KEYSER - Keyser High School graduate Tara A. Brooks will be the guest speaker Wednesday, April 27, for the annual Katharine Church Award.

By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Keyser High School graduate Tara A. Brooks will be the guest speaker Wednesday, April 27, for the annual Katharine Church Award.
The award, started by the Keyser Rotary Club in 1992, is held in memory of Katharine A. Church, an educator and musician who distinguished herself not only in her career but also in her service to the community of Keyser.
She served for over 50 years as organist and choir director for the Keyser Presbyterian Church, and was even invited to the White House in 1936 to perform for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
It is given each year to a female scholar/athlete at KHS who has distinguished herself in her high school career in the fields of academics, athletics, leadership, and integrity.
Nominees for the award this year are Sydney Lyons, Cheyenne Thompson, and Katlynn Tichnell.
The speaker for the evening is an independent educational and behavioral consultant currently working on various non-profit projects.
She earned doctorate and master’s degrees in special education in 2011 and 1998, respectively, and a bachelor’s in interdepartmental studies in 1996. She most recently served as assistant dean of University College at her alma mater, West Virginia University.  
Brooks also has worked at Fairmont State University/Pierpont Community and Technical College as director of multicultural affairs and assistant professor in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance. She led diversity initiatives across campus, disciplines, faculty/staff and students. She also served as faculty advisor for students and various organizations and was active on numerous committees to assist in creating an inclusive environment.
She also started a Diversity Task Force at FSU, involving community members in increasing diversity awareness. She co-chaired a project with the then dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Performance that created an archive of digital stories on diversity and identities and chaired a team that worked on developing a professional development course for faculty, staff, and community members on examining diverse identities, Funding for these projects came from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
Prior to her work at FSU, she was a social justice specialist with WVU Extension, where she supported professional development activities, civil rights compliance, Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations as well as teams focused on social justice and reaching the underserved.
In addition to her early years as a special education resource room teacher in West Virginia and Maryland, Brooks has been a behavioral specialist and a special education lecturer and adjunct professor at WVU, Wheeling Jesuit University and Waynesburg Graduate College.
The award banquet is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at 6 p.m. at the Davis Conference Center on the campus of Potomac State College.
Tickets are $20 and may be purchased by calling Dinah Courrier at 304-813-7473 or by emailing her at
All former recipients and nominees of the award are invited to attend.