Social Network Bar Tell us about a Great Teacher

Whitney Darden is every parent's dream teacher

Whitney Darden

Whitney Darden is every parent's dream teacher. She forms strong relationships with her students and shows them she cares about them as an individual by getting to know them outside of school. My son asked Mrs. Darden to come to watch his basketball game and she arranged her busy schedule with her family to come out and watch him play. My son talked about this for days. When he missed school for a family event, she asked him how it went as well, again making him feel special. These are the things that mean a lot to him and she takes the time to let him know they mean something to her. Mrs. Darden is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. She arrives at school early every day and stays late to ensure she and her students are ready to tackle the day. A Great Teacher like this feeds Great Dreams from her students, especially mine.

- Kelli Whalen

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Darden received two free movie passes.

Pamela Johnson ‘the type of teacher every parent would want for their child’

Pamela Johnson

I would like to show my appreciation for and acknowledge Mrs. Pamela Johnson, who works with my son at Virginia Beach Middle School.

Mrs. Johnson is such a great teacher; she’s the type of teacher every parent would want for their child. Mrs. Johnson is very passionate about her job and the countless kids that she interacts with. She’s very observant and always figures out a way to help my child catch on to something that he doesn’t understand. As a parent, Mrs. Johnson is a dream to have as a special education teacher. However, I truly knew she was awesome when my son said that she’s pretty awesome and the best teacher he’s ever had.

If Great Dreams equal Great Teachers, that’s definitely Mrs. Johnson.

- Adrienne Haynes

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Johnson received two free movie passes.

Sharon Boudreau ‘pours love into her students daily’

Sharon Boudreau

I wanted to take a moment to recognize the hard work and dedication of Sharon Boudreau, special education teacher in the West Building at Princess Anne High School. My son has been in Mrs. Boudreau’s class for the past few years. We were worried about his transition from middle school to high school as any parent would be, however, our son is nonverbal and has an exceptional number of personal needs, which simply compounded the anxiety of his new adventure. Mrs. Boudreau and her team immediately put us at ease and continue to do so.

Mrs. Boudreau is compassionate, loving and understanding. She pours love into her students daily by helping them be the very best they can be no matter their physical or mental limitations. How do I know this you wonder? I can see it on the face of my son. When he leaves to get on the bus in the morning and when he gets home in the afternoon he is happy. He smiles, he talks (in his own way) and melts at the mention of her name. He recently brought home a classroom yearbook and every student had that same smile. The smile of being cared for, of being appreciated and, most of all, of being accepted just the way they are.

Mrs. Boudreau, thank you for all that you do, every day, for your students. You are a true blessing in our lives and we appreciate you!

It’s hard to imagine a better first grade teacher for my daughter than Mrs. Gulick.

- Debra Liddon

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Boudreau received two free movie passes.

Brandon Miner ‘is one of the best teachers in the world’

Brandon Miner

Mr. Miner is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Brandon Middle School. He is the best teacher I have ever had. He really makes learning fun and makes sure we know the material. He will go over it with you until you can get it down. Mr. Miner does more than teaching though; this year I’ve been struggling with some family issues and Mr. Miner’s been there for me through it all. He said that he was always available to me when I needed it and that I can email him, talk to him during lunch, and said he would tell all of my teachers that if I needed to talk to him that they should let me. He really is the best teacher I have ever had. I really appreciate him being there for me and making me better with all of the social studies material. Thank you.

- Rebecca Crabtree

Mr. Miner is one of the best teachers in the world. He always makes me feel encouraged when I need it the most. Mr. Miner always takes his time if someone needs help. He makes learning fun. I hate the fact that next year I won't be in his class. He lets us do whatever we want if we finish everything, but you never want to finish anything because it is so fun. Mr. Miner has rules that are reasonable for me. Unlike other teachers, Mr. Miner has never let me get bummed out; whenever I do somehow get bummed out, he is there to help me. To me he feels like a father that I can always go to for help.

- Aiden Powers

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Miner received two free movie passes.

Stephanie Aitchison’s ‘strength is in how she relates to her students’

Stephanie Aitchison

The great teacher I would like to tell you about is Mrs. Aitchison, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Old Donation School. All of the teachers on the Fox seventh-grade team have been amazing and so supportive to me and my son this school year, but I wanted to recognize Mrs. Aitchison in particular. Any time I reached out to Mrs. Aitchison she responded to me via phone call or email usually on the same day. Mrs. Aitchison's assignments are engaging and fun and let her students use not only their intellect, but their creativity as well. Although these are all great attributes to have in a teacher, I think her strength is in how she relates to her students. When my son has questions, she always responds with upbeat and encouraging emails. These communications not only include guidance on what he can do better but always point out what he did well. These small praises mean to world to not only him, but to me as well. Although I have tried, words really cannot express my gratitude to Mrs. Aitchison for what she has done for both me and my son this school year.

- Jennifer Simpson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Aitchison received two free movie passes.

Melinda Gulick makes her students ‘feel loved and valued’

Melinda Gulick

Mrs. Gulick is my daughter’s first-grade teacher at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School. I am amazed at the change I have seen in my daughter this year. She has a whole new passion for learning, accompanied with a strong intensity and drive to learn even more. She wakes up in the morning with a passion to not just go to school and be social, but to actually learn new things and find new ways to apply them.

In the eyes of my daughter and the other children in the class, Mrs. Gulick is more than a teacher, she is a mentor. Mrs. Gulick’s extensive teaching experience shows in all areas of her teaching technique. By interjecting humor and hands-on projects, students of all learning styles are able to absorb information that otherwise would be difficult. This year, the students got to watch the entire life cycle of a chicken from egg all the way through the birth of live chicks. The kids chose names for the eggs and would talk about the eggs as if they were talking about their favorite television show.

Mrs. Gulick's positive influence reaches far beyond the classroom. She treats the students like they are part of her family and makes them feel loved and valued. She will, oftentimes, let the students eat lunch with her, which they absolutely love. Even outside of school hours, Mrs. Gulick is present at almost every one of the school activities to support the students and to support the school. Additionally, on more than one occasion, I have seen Mrs. Gulick attend her students' athletic competitions that are not even affiliated with the school. The kids light up to see that their teacher cares enough about them to invest time after school to see them and encourage them in their athletic endeavors.

It’s hard to imagine a better first grade teacher for my daughter than Mrs. Gulick.

- Shelly Pfeiffer

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Gulick received two free movie passes.

Shannon Cole ‘is very caring, helpful and extremely trustworthy’

Shannon Cole

I would really like Mrs. Shannon Cole, of Brookwood Elementary School, to be recognized as a Great Teacher! She has helped my son immensely during this school year. I credit her with many, if not all, of his successes inside and outside of the learning environment. She is very caring, helpful and extremely trustworthy. I know she loves my son just as much as she loves her job. Mrs. Cole deserves to be recognized and there should be more teachers out there just like her. She means a lot to my son and to my family.

- Alison N. Nitti

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Cole received two free movie passes.



Parents thank Lynn Steinberg for helping their daughter shine

Lynn Steinberg

We would like to share our experience with Mrs. Lynn Steinberg, the American Sign Language (ASL) teacher at Ocean Lakes High School.

