By Don Lowe
Recently being named Anderson Middle School Teacher of the Year was made more special for Terri Casto, after having recovered from a serious health scare not all that long ago.
Casto’s world changed drastically a little more than a year ago. “On September 17, 2022, I was scheduled to be at my second job at Kohl’s at 10 a.m.,” Casto says. “I didn’t feel well that morning and had vomited, so I decided to rest a little longer.
“That’s when I had a hemorrhagic stroke/brain bleed. My daughter, Casey, realized about 10 p.m. that night something was wrong and called an ambulance. I’d been lying there more than 12 hours. I was transported to Freeman Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, then by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
“I was in the hospital three weeks. The only thing I remember is getting staples in my head where they’d put in a drain.
“I returned to class for a couple days in December, 2022. My principal, Troy Gray, was amazing and allowed my substitutes to be with me in case I was overwhelmed. I was away from class more than two months.”
Casto was grateful for the tremendous support of her McDonald County School District family, and she fondly recalls, “They held fundraisers for me, including a paid jeans day and hot chocolate sale. But the ball game collection blessed me the most.
“Several former students walked me to center court of a basketball game where they held a Mustang Minute. Students told stories of how I’d positively impacted their lives. I cried as they collected money in buckets for exactly one minute. They raised more than $1,000 to help me with bills.”
After all she’s battled through, this terrific teacher never expected recognition coming her way. “What an honor it was to be chosen Anderson Middle School Teacher of the Year. I had no idea I was in the running.
“I was shocked and blessed to hear my name announced by Principal Gray. Students cheered loudly. I could hear them yelling from rooms all around mine, encouraging and honoring me.
“I was taken aback and blessed even more so by the show of student support and approval. Knowing the students were proud of me and happy that I’d been chosen made me extremely happy and humbled. I’m proud to be part of a school family and district that upholds and honors people who work hard and care deeply.”
What matters most deeply to Casto is teaching and she says, “It’s my calling to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. I want them to see what is truly important in life.
“My favorite part of teaching math is seeing the ‘a-ha’ look of pride and achievement when I help a student be successful with a topic and make connections. Some of my favorite phrases are, ‘I get it now’ and ‘Now that makes sense.’”
Casto says what makes it all worthwhile is, “I’m always thrilled when a former student gives me a hug and says that I blessed them because they learned so much or how I was able to help and encourage them. Those are the wins in teaching.”
McDonald County Middle School Teacher of the Year Terri Casto Fast Facts
Number of Children: One daughter, Casey
Hometown: Fairmont, West Virginia
High School Alma Mater, Year Graduated: Lincoln High School in Shinnston, West Virginia, 1992
College Alma Mater and Year Graduated: West Virginia Wesleyan College, 1999; West Virginia University, 2001; Missouri State University, 2012
College Degree: Mathematics; Secondary Education; Educational Administration
Career: First year was at Anderson Junior High (2004-05), teaching 7th and 8th grade Math for nine years. After that, she taught various levels of algebra at McDonald County High School for two years. She moved back to the middle school to teach computer skills (keyboarding, editing and using computer skills for other subjects like math, English and science). About five years ago, she began teaching math again and currently has 7th & 8th graders again, including an algebra class.