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MRL Announces Student Winners of the 27th Annual Honored Teachers Essay Contest

Jennifer Runion selected as the 2024 Honored Teacher of the Year!

Massanutten Regional Library proudly announces that the following students have been selected as award winners for the 27th Annual Robert B. and Gladys Hopkins Strickler Honored Teachers Writing Contest. Students in grades K-12 were challenged to write an original essay  about a current or former teacher who has had an impact on their life. The contest was open to public, private, and homeschooled students who attend school in MRL’s service area of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County and Page County. The 2024 winners and their teachers are:

High School:

  • 1st place: Katherine Bauer | Rockingham Academy | Teacher: Jennifer Runion
  • Runner up: Juan Garcia | East Rockingham High School | Teacher: Terri Butler

Middle School:

  • 1st place: Eliza Hughes | Redeemer Classical School | Teacher: Jane Fowler   
  • Runner up: MaKayla Jones | Skyline Middle School | Teacher: Tyler Fulford

Grades 3-5

  • 1st place: Elisa Weaver | Keister Elementary | Teacher: Ashley Henry
  • Runner up: Clara Hendrickson | Redeemer Classical School | Teacher: Holly King

Grades K-2

  • 1st place: Marta Stutzman | Eastern Mennonite School | Teacher: Susan Stoltzfus
  • Runner up: Todd Ham | John Wayland Elementary | Teacher: Keely Hinkle

Judging was performed by the Harrisonburg Kiwanis on March 26, 2024. The Kiwanis worked intently as 125 essays were received. Essays which were not selected as runner-up or first place will be mailed to the teacher the student wrote about by the end of April. 

Winning essayists and their honored teachers were recognized at an awards celebration on Thursday, April 11 at 7PM at the Central Library in downtown Harrisonburg. Cash awards were given to the winning students and Jennifer Runion, formerly of Spotswood High School, was announced as the Honored Teacher of the Year. As the 27th Annual Honored Teacher of the Year, Ms. Runion received a cash award of $1,000 for her professional use. 

Since its founding in 1997, the Honored Teachers Essay Contest has received over 5,000 student entries—each heartfelt and each celebrating phenomenal local teachers who make incredible differences in the lives of areas students. The contest was made possible through the generosity of Robert H. “Twig” Strickler and his wife Lorraine, who set up a memorial endowment through to honor Twig’s parents, Robert B. and Gladys Hopkins Strickler, who were both inspiring teachers. To date, the contest has awarded a total of more than $25,000 to teachers to enhance their work, as well as thousands of dollars in prizes to student writers. Though Mr. Strickler passed away in 2019 at the age of 90, the program continues to honor his and Lorraine’s commitment to highlighting the importance of excellent teaching in the Valley.

Please join us in congratulating these talented student writers and the teachers who inspire them.

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