Our daughter is completing her sophomore year at OL. As a stutterer, she was terrified of having to meet the foreign language requirement for graduation. With OL as our zoned high school, ASL was the perfect option. Based on her speech challenge, she was permitted to take ASL I her freshman year, a course usually reserved for upperclassmen. Mrs. Steinberg welcomed our daughter into the class and her support for and love of teaching sign hooked our daughter on day one. She is completing ASL II this year and acing the class. Mrs. Steinberg, who is a deaf teacher, has been a godsend for our daughter. We celebrated last month when, as a sophomore, she was inducted into the ASL National Honor Society.

Both of our children have been blessed to have Lynn Steinberg as their American Sign Language teacher at Ocean Lakes. Thank you, Mrs. Steinberg, for offering an option for our daughter to shine and for making a difference in the lives of both of our children.

-Doug and Katie Knap

Steinberg received a gift card to Target provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Brandon Thompson is ‘by far the best teacher’ for kindergarten

Brandon Thompson

I'd like to brag on my daughter’s teacher, Mr. Brandon Thompson, a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Woods Elementary School. Going into kindergarten she was hesitant of male figures that she didn't know. She first met Mr. Thompson over the summer for her kindergarten testing. When he approached her she immediately starting crying, even though I spoke with her about the possibility of the new male teacher testing her. He left the office with her in tears and came back with her smiling and at ease. From that day on she wanted him as her teacher. When her letter came assigning her to his class she was so excited.

As it turns out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Mr. Thompson, along with Mrs. Long, have taught my daughter so much over the past eight months. I've seen her grow as an individual. She's come out of her shell and she's more outgoing. He encourages her to raise her hand and participate. She's writing complete sentences and loves to read. One of the reason is because he makes learning fun for the kids. Last month they were learning about fractions. Mr. Thompson made this fun by using food to represent different fractional amounts. He is by far the best teacher that Mr. Orebaugh could have chosen to teach kindergarten this year.

Thank you for all that you do, Mr. Thompson. Your caring nature and love for our children is seen every day!

- Heather De La Cruz

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Thompson received two free movie passes.

Judith Carter and Emily Bellamy collaborate to support student success

Judith Carter Emily Bellamy

I have two teachers from different schools I wish to nominate for recognition with the Great Dreams campaign.

Ms. Judith Carter is my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher at Ocean Lakes Elementary School. My daughter didn’t always believe in herself and her abilities. She would hide and look down at her desk when asked questions in class. She also was struggling to read on grade level and would just “shut down” during math. This school year, my daughter’s grades have been the best they have ever have been. Ms. Carter supports my daughter through so much, she truly embodies the Compass to 2020 goal of supporting the social-emotional needs of her students.

Which leads me to the second teacher I must recognize, Ms. Emily Bellamy at Three Oaks Elementary. She tutors my daughter weekly to help her with math. Because she believes in my daughter, accepts her and all her “quirkiness,” my daughter now loves math. Both Ms. Bellamy and Ms. Carter have regularly communicated with each other about my daughter’s progress this past year. My daughter knows they communicate, which shows her how much she is supported and cared for. Two teachers, from different schools, coming together to help my child.

This collaboration between two teachers from two different schools also showcases the Compass to 2020 goal of creating growth and excellence in our schools. I could not be prouder to have both my children attend VBSchools.

- Amy Mallinson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Art teacher Scott Fredrick makes all students feel talented and capable

Scott Fredrick

His art projects and tasks keep the kids on task and wanting to go to his room. One of the favorite parts of the year is when the students get to do their clay creations. Just to see how the project has evolved and how he has allowed them to have more responsibility over the years is remarkable. Each week, going to art class is the highlight of son's school day. He cannot wait to tell me what they drew, painted, designed, learned or colored. He brings home his projects with such joy and always mentions how Mr. Fredrick helped with this, or taught them that. I am not sure if I have a future Picasso on my hands – by the look of his art, I don't – but it doesn't matter. Mr. Fredrick makes them all feel as though they are talented, capable, and are creating pieces of art worthy of museums around the world. I am thankful he is there each day, each year, and doesn't limit the creativity of these students – even if their clay cheetah looks more like a roadkill frog. Thank you for all that you do!

- Lindsay Thompson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Fredrick received two free movie passes.

Renee Barbour has an ‘enthusiastic and positive approach to teaching’

Renee Barbour

I would like to recognize Renee Barbour, an amazing fifth-grade teacher at North Landing Elementary School. My three children attended North Landing kindergarten through fifth-grade, and two of my daughters were lucky enough to have Mrs. Barbour in fifth-grade. Mrs. Barbour's enthusiastic and positive approach to teaching had a great impact on my girls' love for learning. Mrs. Barbour has taught hundreds of students over the years, but continues to remember specific events and memories of not only my daughters, but our whole family. My youngest daughter was paired with Mrs. Barbour for her Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow internship. She was welcomed with open arms and encouragement as she continued to soak in Mrs. Barbour's infectious commitment to education. Mrs. Barbour is a wonderful teacher and mentor.

- JoAnne Johnson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Barbour received two free movie passes.

Michelle Young ‘is truly amazing and is such a true blessing’

Michelle Young

I would like to recognize Michelle Young, kindergarten teacher at Red Mill Elementary. Mrs. Young has fostered a true love of learning in my son through her hands-on, always fun approach. My son goes to school excited every day and comes home full of interesting stories to share from his day. She sends emails frequently to her students’ parents, letting us know what our children are doing day to day, which allows me to have more productive discussions with my son about school. Also in these emails are pictures of all the amazing things they did that day or week. She does this on her own time, well after the classroom is empty. She is truly amazing and is such a true blessing! Her passion for teaching is like none I’ve experienced! Thank you, Mrs. Young.

- Rebecca Straseskie

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Young received two free movie passes.

Theresa Holloran and Chanel Jones show each child ‘so much love and joy every day’

Theresa Holloran and Chanel Jones

I would like to tell you a little bit about two amazing teachers who I am so blessed to have been able to meet and have in our lives.

I was very nervous when my youngest son started school. It was a huge challenge for him to leave my husband and me every morning, but as the school year has gone on, he is excited to go to school. Mrs. Holloran and Mrs. Jones show each child in the class so much love and joy every day. They are not just teaching them their numbers, letters or how to read, but every day they are teaching self-control and the best behavioral skills that will help for the rest of their lives.

Teaching isn't a job for them, it's truly a passion! My son says that Mrs. Holloran and Mrs. Jones are not only his teachers but now are part of our family. He has learned and grown so much this year that I have no doubt he will succeed in years to come because of the foundation that they have helped build. I am forever grateful for all the love and support that they give and instill in the children at Rosemont Elementary every day.

-The Hayes Family

Rosemont Elementary School has a phenomenal pre-K teacher named Mrs. Holloran. When my son started pre-kindergarten he was less than thrilled and let's just say he was determined that he was not going to stay. Fast foward to now, as we are approaching kindergarten, and he is determined that he is going to stay with Mrs. Holloran forever. She has provided such a warm and loving environment for the entire class that I can see why he doesn't want to leave her.

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- Erica Prosser

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Wendy Bryant-Nyamweya’s impact ‘will last forever’

Wendy Bryant-Nyamweya

Sometimes “thank you” isn’t enough. When a teacher touches the hearts and minds of children and their families, wonderful things happen. Such was and is the case for me my daughters under the teachings of Wendy Bryant-Nyamweya at North Landing Elementary School.

Mrs. Nyamweya first taught my oldest daughter in kindergarten in 2006. As a lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, I do not know of a better kindergarten experience that any child could possibly have had. My daughter took interest in school, smiled every day going to school and gave great details about her day after.

