MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – She’s affectionately known as “the book lady” and if you’d walk into Mrs. Allyson Varlas’s room at Central Elementary in Marshall County, you’d see why. 

She has shelves of books of every kind. By having something for everyone she hopes to create a love of literacy for her students that will last long after they leave her class. 

When I’m in the classroom I feel like I’m in my like natural environment and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

At Central Elementary, you’ll probably find Mrs. Varlas with a book in her hand, reading to her 5th graders. 

Different genres such as comic books, graphic novels, poetry, I really try to give the kids opportunities to make a choice of what they like.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

This reading specialist encourages her students to pick up a book by trying to find stories they’ll love. 

She’s a fun teacher that always encourages our reading goals. 

Reagan Ali, 5th Grade Student

She explains everything and she tells us the ending, like about the life lesson.

Tidus Ewing, 5th Grade Student

Mrs. Varlas explained her favorite are the picture books because there’s often more to the text than just the brightly illustrated pages. 

Those picture books are so full of elaborate vocabulary and life lessons and really big like questions in life, so that later on when they’re older they may approach a problem that a character previously had come upon and say ‘hey I read that with Mrs. Varlas let me think about what that character did’.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

To always be kind, always be yourself and  never give up on anything you do.

Tidus Ewing, 5th Grade Student

Mrs. Varlas said that at first, she didn’t think she wanted a career in education because she grew up with a teacher in her household. Her mom was a teacher and eventually she realized it just made sense.

I knew what all it entailed to be a reading specialist and how rewarding it was to see the kids make gains, interact with the community, be able to work with the kids school-wide.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

In just three years of teaching, Mrs. Varlas managed to reach all students at the school through different programs. 

Central Sisters is close to her heart. It empowers female students by pairing high schoolers with 5th graders for fun activities. 

Central Sisters is really fun where we come together on the weekends sometimes and do different things. One time we baked cookies. Another time we made clay earrings.

Reagan Ali, 5th Grade Student

Mrs. Varlas began that program during her first year of teaching in 2019. It was inspired by a smiliar program she did with her sorority while going to school at West Liberty University.

Central Sisters has more fun events planned this year, including an all-female career fair in March.

The high school girls this year are so wonderful. They really interact with the girls asking what their favorite color is, what they like to do. I’m hoping too that it might build an interest with the high school girls to go into education so we can have more high quality teachers in the area.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

Her students love her and fellow teachers admire her. 

She’s just such a hard worker and what stands out to me is the veteran teachers respect her. The younger ones look up to her. She just always has our students best interest in mind.

Casey Storm, Principal, Central Elementary School

Mrs. Varlas just wants to inspire all students, one book at a time. 

No matter where they’re at in their reading, what level they’re on or anything, everyone is a reader.

Allyson Varlas, 5th Grade Reading Specialist, Central Elementary

Mrs. Varlas loves learning so much in fact that’s she’s still in school herself, working on another degree in administration. 

As a product of Marshall County Schools, she said she is very happy to be able to give back to the community she grew up in.

When she’s not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 90-pound dog who she loves. Mrs. Varlas also likes to read and work out.

To continue to honor more teachers like Mrs. Varlas from all across the Ohio Valley, 7News has teamed up with our friends at Belmont Savings Bank. We are collecting donations that will go towards purchasing items from the classroom wish lists of some local teachers who you will see featured like this on 7News this month.

To donate to our teachers, click here.

If you would like to nominate a teacher you love to possibly be mentioned on 7News, click here.