Veronica Napier: A Contagious Love for Learning

educatorIt’s 7:45 a.m. on a recent Tuesday and Veronica Napier is putting the finishing touches on the visual for the new math unit for her fifth-graders at Justice Elementary in Winchester.

When the dozen or so posters describing cubes, pyramids and cones for the lesson on the volume of solids are affixed to the wall, Napier is thrilled.

“Sure I was excited,” the 33-yearold veteran of 7 years in the classroom, said. “How could you not love that? The students know that I love them, and when I show them
that I love math, they will love math.”

No wonder colleagues describe Napier as enthusiastic and passionate. That’s the way it has been for Napier since she realized as a second-grader in Mrs. Walton’s classroom in Pike County that education was her calling.

The daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of coal miners in Eastern Kentucky, Napier was the first in her family to graduate college. She now holds a master’s degree in gifted education and is working on a second master’s in library science.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to teach,” she said. “This is what I was born to do.”

Her colleagues recognize her whole-hearted dedication.

“She sets such high expectations for the students,” Principal Angie Taylor said. “She focuses on every single student and is always thinking, ‘What can I do next?’”

Perhaps that explains her indefatigable work ethic. Napier puts in hours of preparation to make her lessons come alive.

“The first couple of years, I lived and breathed teaching and worked to all hours,” she said. “I still do. We can leave at 2:45 p.m. but rarely have I ever done that.”

She worked particularly long hours on two projects this school year, one of them for the winter holidays. Students staged a colonial Christmas. Napier wore a long dress and
bonnet, and every student knitted a holiday stocking with yarn, needles and felt.

What was the educational value of the project?

“They will remember it forever,” Napier said. “They will gain an education. That’s the goal of school, isn’t it?

Hard to argue with that.

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