But the story of Mrs. Nyamweya’s contributions to my family were just beginning. My oldest daughter was blessed again, in 2010, to have her as a fourth-grade teacher. During this school year, my daughter experienced a few personal learning challenges that Mrs. Nyamweya handled with dignity and grace. With her dedication, care and commitment, my daughter overcame these challenges. She moved into fifth-grade with confidence and is presently attending Kellam High School where she has taken several advanced placement classes, some in the same subjects that were of concern back in the fourth grade. My daughter visits Mrs. Nyamweya from time to time at North Landing and names her as her favorite teacher, topped only by the smiles and hugs that they share when seeing each other.

As my middle daughter eventually reached fourth grade, she did not find herself in Mrs. Nyamweya’s class. However, Mrs. Nyamweya interacted with my family anytime we visited the school. I let her know that my youngest daughter had started attending North Landing and that I hoped she would have a chance to work with her in the future. I kidded with her and let her know that she couldn’t leave the school until my youngest had the opportunity to learn from her. She was blessed and placed in Mrs. Nyamweya’s class at the beginning of this school year.

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- Ted Sakis

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Bryant-Nyamweya received two free movie passes.

Student says Lalisha Fitchett ‘is one of the best teachers I’ve had’

Lalisha Fitchett

Mrs. Fitchett teaches at Brandon Middle as a social studies and English teacher, and I would consider her one of the best teachers I’ve had. She always takes the time to care about what’s going on in your personal life. She will talk to you if anything is happening. My classmates and I are never afraid to talk to her. She also takes the time to help us with our weak points and work our way up from there. She comes up with ways that will make it easier to learn – like, giving us a certain document on the thing we have problems with and just takes the time to work with us, and we appreciate that. I always look forward coming to her class every day knowing I’ll get the learning experience I need and that I want. I definitely know she is a great teacher and my classmates and I know that also.

- a Brandon Middle student

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Fitchett received two free movie passes.

Kerri Land ‘is always there to put a smile on your face’

Kerri Land

Ms. Land is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I use to not enjoy PE and health, and because of her, I finally enjoy that class. In the beginning of the year when I met her, I had no idea I would build such a close relationship with her. Whether you’re having a bad or good day, she’s always there to put a smile on your face. She puts so much effort and love into her students that you can definitely tell she cares for them.

I’ve experienced a lot this year and Ms. Land has been by my side through it all. Whether I need advice or just someone to tell my problems to, she has been there. This year I worked with her as a manager for the JV girls soccer team and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done all because of her. I use to not be involved in school and she took me out of that shell. She makes you want to push harder towards your goals and to always be yourself no matter what life throws at you.

Without her by my side throughout this year, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Not having her class next year is going to be difficult but I know I can still always come to her for anything. She has changed my life in such a positive way and I know a lot of other students feel that way too. Thank you Ms. Land for not only being an amazing teacher but an amazing mentor and person I will forever look up to. You’re kind and compassionate words have such an impact on me. You will always be one of my favorite teachers. Thank you again for all you do!

-McKenna Messerole

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Land received two free movie passes.

Heide Hackworth ‘is a mentor, friend and confidant’

Heide Hackworth

Mrs. Hackworth, or “Frau” as we call her, is an amazing teacher at Green Run High School. I have had her for the past four years and she is so much more than just a teacher. She is a mentor, friend and confidant. She pushed me to pursue the German biliteracy seal and made sure that I was well prepared for it. She loves what she does, she excites us in class, she sets us all up for success, and I really want to honor her. I will miss her.

- Mason Tarkenton

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Hackworth received two free movie passes.



Sarah McGhee ‘ignites a lifelong love of music’

Sarah McGhee

My name is Zoe Davis and I am in eighth-grade at Plaza Middle school. I wanted to honor a teacher who is a trendsetter for other teachers and an inspiration for any student lucky enough to have taken her class. That teacher is the one and only Ms. McGhee.

For three years, I've taken orchestra at Plaza Middle with the lovely and talented Ms. McGhee, and she has taught me so much more than the basics needed to play the violin. She challenges us to learn from our mistakes and view them as opportunities instead of failures. Ms. McGhee's attitude and love for her profession are contagious. My first experience with Ms. McGhee was as one of her "baby sixth-graders.” Our entire group was shaking with fear before the first time we'd performed, but Ms. McGhee reminded us to remain calm and focus on the music. She believed in us when we didn't always believe in ourselves. Ms. McGhee inspires her students to fall in love with their own abilities and ignites a lifelong love of music. My mom told me that students remember Ms. McGhee and still talk about her in high school all the time. Her enthusiasm for what she does not only makes me want to be a better violinist, but she has sparked a love for music in me which is a gift I will carry for the rest of my life.

In addition, to her wisdom, she shows tremendous dedication through her work. Ms. McGhee is the definition of hardworking through her passion for learning new techniques, the patience she carries with each lesson, and her high expectations for all of her students. She enforces lessons that will not only challenge our skills as musicians but challenge us to incorporate our entire brain into the open-minded thinking of music theory. She stresses the importance of improving our skills and when we hit an obstacle that in our minds we "cannot" reach, she encourages us to keep trying.

With all of her commitment to her job, she has shown me that music is a lot more than just something to take as an elective. It is an experience and thanks to her, I will always carry it in my heart.

- Zoe Davis

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, McGhee received two free movie passes.

Chris Worst is dedicated to his subject and students

Chris Worst

Our teenage son has never liked PE class. With his special needs, group sports are difficult for him, and he has yet to find an individual physical activity he enjoys besides bowling. As a testament to the power of a great teacher, our son no longer dreads going to PE now that he has Coach Worst as his teacher. He talks to us all the time about what goes on in class (for example, fishing – how innovative!). And dare I say it, he enjoys P.E. class for the first time ever. I have even been known to tell my kids, after hearing our son talk about class, that I would go back to high school P.E. myself if I had Coach Worst for my instructor. After a lifetime of learning to despise all physical activity after years of misery in P.E. class, this is high praise indeed. Coach Worst is amazing. His dedication to his subject and students should be recognized and rewarded. Thank you for giving us a public forum to do so.

- a Kellam High School parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Worst received two free movie passes.

Heather Hauser and Leslie Umphlette are ‘two amazing teachers’

Heather Hauser and Leslie Umphlette

I would like to nominate two amazing teachers from Lynnhaven Elementary – Mrs. Hauser and Mrs. Umphlette.

My children had the pleasure of having Mrs. Hauser as a teacher in first grade and now again in third grade. She is just a wonderful teacher. She has great communication with the parents. She makes my son excited to go to school daily. She makes the children feel loved and truly cares about them. If they are having a bad day she is quick to help them. She names each child in class and the other kids say something nice about them to give them compliments and make their day better.

Mrs. Umphlette is such a kind and sweet soul. She always has a smile on her face and all the kids love her. She also helps with the after school CCLC program and is in school to better her education, so she shows the kids you can do anything you put your mind to. No matter how much she has going on she still keeps a smile on her face.

I think both of these teachers are a great part of Lynnhaven Elementary and they both are truly amazing women!

- Kristian Culin

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Zano received two free movie passes.

Pam Crichton ‘is well-loved and respected by her students’

Pam Crichton

I would like to nominate Ms. Pamela Crichton, a third grade teacher at Centerville Elementary as a great teacher. She is an awesome teacher who goes above and beyond to support her students.

My son had Ms. Crichton as his teacher a couple years ago. About a month into the school year, he broke his (writing) arm. She worked with him through his recovery and his struggle to complete his work with his non-writing hand. During his recovery time at home, she had his fellow classmates send him encouraging notes.

Ms. Crichton is well-loved and respected by her students, both current and former. She recently performed with one of her students in the gifted dancing showcase. She also is involved in the Girls on the Run unit at our school.

She takes time during each month to sit and have lunch with a few of her students in the classroom. The students enjoy having those unique lunch breaks. She is always supportive with PTA fundraisers and events as well.

Ms. Crichton is an asset to the Virginia Beach school system. She is the epitome of a great teacher!

- Melanie Boyle

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- Bhavani Parakala

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Crichton received two free movie passes.

Michael Mosley encourages students to follow their dreams

Michael Mosley

My daughter has been in the AVID program for the past few years at Kempsville High School under the leadership of Mr. Mosley. Not a week goes by that she doesn’t mention something that he is doing on behalf of the students in the AVID class. My daughter knows that he believes in her and this has truly inspired her to keep moving forward even during difficult times. He believes in each student and makes a point to have a personal relationship with them. He encourages my daughter when she needs to be encouraged but also has those difficult conversations with her when she needs to be pushed. Mr. Mosley encourages her to follow her dreams and points her in the direction she needs to go to make important decisions. My daughter comes home and tells me about all the different strategies Mr. Mosley uses in class to meet the varied needs of her classmates. She has even told me, “Mom, it’s like he knows exactly what we need and goes out of his way to make sure we get it.” Mr. Mosely is an outstanding teacher and an asset to VBCPS, one very deserving of the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers recognition.

- Cherie Brogan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Mosley received two free movie passes.

Hope Costanza ‘establishes positive relationships with all her students’

Hope Costanza

Mrs. Costanza is an extraordinary teacher at Salem High School. She establishes positive relationships with all of her students. She has taught marketing and financial management classes at Salem for over 20 years and her teaching styles are still magnificent. Her teaching styles include real-life situations and technology every day. Because of this, students remember her for many years and she is very appreciated among students and staff at Salem.

- Justin McMillan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Costanza received two free movie passes.



Melinda Jones, Nelia Maurizi and Barry Clark make a difference

Melinda Jones, Nelia Maurizi and Barry Clark

I would like to tell you about three Lynnhaven Elementary teachers who have had a positive impact on my son who has had some problems this year. The music teacher, Ms. Maurizi, got involved with him in a program they have there and she takes the time out of her day just to help him. He has been a different child and his love for learning has come back. Also Mr. Clark, the gym teacher, emails me every day and takes time out of his day, too, if my son needs anything. Ms. Jones, the art teacher, does the same and takes time out of her day to be there for my son. I feel they need to be recognized for taking time out with not just my son but all the kids. I hope there is some way you can let them know how amazing they really are.

- Kristin Jackson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Victoria Zano ‘makes learning fun and full of new experiences’

Victoria Zano

I would like to nominate Mrs. Zano as a Great Teacher. She was my very first teacher at Centerville Elementary School in kindergarten. She welcomed me and all the other kids to the class on the first day with a bright smile and hearty, “Good morning, class!” She showed me how to spell words and also taught me how to read on my own. She made learning fun and full of new experiences by how she taught me and the rest of the class. Mrs. Zano still remembers me when I walk down the halls of Centerville and gives me a big smile and says, “There’s my little Morgan.” She is full of knowledge to open kids up to be willing to learn and has a big heart to show us kids how to learn and make learning fun at the same time. I will forever remember Mrs. Zano and will make sure to get her something special for the first day of school besides an apple.

- Morgan Henahan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Zano received two free movie passes.

Kristi Sundstrom ‘is a very caring teacher’’

Kristi Sundstrom

Mrs. Sundstrom has made my son’s transition to high school much easier than I could have imagined. She is a very caring teacher. She has worked very hard all year to help bring my son out of his shell. Anytime I have had an issue or a question she has been right on top of it and helped to solve the problem. I know if my son was to need anything she would be the person he would go to and that she is his safe person in a time of need. I could go on and on about what an amazing and caring teacher she is.

- a Salem High School parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Sundstrom received two free movie passes.

Joshua Bruening ‘makes a positive difference for many students’

Joshua Bruening

My son is a senior at Kempsville High School and he has talked numerous times all throughout the year about his English 12 teacher, Joshua Bruening. My husband and I met him at the open house at the beginning of the year and we felt so comfortable meeting and talking with him that we actually stayed two bells in his class instead of going to the next class. I find it fascinating that this teacher has been able to keep the interest of these kids with “senioritis.” My son has said that Mr. B is the best teacher that he has ever had. I feel that is a huge compliment because he has had many wonderful teachers over the years. Mr. B is so approachable to the students. He has shown the students many options that they have when they graduate that they might have not realized. There are some students who are just not cut out for college (although my son is going) but he has brought in several people to talk to the students, such as different military branches and shipyard workers, etc. He is always upbeat and positive. I am just very happy that my son is ending his high school years with such a positive outlook that I feel has a lot to do with Mr. Bruening. I hope he continues teaching for a long time because I can see that he will make a positive difference for many students as well as my own.

- Pam Albert

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Bruening received two free movie passes.

Lillian Nolan and Samantha Dove help student ‘through all his first-year jitters’

Lillian Nolan and Samantha Dove

My son’s teachers are Mrs. Nolan and Ms. Dove at New Castle Elementary School. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these two women. My son has done so well in kindergarten and I attribute it all to these amazing teachers. They have helped him through all his first-year jitters. Thank you so much.

- Suzanne Lombardi

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.




Parent says Alicia Dudley is ‘a treasure’

Alicia Dudley

As the mom of a busy boy, I hold my breath when I meet his teacher for our first conference each year. Within seconds I realized that Mrs. Dudley "got" my son. Not only has he thrived in her class but she has done everything possible to help him be successful. As a parent you know your child's strengths and weaknesses and it's a true gift to find a teacher that recognizes the same things. Her ability to really understand him enhances his educational experience and our overall communication and support immensely. Thank you, Mrs. Dudley, for taking the time to go above and beyond! You are a treasure!

- Kristyn Brown-Moore

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Dudley received two free movie passes.

Sarah Morrison ‘is an amazing teacher’

Sarah Morrison

Sarah Morrison, Lynnhaven Middle School eighth-grade English teacher, is an amazing teacher. Not only does she love her content, she is always pushing the students to do more than they thought they could. Recently, she had her students enter the Elie Wiesel Visual Arts Competition through The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. The students were allowed to choose what category they wanted to enter. My son and his friend entered the multimedia competition with a video they won first place overall in the junior division. I am so thankful Ms. Morrison guided them through this assignment. It is not something my son would have ever done on his own; however, he was able to celebrate his accomplishments and learn and meet new people (including Holocaust survivors living in Hampton Roads.) Not only that, he was able to look at history and examine the Holocaust through a different lens, while learning about diversity and how we treat one another. Thank you Ms. Morrison!

- The Roberts Family

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Morrison received two free movie passes.

Parent appreciates Morgan Wolfer’s warmth and kindness

Morgan Wolfer

Mrs. Morgan Wolfer is just what my daughter needed. This teacher loves my child and adores my child. She had a relationship with my child, not just as her teacher. She understood her and taught her how she needed to be taught. When Mrs. Wolfer had a baby over the summer, she took the time to let us know that her son and my daughter had the same birthday. I know that these words don’t sound terrific or overwhelming, but my daughter still feels the warmth that Mrs. Wolfer has already showed her. There have been so many great teachers, but I know Mrs. Wolfer was one of her favorites. She will be missed when my daughter moves on next year.

