Mental Health in Catawba and managed a Mitchell’s clothing store.

Moving up through the ranks at National Business College from admissions rep to being one of the youngest deans of academics and financial aid set the stage for her to come back to the “family business.” As she sat in on an accounting class, Webster observed the interchange of ideas amongst the students – and had the epiphany that she wanted to move in to the classroom as a teacher.

Webster returned to Roanoke College to take teacher certification in English and theater arts. After student teaching in Glenvar and working for a couple years in Franklin County, she came to work at William Byrd High School in 1991. Over the past twenty years, Webster has built the theater program into one of the largest in the county, with the company putting on 3-4 shows a year. She often finds herself doing double-cast productions because of so many students audition.

At William Byrd this past Monday, Webster was hard at work getting students ready for their production of “The Wizard of Oz.” She instructed them on how thickly to sponge-paint a set-piece as others came up to get her approval on their scarecrow costumes and “Cowardly Lion” makeup. Sound and setup was discussed with Rodney Painter, a “sound guru” volunteer who doubles as a worship pastor at Webster’s church.

Webster credits both of her parents with influencing her teaching approach. Her father, retired history teacher/principal and “Point North” creator Fred Eichelman, encouraged his students to follow their passions, regardless of what they may have been urged to be at home. It is this impetus for finding the passion in students and fostering that passion that Webster says she tries to carry on.

Her mother Carolyn, who worked first at TAP/Head Start and then for Roanoke County, taught Webster the value of compassion. She recalls how her mother often invited students from unstable family backgrounds who resided at Baptist and Lutheran Homes back to the Eichelman home for the weekend, so that they could get exposure to a welcoming, nurturing environment. “My mom didn’t look at them based on economics or IQ,’ said Webster,’ she looked at them as they were a gift.”

This inclination towards compassion has led to her involvement in service learning. Between 2002 and 2009, she created the Service Learning Academy at Byrd and served as coordinator so that students could learn how to invest back in to the community with projects like improving the Wolf Creek Greenway. During her tenure, the number of students involved grew from 16 to 80. While she may have moved on from this position, Webster still integrates service into her theater and English classes.

After 20 years in Roanoke County schools, Webster still remains in awe at the collaborative nature of her work: “I’ve been blessed to be in such an incredible school system. It’s an honor to be a teacher, it’s a calling…it’s incredibly humbling.” Now Webster may earn the state’s highest honor for an educator, in recognition for what she has done with that calling.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles