News Flash

Home

Posted on: December 7, 2023

East Salem's Matthew Frick Named Salem's 2024 Teacher of the Year

Salem City Schools Logo

Salem’s 2024 Teacher of the Year is a former custom cabinetmaker who now spends his time building foundations for first graders at East Salem Elementary School. 

“I am completely floored and honored by this recognition,” Matthew Frick said. “I work with some of the most amazing people I have ever met anywhere and for them to believe in me and have this kind of faith in me is unbelievable.”

Frick has been at East Salem for 10 years honing his craft and earning the respect of those co-workers and his admiring students.

“I am honored because I have so much respect for my peers,” he said. “I have never worked with people who have so much heart, love, and selflessness as the folks I have met while teaching at East. This is my second home.” 

How Frick found his way into this East Salem home was anything but routine. The Delaware native was working for a German Baptist family’s cabinetry business in Roanoke County when he decided to make a complete career switch. He enrolled in the master’s program at Staunton’s Mary Baldwin University and successfully obtained his education degree at the age of 40. He applied to work in Salem but knew that his chances of getting hired were slim without any classroom experience.

“Honestly, I had kind of given up at that point,” he said. “But on the Friday before the first teacher workday, Salem gave me a call because their enrollment numbers had increased to the point where they needed another teacher. By then, most educators were already in place, but I was still looking.” 

He was hired on a Friday and started the following Monday in the school division that was his first choice from the beginning. Frick had done several internships in the Roanoke Valley while pursuing his master’s degree through the continuing education center including a memorable stint in Bronwyn Thomas’ second grade class at South Salem Elementary. 

“I learned so much from her in that one week,” he said. “That was one of my best experiences and a big reason why I knew I wanted to be in Salem.”

But he quickly discovered that working with power tools was much different than communicating in PowerSchool. Shaping a room full of 6-year-old kiddos would require different approaches, practices, and plenty of patience. 

“I was lost the first couple of weeks; I mean, I was really lost.” he said. “But when I look back, I think about all the amazing people from that school who jumped in and helped me with my room and brought me materials. The entire school made sure I was ready for opening day.”

Frick is now one of the most respected teachers in the entire school. In addition to serving as a mentor and sounding board for his fellow educators, one of his greatest strengths is his culturally responsive approach to teaching in a diverse classroom. He is committed to treating all students with dignity and respect, especially those with special needs. 

“Matthew has become a leader among his peers in the building,” Weston Thomas, East Salem Assistant Principal, said. “He continues to learn and grow so that he can better serve the children of our community and his hard work and positive spirit make him an excellent role model for students and adults.” 

“For many kids, it really resonates to have a male teacher in their lives,” Frick said. “I think a big part of what I do is helping with the socialization of the students. We have all the academics, but then there is also learning how to work together, getting along, managing emotions, respecting one another, and getting through the day in a productive and happy way.” 

To teach you must have plenty of passion and a great deal of compassion. For Frick and many others, the decision to teach was built around the opportunity to make a difference.

“I enjoyed the cabinetmaking and the challenge, but I spent a lot of time building very expensive things for very few people who could afford them,” he said. “I wanted to apply myself where I could contribute something that would help more than just our wealthiest citizens.”

Frick volunteers his time throughout the school year, and he regularly communicates with parents and leads East Salem’s “Watch Dog” program. This initiative invites family and community members to volunteer during the school day at East Salem. The positive partnership benefits both East Salem’s students and family members.

“Matthew Frick is the epitome of a humble, committed educator who makes every decision through the lens of what is best for his students,” Hunter Routt, East Salem Principal, said. “As a result, he is shaping compassionate, engaged learners who will accomplish great things for our entire community as they continue to grow.”

“Teaching these days is a difficult job, but right now I have a hard time imagining myself doing anything else,” he said. “I love first grade because when we get to about January those light bulbs start going off and the reading clicks and the arithmetic clicks and we pick up momentum. It’s exciting to see that leap in the academic growth.” 

Frick grew up in Milford, Delaware and often escaped to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia for backpacking trips. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from Delaware State in 1998, he moved to the valley and has been a resident here ever since. He enjoys everything about the outdoors including fishing, kayaking, camping, and gardening. But more than anything, he loves spending his free time with his son, his son’s family, and his extended family members at East Salem.

“I just love working with these students and building relationships with them throughout the year,” he said. “You see all these qualities in these kids, and you want to foster them and bring out all of the good you can and help those qualities shine.”

A shine that is brighter than a room full of brand-new cabinets.

SALEM’S OTHER 2024 TEACHERS OF YEAR AND THEIR RESPECTIVE SCHOOLS

Liza Moles

Middle & High School Subjects

AIIMS Center

Corbitt Hairston

Sixth Grade Social Studies

Andrew Lewis Middle

Marcee McMillan

Third Grade

G.W. Carver Elementary

Kristen Huffman

English

Salem High School

Lindsay Murray

Second Grade

South Salem Elementary

Branden Wells

Instructional Technology Resource Teacher

West Salem Elementary



2024 Salem Teachers of the Year



Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home

Salem City Seal

2023 Holiday Events All Set for Salem

Posted on: November 17, 2023
Salem City Seal

2023 Halloween Events Set For Salem

Posted on: October 3, 2023
Salem Civic Center Logo

Hitmaker Dustin Lynch Returning to Salem

Posted on: September 21, 2023
Salem City Seal

Electoral Board Meets on September 11

Posted on: September 9, 2023
Salem City Seal

Salem Seeks City Manager Applicants

Posted on: September 5, 2023
Salem Civic Center Logo

Salem Fair Enjoys The Ride in 2023

Posted on: July 10, 2023
Salem Civic Center Logo

Heavy Metal Rockers Coming to Salem

Posted on: June 13, 2023
Salem Fire Department Logo

Structure Fire at 2011 Apperson Dr.