- Ryan Kim

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Wolfer received two free movie passes.

Everything Ken Yeatts does ‘is for the benefit of the students’

Ken Yeatts

This is my third year of Spanish in Mr. Yeatts’s class at Great Neck Middle School. He is always pushing me and my peers to do our best and strive for more. Everything he does is for the benefit of the students. He personalizes everything we do to make sure we feel comfortable and ready for any assessment. I really wanted to make sure that he knew that his hard work is appreciated and that I am a benefactor of all that he does.

Of all the teachers that I have had, Mr. Yeatts is hands down the best and more goal-oriented teacher I have had. I really believe that all of the hard work he puts into to teaching and educating students every day should be recognized and appreciated by all.

- Jackson Doane

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Yeatts received two free movie passes.

Adam Swindell ‘plans inventive lessons that make an impact’

Adam Swindell

I wanted to take a moment and honor a great teacher at Lynnhaven Middle School – Adam Swindell. Mr. Swindell teaches social studies, and he is a regular topic of our dinner time conversation. "Mr. Swindell said..." "Today in class, Mr. Swindell did..." "Mr. Swindell made us laugh when..." Mr. Swindell has figured out that half the battle to teaching kids is getting them to feel safe and comfortable in their learning environment. He plans inventive lessons that make an impact – enough to talk about them at the dinner table. From Breakout Boxes to class auctions to learning about land, his lessons are well-planned and impressive. He manages to incorporate changes in the learning environment, use technology, and keep the students active and engaged. When I asked my daughter what she liked best, she said "He makes every assignment really fun, and I learn so much." Thank you Mr. Swindell!

- The Roberts Family

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Swindell received two free movie passes.

Sunny Betancourt encourages students ‘to do their best and succeed’

Sunny Betancourt

Both of my girls had the privilege of having Mrs. Sunny Betancourt as not only their gifted resource teacher, but also their News Crew staff adviser. This is a woman who has had looked out for my daughters’ well-being at every pass. She listens and knows what each of them is/was capable of. She watched them; she mentored them; she knows their limits and presses them to them. Sunny cares greatly for not only my children but all of those she touches. They (We) are lucky to have someone like this rooting for them to do their best and succeed.

- Ryan Kim

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Betancourt received two free movie passes.

Student and parent are thankful for Norm Hassell

Norm Hassell

When my 16-year-old daughter, who struggles with math, comes to me and says, “Mom, I am thankful for Coach Hassell,” I stop and pay close attention. Coach Hassell is a co-teacher with Ms. Jennings at Kellam High School. Both teachers are extraordinary, but it’s Coach Hassell that has my attention. When he sees my daughter struggling with a lesson, he takes the time to sit with her and explains it until she understands. This is not the first time my daughter has sung the praises of Coach Hassell this school year. I would love for him to know what a difference he makes. I am forever grateful for him and the help he has given my daughter.

- Amy LeMoine

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Hassell received two free movie passes.

Erica Cleghorn and Louise Rymer ‘make kindergarten a wonderful experience’

Erica Cleghorn and Louise Rymer

My son started kindergarten this past school year. The first couple of days were a little rough of an adjustment for him being in a new place, with new faces and new teachers. But, he has thrived in this class. I truly want to thank his amazing teachers!

From the first time I met Mrs. Cleghorn I knew she would be an awesome fit for my son. She told us that she teaches with love and truly loves what she does, which is so true. I can see it in my son’s eyes how much he loves his teachers and what an impact they have had on him wanting to learn. He gets excited telling us about his new sight words, math, and reading. He loves learning and even has started teaching his little sister everything he is learning at home.

I feel like kindergarten is such a big step into a child’s future, and learning the foundation of their education. I love that my son loves to learn and participate. Mrs. Cleghorn has great communication with us as parents, even during snowstorms to keep our kids engaged. And I know Miss Rymer is such an awesome help in the classroom. I love her stories about something my son’s done or said whenever I come in to see him for lunch. My favorite is that they call him “the Mayor” in class.

These two teachers are absolutely wonderful and I’m so grateful to them both for helping make kindergarten such a wonderful experience for my son. They are so dedicated to their students and helping them grow.

Thank you Mrs. Cleghorn and Miss Rymer for being Great Teachers!

- Paige M. LeClear

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Matt Brown accepts, encourages and supports students

Matt Brown

When I heard about the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers campaign I knew I had to tell you about my son’s seventh-grade social studies teacher, Mr. Brown.

From the first day of school this year, my son has been excited to be in Mr. Brown’s class and to learn. Mr. Brown accepts my son for who he is and builds him up every day. Whenever I e-mail Mr. Brown concerning my son, he is always quick to get back to me and so helpful.

My son has never really wanted to be on a sports team, but to my surprise he tried out for wrestling since Mr. Brown coached it. He has learned self-confidence and has a new family of friends with his teammates, which brings tears to my eyes seeing my son fitting in and feeling wanted. You see, Mr. Brown helped my son get over his fear of getting hurt when wrestling, and pushes him every day to be a hardworking, confident young man, while holding him responsible for his actions.

Kempsville Middle is an awesome school because it has teachers like Mr. Brown making a difference and loving our children.

- Brandi Caudill

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Brown received two free movie passes.

Valorie Sankey ‘treats all of her students with love and kindness’

Valorie Sankey

I'm writing to tell you about the most amazing teacher at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School. Her name is Ms. Valorie Sankey, and she was my son's second-grade teacher last year. I am most impressed by the love and kindness with which she treats all of her students. I am a frequent volunteer at the school, and I often see Ms. Sankey offering hugs and words of encouragement to both her current and former students. In a busy world of tests, scores and assignments, Ms. Sankey finds the time to really get to know her students. I was amazed, when after a short week of working with my son, Ms. Sankey very accurately described to me what I knew to be exactly right about him as a student. My son often fondly described his teacher as having a special "teacher's magic."

Ms. Sankey's involvement in her students' quest to success does not stop in the classroom. She happily attends her students' extracurricular special events and performances. She was a welcome guest at my son's piano recital, and he was extremely proud to have his teacher attend.

Change can be overwhelming for any young student, and it was especially challenging for my son to transition into a new grade level from Ms. Sankey's class. Ms. Sankey helped him with this difficult transition, encouraging him to succeed in the new learning environment. She worked together with his current teacher to ensure a smooth transition, which was extremely important to his academic success. Ms. Sankey helped me advocate for my son's educational needs and this year even offered him a teaching opportunity in her classroom. Because of Ms. Sankey, my son has been inspired to become a teacher.

I can't say enough good things about her, and I'm so grateful that my son had the privilege of being Ms. Sankey's student.

- Nadejda Coonan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Sankey received two free movie passes.

Patricia Williams ‘is truly dedicated to her students’

Patricia Williams

I am writing to recognize Patricia Williams. She is currently teaching kindergarten at Arrowhead Elementary School. She taught my son when he was in first grade. Ms. Williams had a knack of knowing exactly when his focus was being tested and knew exactly how to bring him back. She was very patient with him and firm when needed. Because of her attention, he thrived. I believe one of the reasons he does so well in school today is because of how she taught him. Her concern did not just stop there; she always inquires on how he is doing.

