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CHARLESTON – Shady Spring Elementary teacher Julia Reynolds has direct, practical advice for her students – dreaming isn’t enough.

“I just think it’s so important for children to know they can have dreams but with those dreams they have to have a plan,” said Reynolds, “some way to make that go from just being a dream they had to an actuality.”

Reynolds won the 2014 “When I Grow Up” teacher essay contest, $2,500 and her students’ valuable advice about having a plan of action. A new crop of teachers now has the chance to win the contest.

The 2015 version of the contest will accept entries until Feb. 27. Entry forms have been passed out in Beckley-area elementaries and in schools across the state. They are also available, along with contest rules and explanations, at www.SMART529.com.

“I urge more teachers and students to enter the contest,” said State Treasurer John Perdue, whose office sponsors the contest. “It’s a great way for them to flex their writing muscles and get across a good message. And the $2,500 prize for teachers is isn’t bad either.”

The contest names 15 regional age-group student winners, supplemented by the teacher award. Each student receives a $500 SMART529 savings account. The grand prize winner has his or her name drawn randomly and the winner receives another $4,500. The Hartford, which administers the savings plan for Treasurer Perdue’s office, supplies the prize money as a promotion for college savings.

For Reynolds, the desire and need to teach has been with her for quite some time.

“I’ve been teaching forever,” she said. “Even as a child I was teaching. What keeps me going is knowing that my life has not been spent in vain. Teachers have an awesome responsibility and just the wonderful gift of passing on to another generation a life of learning, knowledge and joy.

“We should have joy in our lives. I feel fortunate to be in a profession that I enjoy and to be surrounded by people who like being there. I feel very blessed.”

Reynolds says the contest is indeed raising awareness about the importance of saving for college.

“The most wonderful thing happened after we did this activity together,” she said. “It took several weeks for me to finish it but a parent came up to me and said, ‘Miss Reynolds, my child is so excited! She knows how she is going to start raising money and saving money and how she’s going to go to school and how she’s going to be a principal one day.’ And that made it worth it all.”






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