Posted on: April 22, 2023
Salem Fire Department Logo

Structure Fire at 16 McDivitt Road

Posted on: April 22, 2023
Salem Parks and Recreation Logo

2023 Easter Egg Hunt Set for April 5

Posted on: March 21, 2023
Salem Civic Center Logo

New Owners for the Salem Red Sox

Posted on: March 17, 2023
Salem Fire Department Logo

Early Morning Fire on West Main Street

Posted on: January 14, 2023
Salem City Seal

2022 Holiday Events All Set in Salem

Posted on: November 22, 2022
Salem Civic Center Logo

Indoor Pro Lacrosse Coming to Salem

Posted on: November 21, 2022
Salem Parks and Recreation Logo

2022 Halloween Activities Set in Salem

Posted on: October 20, 2022
Salem Fire Department Logo

Salem Fire and EMS Extinguish 9th St. Fire

Posted on: September 25, 2022
Salem Police Department Logo

Salem Police Receive Statewide HEAT Honor

Posted on: September 16, 2022
Salem City Seal

Olde Salem Days 2022 Traffic Information

Posted on: September 7, 2022
Salem City Seal

Apperson Bridge Sidewalks Closed

Posted on: May 22, 2022
Salem Civic Center Logo

Paw Patrol LIVE Coming to Salem In June

Posted on: February 14, 2022
Salem Fire Department Logo

Yokohama Fire Causes $160,000 Damage

Posted on: December 20, 2021
Salem Police Department Logo

Police Arrest Two for Stealing from Cars

Posted on: December 3, 2021
Salem City Seal

2021 Holiday Events Announced for Salem

Posted on: November 17, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Commercial Fire at MedExpress on West Main

Posted on: November 10, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Three Pets Perish in Peach Street Fire

Posted on: November 5, 2021
Salem City Seal

Council Proclaims Murray Cook Day in Salem

Posted on: September 28, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Structure Fire on Azalea Street

Posted on: August 27, 2021

Parker McCollum is Coming to Salem

Posted on: August 26, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Structure Fire on Victoria Street

Posted on: April 3, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Dog Perishes in Front Avenue Fire

Posted on: March 30, 2021
Salem City Schools Logo

Epperly Named Assistant Principal at SHS

Posted on: February 10, 2021
Salem Police Department Logo

Goodman Named Police Officer of the Year

Posted on: February 10, 2021
Salem City Schools Logo

Kayla Wood Named SHS Girls Soccer Coach

Posted on: February 10, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

House Fire on Valleydale Avenue

Posted on: January 23, 2021
Salem City Seal

I-81 Widening Meeting Set for Feb. 9

Posted on: January 11, 2021
Salem City Seal

Local COVID-19 Vaccination Plans

Posted on: January 11, 2021
Salem Fire Department Logo

Structure Fire on Stonewall Circle

Posted on: January 4, 2021
Salem City Seal

Need Help with Utility Bills Payment?

Posted on: December 21, 2020
Salem City Seal

2020 Holiday Events Set For December

Posted on: November 30, 2020
Salem City Seal

Salem Receives Second State Tourism Grant

Posted on: November 16, 2020
Salem City Schools Logo

Boyd Named SHS Boys Basketball Coach

Posted on: November 12, 2020
Salem Police Department Logo

Salem Murder Suspect Arrested in West Va.

Posted on: November 10, 2020
Salem City Seal

Salem Awarded 15 New NCAA Championships

Posted on: October 14, 2020
Salem City Schools Logo

Salem School Division Earns Statewide Honor

Posted on: September 21, 2020
Salem Parks and Recreation Logo

2020 Salem Half Marathon Goes All Virtual

Posted on: September 14, 2020
Salem Parks and Recreation Logo

Parks & Rec Offering New Wellness Classes

Posted on: September 8, 2020
Salem City Seal

Phase II Downtown Revitalization Underway

Posted on: September 3, 2020
Salem City Seal

Rob Light Named Assistant City Manager

Posted on: August 24, 2020
Salem Parks and Recreation Logo

Salem Half Marathon COVID-19 Update

Posted on: July 30, 2020
Salem City Seal

Council Extends Due Dates for Taxes

Posted on: April 14, 2020
Salem City Seal

Local Governments Declare Emergencies

Posted on: March 16, 2020
Salem Police Department Logo

Police Make Arrest in Baymont Inn Incident

Posted on: February 19, 2020
Salem Fire Department Logo

Residential Fire on West Riverside Dr.

Posted on: February 16, 2020
Salem Civic Center Logo

Americana Music Artists Coming to Salem

Posted on: February 10, 2020
Salem Police Department Logo

Webb Named Salem Officer of the Year

Posted on: January 21, 2020
Salem City Schools Logo

Adam Ward Classic Expands for 2020

Posted on: January 14, 2020
Salem Fire Department Logo

Commercial Fire on Salem Industrial Dr.

Posted on: January 5, 2020