Ms. Williams is not only an inspiration to my son, but everyone she teaches. She truly cares about her students. When they move on to the next grade, her concern does not stop. This is evident by the amount of students who continually stop by to say hi to her. You can ask a handful of older students and they will all say she was one of their favorite teachers.

I am also on the PTA board and she is the first to volunteer for any events we have. She is always having fun and does not volunteer because she has to but because she wants to. Whenever the music teacher has her programs after school, Ms. Williams is there to cheer on her current and former students. I have never seen another teacher who puts in more time at the school. When I go in the morning to help with things, she is already there starting her day. When we are there after school for meetings, she is just leaving. She is truly dedicated to her students. When I was in school I don’t remember a teacher being that involved.

She is a great teacher.

- Jeanne Heckman

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Williams received two free movie passes.

Jen Harrell ‘is a very loving person who cares about her students deeply’

Jen Harrell

The teacher I would like to recognize is Mrs. Harrell. She works at Landstown Middle School and was my eighth-grade English teacher. She now is a librarian at LMS. Out of all the teachers and staff members that I am close to, she is probably the one I am the closest to. She has made such a huge impact on me that will stick forever. She is always positive, even when times are tough. She encourages me to be my best and not to be hard on myself all the time. I know I can go to her whenever I have a problem. In fact, I am still in touch with her, even after three years since she taught me. I constantly give her a life update to let her know that she is still an important person in my life. She gives the best hugs, and her smile is contagious. Mrs. Harrell is a very loving person who cares about her students deeply.

Thank you for allowing me to praise one of my favorite people in the world, and I hope you consider her because she truly does deserves it, and it would make her happy.

- Bella Cabaccan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Harrell received two free movie passes.

Catherine Ennis inspires both students and parents

Catherine Ennis

Catherine Ennis has left a mark of a lifetime on countless students and families. She is that one special teacher who stays with her students way beyond first grade. My oldest child was in her class five years ago, and we are back in her classroom this year with my youngest. It isn’t unusual to overhear my children chatter about Ms. Ennis. I have heard my oldest say things like “You are so lucky you have Ms. Ennis.” “I remember doing that.” “Let me show you how even in sixth grade you will make connections and need text evidence.”

The name “Ms. Ennis” has been referenced in high regard not just in my house, but several others as well. I know firsthand multiple families who have been a part of her classroom community over the years. It isn’t just the children who have been inspired by her, but parents as well. One of her past parents was so inspired by Ms. Ennis, she decided to become a teacher herself.

Often, Ms. Ennis credits the parents for fostering learning, but she has been the foundation. She knows how to spark the curiosity of a 6-year-old and turn them into lifelong readers, learners and good citizens. She leads by example and is a lifelong learner herself. When she learned Chromebooks would be in her class this year, she excitedly started to research best practices on how to integrate this new technology. She did this on her own time over the summer. Which leads me to another point, she is constantly “on”—seeking ways to help her students reach their full potential.

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- a Red Mill Elementary parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Ennis received two free movie passes.

Christina Parker is an ‘awesome and dedicated teacher’

Christina Parker

I just wanted to say how awesome and dedicated a teacher Ms. Parker is at Bayside 6th Grade Campus. Out of all the teachers that has ever worked with my son, she is one of the only ones who has updated me and contacted me about my son's behavior and progress in school, whether good or bad, on a regular basis. She always lets me know if he needs to complete something or if he did a good job that day in class. I have definitely seen an improvement in my son this year especially in English, which was never a good subject for him. We definitely need more teachers like Ms. Parker and I think she deserves recognition for her dedication and compassion. She also took the time to send me a picture of my son on a field trip and I thought that was really awesome of her.

- Alyssa Austin

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Parker received two free movie passes.

Erin McCarthy ‘is passionate about reaching her children’

Erin McCarthy

Miss Erin McCarthy at Indian Lakes Elementary deserves to be recognized as a great teacher. Miss McCarthy is one of the most dedicated teachers I’ve ever had teach one of my children. She is passionate about reaching her children and she doesn’t stop trying to help them. Teachers like Miss McCarthy don’t come around every day and I can’t put into words how thankful I am that she is the teacher that is working with my son this year. She makes me feel like she is actually on my team and that we are working towards the same goal of helping my child be happy and successful in school. I will be so sad for my son to move on to middle school and no longer have her in his corner next year.

- Charity Carpenter

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, McCarthy received two free movie passes.

Tracy Coffin’s ‘enthusiasm and support is superb’

Tracy Coffin

I would like to nominate a very special third-grade teacher who always gives 110 percent every day she walks into North Landing Elementary. Tracy Coffin was born to teach. Her enthusiasm and support is superb! She continues to amaze me with everything that she does for her students.

When my son came home with a very important folder so he could have a student-led conference with his parents, my husband and I were very intrigued. He wanted me to go upstairs with him so he could find a quiet spot to have a conference about what he does at school. He laid out all of the papers that were in the folder and began reviewing each one thoroughly. He diligently reviewed every piece of paper from top to bottom. He took pride in his work and I believe it showed ownership of all his strengths and weaknesses. It was a springboard for us having a great discussion on what he needs to work on to improve. He gave me detailed examples of what he could do to practice his multiplication facts as well as help him summarize stories a little better. Mrs. Coffin went above and beyond preparing for this student-led conference. It was absolutely brilliant! As a parent, I know exactly where my son is both academically and socially. It was a perfect assignment that benefitted both the child and the parents. After our conference, he did the whole thing again for his dad. Again, he was so proud of himself. His self-esteem was through the roof. He felt like he was such a big kid given so much responsibility.

Tracy Coffin has taught all four of my kids. Every year that we have had her has been inspiring and motivating for my children. They all have very fond memories of things that Mrs. Coffin has done for them or has taught them. I guarantee that the student-led conference will be one of his fond memories from Mrs. Coffin’s class.

Thank you from Mrs. Coffin’s No. 1 Fan!

- Stephanie Lichty

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Coffin received two free movie passes.

Jennifer Thomas ‘makes everyone feel so welcomed and loved’

Jennifer Thomas

I’d like to tell you about one of my fabulous teachers at Salem High School. Ms. Thomas teaches ninth grade earth science. She is the most caring teacher I’ve ever had. She makes everyone feel so welcomed and loved and also cared about. She makes the classroom so much fun even when the lesson isn’t the funniest. I am incredibly grateful for Ms. Thomas. She has helped me overcome some academic and personal things in the last couple of months. She is honestly one of the best teachers in VBSchools.

- Hailey Slemmer

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Thomas received two free movie passes.

Lindsey Lewis is a ‘caring, genuine and thoughtful teacher’

Lindsey Lewis

My daughter has Mrs. Lewis for fourth grade at Indian Lakes. She wakes up every morning excited to go to school. I'm always impressed with how well my daughter can explain assignments and concepts to me each night. I credit this to Mrs. Lewis’ easy-to-understand instructions and her ability to explain topics in a way that relates to the kids. Our family is lucky to have such a caring, genuine and thoughtful teacher.

- Liz Crabtree

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Lewis received two free movie passes.



