By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
Gayle Manchin, president of the West Virginia State Board of Education, likes to quote Eleanor Roosevelt.
“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die, and the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility,” she said, quoting the former first lady at an awards ceremony for Academy Programs LLC on Tuesday, during which Teresa Sestito was named Teacher/Counselor of the Year.
Sestito is coming up on two years with the company, which owns and runs Youth Academy in Fairmont.
The academy works with troubled children exhibiting behavioral issues preventing them from functioning in academic and home environments. A teacher/counselor helps the students learn through those issues and succeed despite the obstacles in their path.
These relationships are what make the difference in students’ lives, Manchin said.
“That ability to relate to and integrate with students on a level that has nothing to do with curriculum or content area — you can’t really qualify that. You can’t measure it, but you can see the results,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s probably a one of us in the room that can’t think back on an adult or teacher, someone who came into our lives that had a great influence.”