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Blacksburg Regional Teacher of Year said to be pioneer for women in career and technical education

Candace Nichole Carrier, a career and technical education – agricultural education teacher at Montgomery County Public Schools’ Blacksburg High School, has been named the 2025 Virginia Regional Teacher of the Year (Region 6) by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Carrier has been a teacher and a mentor for 20 years.

“Mrs. Carrier provides hands-on opportunities for students to learn about exciting futures in agriculture and welding,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons. “She has helped countless students discover a love for trade and technical work and illuminates for many students the post-secondary educational paths that are available. I am delighted to recognize her with this award and celebrate all her hard work and accomplishments.”

“Mrs. Carrier epitomizes the characteristics of the ideal teacher that we all want for our children,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen Jr. “Her passion and enthusiasm for teaching and children is reflective in the performance of her students. We are grateful to have her as a member of our faculty. “

As a senior in high school, Carrier’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) Advisor encouraged her to apply to the agricultural education program at Virginia Tech. His exact words were, “you would make an excellent educator.” All it took was for one person to believe in her to convince her that she could be a teacher.

A pioneer for women in career and technical education, Carrier was recently hired as the first female adjunct welding instructor at New River Community College. She started the dual-enrolled welding program at Blacksburg High School and previously served as the first female agricultural teacher at Broadway High School in Rockingham County. A firm believer in leadership by example, Carrier hopes to empower her students by serving as an example of an underrepresented person excelling in the agricultural mechanics and welding industries.

Fostering relationships and creating classroom communities is fundamental to Carrier’s teaching approach.  She believes that building a positive relationship with students can be directly linked to their success in the classroom, and that when students feel heard and supported, a learning environment where they become less fearful, more eager to engage in discussions, think critically, and are inclined to take risks that ultimately lead to deeper learning, is created.

Carrier is the co-creator and leader of Agriculture Community Day, a free, community-wide event that attracts approximately 250 families every year. She invites local agricultural producers, student organizations from Virginia Tech, and families from Montgomery County. Through their fundraising efforts, they provide several activities that allow participants hands-on opportunities to experience agricultural concepts, like using a microscope to look at bees and honeycomb, germinating seeds, exploring small engine parts, and more.

Carrier was recognized as the 2024 Montgomery County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, as well as the 2023 Teacher of the Year for Blacksburg High School. Her students have also recently received accolades, winning the best “LOVE” sign for the Virginia LOVEworks program for the sign they designed and built at Harmony Harvest Farm in Weyers Cave, Virginia. At the suggestion of her students, her classroom community was named “Carrier’s Crew.”

Carrier is a member of the Montgomery County Educational Association and the Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators. She currently serves as the Student Assistance Program Lead. Carrier received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Virginia Tech.

The announcement of Carrier’s nomination coincided with a surprise visit from Superintendent Coons. Carrier and the seven other regional Teachers of the Year will join a Teacher Advisory Council, helping elevate the voices and perspectives of all Virginia teachers on VDOE’s work.

All eight Regional Teachers of the Year are nominees for the 2025 Mary V. Bicouvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year Award. The final Virginia Teacher of the Year Award will be announced later this spring.

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