Erin DuBose ‘transfers her passion for teaching into wonderful relationships’

Erin DuBose

Ms. Erin DuBose, the new choir teacher at Plaza Middle School, has done so much in the short amount of time she has been part of the Plaza family. Recently, she gave the eighth-grade choir an amazing night with the band Foreigner. The kids got to sing on stage with the band at their sold out concert March 6. It was amazing! The kids participated in an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they will never forget. Everyone was so excited and it was a great time for both the kids and the parents. Some of our students were saddened to see their former choir instructor leave; however, Ms. DuBose has transferred her passion for teaching into wonderful relationships. It's been an honor to know her and although this is my little one’s last year at Plaza, I'm confident that the teachings that Ms. DuBose was able to share with her with last a lifetime!

- Cassandra Ayers

My daughter was one of 25 chorus students selected by Mrs. DuBose who got to sing backup at the Foreigner concert at the Ferguson Center for the Arts. What an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience! Mrs. DuBose entered a contest for the students to sing and not only did our students get to sing on stage to a sold out concert hall, but the band donated some of the proceeds from the concert to Virginia Beach schools. She definitely deserves recognition for this incredible student experience.

- A Plaza Middle parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Dubose received two free movie passes.

Kelly Harris ‘makes each day an unforgettable experience’

Kelly Harris

Mrs. Kelly Harris is an awesome first-grade teacher at Brookwood Elementary. She goes beyond her duties to take care of each of her students. She is very understanding and cares for each one of her students as if they were her own. She has won the hearts of each one of her kids and I strongly believe that this is the main reason why my son loves being in her class. She maintains constant daily communication with us parents about how they are progressing throughout the day and responds to our questions in a timely manner. She has motivated my son into reading at a second-grade level and makes each day an unforgettable experience. Keep up the great work, Mrs. Harris!

- Marlon Ramirez

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Harris received two free movie passes.

Lori Molodow inspires with ‘her positive attitude and incredible support’

Lori Molodow

My daughter was a new student to Cox High School last year. Lori Molodow reached out to my daughter with her positive attitude and incredible support. Mrs. Molodow encouraged her to join SCA and from there she was able to make new friends and become an integral part of Cox High School. Knowing that Mrs. Molodow was there for her gave my daughter the motivation to try new things and grow as a person. We can’t thank her enough for all that she has done.

- a Cox High School parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Molodow received two free movie passes.


Frances Mongin ‘truly loves children and has a passion for teaching’

Frances Mongin

I would like to see Mrs. Mongin from Lynnhaven Elementary School recognized. She’s a preschool teacher. She’s amazing. She truly loves the children and has a passion for teaching. She often uses her own money to buy supplies needed to make her classroom a fun place, while giving children a strong foundation for kindergarten. She also makes our SCA amazing.

- Wanda Knowles

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Mongin received two free movie passes.



Sherri Saxton and Phyllis Holloway treat students as if they are their own children

Sherri Saxton and Phyllis Holloway

Oh, where to begin with Ms. Saxton and Mrs. Holloway... I have seen these teachers turn their class into little princes and princesses. The beginning of the year came with the tough love that every child needs. They set the expectations for their students and pushed them to meet them. Every day they push these boys and girls to do better than the last time. They pick them up when they are down and treat them as if they are their own. They praise them all day for their accomplishments. They have taught my child it is OK to fail, to not be the best at everything and to overcome fears. If these two could stay with my child for the rest of her years in school I would be over-the-moon excited! Thank you for all that you both do!

- Nicole Begany

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Parents thank Carissa Sprague for changing their son’s life

Carissa Sprague

Mrs. Sprague at New Castle Elementary has changed our son’s life.

He has some struggles that have kept him from reaching his full potential. His transition to fourth grade was very hard for him and Mrs. Sprague recognized his struggles and stepped in. She came up with an action plan to keep him on track and maintains open communication with us.

Because of Mrs. Sprague’s hard work, dedication to her students and caring attitude, our son’s academics have turned around. He is aiming higher and trying harder than ever before. His self-esteem is so much better and he is a happier kid.

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Mrs. Sprague.

- New Castle Elementary parents

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Sprague received two free movie passes.

Jessi Heustis ‘always expects and encourages the very best’ from students

Jessi Heustis

Mrs. Heustis is my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher at Princess Anne Elementary, and I have rarely seen such dedication and commitment to a class of students. She never gives up on them, always expects and encourages the very best from them, and her patience is endless. She is always planning, preparing, creating, inspiring. She is always looking for new and interesting ways to present information to her class, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She is able to interact with them on their level and the results are amazing to watch. It is a classroom full of new ideas, curiosity, teamwork, innovation, friendship, support, learning and fun. My daughter is so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in this classroom every day. Mrs. Heustis has renewed my daughter’s love of learning and lifted her self-confidence. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Heustis, for making such a difference in the lives of these kids.

- Carrie Cooper

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Heustis receive two free movie passes.

Student’s ‘whole outlook on grades and school’ changed thanks to Melissa Murphy

Melissa Murphy

At Red Mill Elementary School I experienced so many amazing teachers, but one certain teacher that I had about four years ago changed me so much. Her name is Melissa Murphy. She would make me understand things in ways no other teacher did. Once, to remember the difference between plant and animal cells, we made cookies designing it the way a plant or animal cell would look like to show the differentiation. She would also talk to me one-on-one if she saw anything off. In the middle of my fifth-grade year, with her, my whole outlook on grades and school automatically changed, and my grades were amazing! In eighth grade I even typed a letter in keyboarding class to her because the topic was “a teacher who has made an impact on you.” I’m now a freshman at Kellam and my words may not mean anything but it’s worth a shot to get her noticed!

- Sarah Kozak

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Murphy receive two free movie passes.

Eva Dobak helps students ‘rise to whatever challenge she places in front of them’

Eva Dobak

Eva Dobak is truly an amazing teacher who brings European History to life every day at Green Run Collegiate. Her only goal is to help students understand what happened at another time is truly relevant today.

Here are just two examples of how she makes those connections: Students selected and researched historical figures from a given list. They then debated current topics from that person’s point of view and used historical fact to support their positions. Additionally, students identified current songs that had lyrics which best explained events of the enlightenment. Students were asked to explain the relationship and defend their selections.

Mrs. Dobak has students from a wide range of ability levels, but she makes a rigorous curriculum accessible to all of them. Her students are amazingly successful, they collaborate effectively, and rise to whatever challenge she places in front of them. They do this because she believes in them and makes it evident that she loves what she does.

This Great Teacher is allowing these students to realize their Great Dreams!

- Joe Burnsworth

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Dobak received pizza discount coupons.

Betty Tecson helps build ‘perseverance, responsibility and confidence’

Betty Tecson

As a military family, we’ve moved around quite a bit and our children have attended numerous schools. When we made our last move back to Virginia Beach, our sons started at Princess Anne Elementary. Our two boys are polar opposites of each other. One thing they shared in common though, was being lucky enough to have Ms. Tecson as their fourth-grade teacher.

My older son did not adjust well to moving between schools and while he worked hard to try to keep up, his grades suffered. With Ms. Tecson’s patience and unwavering encouragement, we were able to identify where the disconnect was for my son and get him the extra help he needed to catch up. He is now an honor roll student at Princess Anne Middle School. I firmly believe that Ms. Tecson’s support in fourth grade was the catalyst for him to reach that success.

My younger son had no trouble with the transition between schools and by the time he reached Ms. Tecson’s class in fourth grade, he had been a student at PAES for a few years. He is extremely inquisitive and always has a million questions. Instead of squashing that (there’s not enough time in the day for all of his questions!), she encouraged him to really think through each question he had and pick the most important and relevant ones to ask. He also had a tendency to rush through his work. Again, instead of seeing it as a negative, she helped him come up with strategies to slow down a bit and make sure his work reflected his abilities.

