Teacher Tim James wins the Distinguished West Virginian award


Andrea Thompson

Band director Tim James was very grateful for his award.

Jesten Richardson, Editor-in-Chief

It is seemingly rare for a student journalist to get the inside scoop on any story beside that which immediately pertains to the goings on within their own little bubble of school news, so when the unusual moment occurs when they just happen to be in the right place at the right time, the student tends to jump on the story with a fervor. This Friday evening, Dec. 16, was my moment of coincidence that turned into an interesting news story.
My band director, Tim James, was just about to start our annual Christmas concert, when Randall Reid-Smith, the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and a dear friend of the band, joined us on stage, bearing a gift for our surprised band director.
Reid-Smith gave a speech about his admiration for James, their shared history and James’s strong influence over his community, before presenting him with a rare award named the Distinguished West Virginian, which according to Reid-Smith is a highly prestigious award that is given only to distinguished native West Virginians, based on their degree of merit, what they have accomplished and achieved and what they do as a West Virginian.
According to Reid-Smith, the award is not given lightly, and it follows an extensive, selective process.
“It starts by nomination,” said Reid-Smith. “I nominated him to the committee at the governor’s office, who reviewed the application and approved this. The governor had the final say.”
Many factors contributed to James’s selection, including his acclaim within the community, his ability to positively shape young minds and his hard work and determination.
“Tim James is an exceptional teacher,” said Reid-Smith. “In my opinion, teaching is one of the noblest professions. You see his students achieve, and they stay in touch with him. He’s always there for them, whether they are still in school, they have gone on to college or they have gone into life. It’s his commitment to our young people in West Virginia (that Reid-Smith admires).”
Upon receiving the award, James was humble and grateful, giving a great deal of the credit to us, the students that he impacts so greatly, instead of taking it for himself.
Later, upon interview, James added the following statement: “I was very surprised. Not very many people get these, and at this point in my life, I felt very honored and humbled.”
According to James, he has known that teaching music was the thing for him for a very long time.
“I knew I wanted to be a band director from sixth grade,” said James. “I think that music majors take more time than many other majors. People don’t realize everything you have to go through, but I have hard work and determination for my craft.”
Reid-Smith certainly recognized my band director’s dedication when he nominated James for this award.
“I like to see people be recognized for what they do, not just what they did,” said Reid-Smith. “I like to see people continue to do things throughout their whole life, and no one works harder than Tim James.”
It’s nice to see such a kind, passionate man get the Distinguished West Virginian award, and we band kids are very proud of our wonderful band director.