When Mindy McCabe learned she had been selected as Culpeper County High School’s Teacher of the Year, she was shocked.
This year at CCHS instead of administration picking the teacher of the year, faculty and staff nominated teachers and then they all voted on the nominees.
“Being nominated and having co-workers be the reason I won [made] it even more special,” McCabe said.
McCabe, a special education teacher at Culpeper County High School, teaches reading strategies and other courses, such as English, geometry and government. She has just completed her 8th year teaching at CCHS.
In a recent interview, McCabe shared her favorite memory from her teaching career.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCabe was asked to teach an Honors 11 English class mid-semester. Despite the hybrid schedule at the school with students attending both in-person and virtually, her class earned a 100 percent Standards of Learning test pass rate.
A rare accomplishment for any teacher, the achievement is noteworthy particularly during a global pandemic where many of the students in the class were also a 100% remote cohort.
“The best part of teaching is getting to know the students for who they are,” McCabe said in a recent interview. “My teaching philosophy is that if you create a classroom built on respect for one another you will have more success with student learning.”
In McCabe’s role as a coach for the CCHS varsity volleyball team, her devotion to helping students succeed extends outside the classroom.
Kylie Wensel, a former CCHS Varsity Volleyball player and a 2021 graduate, said McCabe was an uplifting influence on the court.
“She always found the positive in a situation,” Wensel said. “She was determined to help us not only grow as athletes, but as people.”
McCabe’s co-workers also recognize her qualities as a teacher.
“There are many traits I admire about Mindy McCabe,” said Michelle Marshall, a special education teacher at CCHS.
“I most admire her willingness to help all students,” Marshall added, saying that McCabe looks for students’ strengths and helps them recognize those strengths to assist them in their educational career.
Also, Marshall said, McCabe is good at teaching students to advocate for themselves, giving them a life skill that will last long after their high school years.
“Ms. McCabe is a successful teacher because she genuinely cares about all students at Culpeper County High School,” Marshall said. “She develops teacher-student relationships that educational research has proven make a difference in the lives of students.”
She explained that McCabe guides students struggling in classes, modeling determination and resourcefulness and showing genuine interest in her students' lives.
“Ms. McCabe is everything a great teacher should be and a perfect role model for teachers to aspire to be,” Marshall said.
McCabe grew up about 30 miles from Pittsburgh in Greensburg, Pa., which has a population of about 14,000 people. She attended Hampfield Area High School. She went on to pursue both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
She was interviewed and hired straight out of college through the Pittsburgh Education Recruitment Consortium, interviewing first with a representative of Culpeper County Public Schools, who invited her to visit the county and interview with Culpeper High’s principal.
“Once I signed on and moved to Culpeper I was in love with the views and friendly people I met,” said McCabe. “I love the small-town feel of the community I now call home.”
Jeff Nicol, a 2021 graduate of Culpeper County High School who plans to attend Southern Utah University in the fall, is a summer intern with the Star-Exponent.