Mercer County Schools announces the Teacher of the Year


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A teacher at Athens Elementary School had a big surprise this week during an annual banquet at the Chuck Mathena Center when she was told that she was now Mercer County's 2024-2025 Teacher of the Year.

Teachers and administrators across Mercer County met Tuesday evening for a banquet celebrating the nominees for Teacher of the Year from each school. Each school's nominee was asked by Angela Wilson, last year's Mercer County Teacher of the Year, to come forward to receive their plaques, be congratulated by President Greg Prudich, Vice President Jacinda Santon-Smith, and members Jim Bailey, Paul Hodges and Mark Godfrey before having their picture taken with Superintendent Edward Toman.

Toman then went to the podium and announced the Mercer County Teacher of the Year winner who will represent the county in the West Virginia Teacher of the Year competition.

The 2024-2025 Mercer County Teacher of the Year is Kimberly Yahya, a fourth grade teacher at Athens Elementary.

"Mrs. Yahya is a constant burst of positivity within our school. She is always willing to share a smile and a story about something that brightens the day down the fourth-grade hallway," said Athens School Principal Shelley Weiss.

"She ensures her students are always engaged and learning, and every time anyone enters her room, they can immediately tell that teaching is her passion," Weiss told the audience. "She sings, she dances, and she has even been known to do a cartwheel. Our fourth grade has recently departmentalized, therefore, after many years of teaching all subjects, she now primarily teaches math to all fourth graders. She has poured all her energy into becoming an exemplary math teacher. This year, Mrs. Yahya has been an active trainer for Mercer County's Mathematical Mindsets and a member of the state's Unite with Numeracy Team."

Students in Yahya's classes come away remembering her.

"Every year, she builds strong bonds with her students that last a lifetime," Weiss said. "For example, this relationship is evident by the fact that every year she cries during our graduation walk with seniors because those are 'her kids,' and she is always the first teacher they want to see."

After being named the Mercer County Teacher of the Year, Yahya thanked the teachers she said had made her who she is today and acknowledged her colleagues and principal at Athens School. She later said that she did not know that she would receive that honor.

"No, no, no. Complete shock," she replied when asked if she had expected to be the county's teacher of the year. "I was completely shocked. I had no idea. There were a lot of really amazing and talented teachers who were nominated, so I did not expect to win."

Yahya said she started working with children while attending high school and college.

"I babysat and I was around kids, so I decided that I wanted to hang out with kids so I could make a difference in their lives," she said. "Well, the best part for me is the laughter and the fun and, of course, maybe assisting them in reaching their goals."

Candidates for West Virginia Teacher of the Year must submit their applications to the state by May 15.

The West Virginia Department of Education will conduct interviews with the nominees, and the name of the new West Virginia Teacher of the Year will be announced in September.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at