By taking the extra time to find ways to bring out the best in my boys, not only did she help them find ways to succeed in their schoolwork, but she set the foundation for important character traits like perseverance, responsibility and confidence. Ms. Tecson will always hold a special place in our hearts for being an amazing teacher.

- Annie and Pete Good

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Tecson received pizza discount coupons.

Joyann Drumm ‘brings the best out of her students’

Joyann Drumm

As I drove by Kempsville Elementary’s marquee I noticed that the most deserving person is the Teacher of the Year. She was my daughter’s third-grade teacher. My daughter is now in sixth grade and still talks so fondly of her. My daughter thrived in her class. It was her best year. Mrs. Drumm really takes the time to know her students and accepts that they are all different and have different personalities. She brings the best out of her students. She truly embraced my daughter for the loud, wild, fun person that she is, and I am so grateful to her for that. I think Ms. Drumm deserves to be Teacher of the Year every year! She really made a difference in her life.

- Kristin Pryor

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Drumm receive two free movie passes.

Nicole Olds ‘is the most inspiring teacher’ student has ever met

Nicole Olds

Mrs. Olds is the most inspiring teacher I have ever met. She has inspired me to always look on the bright side to every situation. She always comes in with a positive attitude even if she had a rocky morning. She always finds a way to put a smile on my face, whether it’s from her silly jokes to her comforting me when times are hard. She is always willing to help me out with anything that I need. She is always eager to help each individual student to succeed and achieve their goals. As she always says, “Grades matter,” and since then, I made sure to put my all into my school work. Her words made me strive for success and never look back. I couldn’t have achieved my goals without her. Thank you Mrs. Olds!

- Alyssa Gabbert

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Olds received pizza discount coupons.

Student says ‘Heather Powers-Carasella will always be my favorite teacher’

Heather Powers-Carasella

Ms. Powers is absolutely an amazing ninth-grade English teacher. She will always be my favorite teacher. The amount of work she puts into helping us learn inside and outside of the classroom is phenomenal. She is not one of those teachers who sees you in class and then you're old news to her; she is the one who cares about you and wants to be there for you and help you in any way she humanly can. I am still able to go and talk to her, and I'm not even a ninth-grader. You don't even have to know her. She just has a wide open heart for anyone she crosses paths with. Ms. Powers is one of the ones who has inspired me to become a teacher. I hope that one day I can be as good of a teacher as she is. Thank you for being the most amazing teacher ever!

- Taeghen Robinson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Powers-Carsella received pizza discount coupons.

Sandra Doyle ‘makes sure each child in her class feels special’

Sandra Doyle

Let me tell you about Mrs. Doyle. This second-grade teacher is what dreams are made of. She goes above and beyond to help children of any learning style learn and love to learn. Once your child is a part of the "Doyle Desert" they are always part of her class. She is always welcoming students to stop in and say “Hi.” She makes a point of making sure each child in her class feels special. Mrs. Doyle is the type of teacher you will remember well after your school years are over.

- Amber Arnspiger

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Doyle receive two free movie passes.


Student thanks ‘legend’ Jim Wilkes for making transition to college much easier

James Wilkes

In three years of Latin, Mr. Wilkes pushed me and helped me better understand the language. Showing up for his class every day was great because you knew you were in for a lot of laughing and learning. I am now a freshman in college taking French and because of Mr. Wilkes’ determination to make sure we take as much as we can from the class, it has made the transition so much easier. There’s no other teacher in my last 12 years of school that could come in day in and day out and make everybody smile all while giving us interesting and new ways to learn the language of Latin. Mr. Wilkes is a legend of Princess Anne High School. I hope to visit him in the future to let him know how much of an impact he had on me.

- Zachary Cannon

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Olds received pizza discount coupons.

Kathleen Holbert is ‘one of the greatest teachers’ student has ever had

Kathleen Holbert

Mrs. Holbert at Landstown High School is one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had in my high school experience. Not only does she ensure that you are able to do your work in class, but she makes sure you are mentally OK, too. Furthermore, Mrs. Holbert is a great educator and gives each student the information they need to pass her calculus classes. Overall, she is a delight as a teacher and a pleasant example why I love the Virginia Beach public school system.

- Jason Petty

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Holbert receive two free movie passes.



Christina Mink-Adkins and Kelly Farmer are ‘two heroic teachers’

Christina Mink-Adkins and Kelly Farmer

I would like to celebrate the amazing achievements of two heroic teachers who do the hardest job in the world. Ms. Adkins and Ms. Farmer at Princess Anne Middle School use behavior science mixed with a whole lot of courage to support some of our most needy and tricky kids. My son has absolutely blossomed because of the thoughtful programming of the STEP program.

The consistency, kindness and patience of these educators and their team has supported his academic and emotional progress. He is now filled with hope for the future.

They should be celebrated every day.

- Erin MCarthy

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, each teacher received two free movie passes.

Carol Macdonald ‘brings passion, love and joy to the classroom’

Carol Macdonald

I would like to nominate Salem High School Biology Teacher Carol Macdonald for the Great Teacher recognition as she is an overall outstanding, fun and inspiring teacher. She's always bubbly and full of life. She smiles and always welcomes us into her classroom where there's also super interesting things to look at that relate to her subject. For instance, she has real life exhibits such as animals (bugs!) and a plethora of tiny, individual plants that grow in her classroom. What's neat about this is she literally shares those small, individual plants with students who can later take home as a gift.

Her passion for biology is not only evident in the detail she gives to her "living" classroom but is also evident in the manner in which she teaches. Mrs. Mac doesn't just lecture and talk. She tells detailed stories full of imagery that relate to biology and are often humorous, which is great because kids love to laugh.

Mrs. Mac often leads her classes with labs. These are awesome because they are hands-on and make topics easier to understand by providing concrete examples. Her room and the way she teaches has a very relaxed and calm approach that makes the subject easy to understand and much less stressful compared to other classes and teaching styles.

Overall, Mrs. Mac stands out from all my teachers because I enjoy her class and look forward to attending and participating in her class every B day. There's simply no one like her who brings passion, love and joy to the classroom which is then shared and mirrored onto her students.

- Abby Fedorowicz

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Macdonald received pizza discount coupons.

Kelly Bunting ‘truly wants all her students to succeed’

Kelly Bunting

My daughter has always had a difficult time in school throughout the years. When we relocated to the area last summer, I was extremely nervous all the changes would just make things even worse for her. However, very quickly those fears subsided. Ms. Bunting was able to make an immense amount of progress in just a few short months of my daughter being in her class. She was able to find very specific and individualized strategies to help my daughter grow tremendously. She is always extremely kind and patient with not only my child, but every student she comes in contact with. She truly wants all her students to succeed, and I am so grateful she is my daughter’s second-grade teacher at Rosemont Elementary!

- Megan Davis

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Bunting received two free movie passes.



Beverly Stemen creates student excitement for reading

Beverly Stemen

I wanted to write and tell you about a great teacher that my son had in third grade. Ms. Stemen taught him at Arrowhead Elementary School. Up until Ms. Stemen’s class, my son was a good reader but he didn’t like to read. We tried everything to find what would interest him but he just saw it as a chore. I believe that reading is the fundamental building block the rest of his education. If he likes to read he will have an easier time with other subjects.

When he got to Ms. Stemen’s class you could tell she had a vested interest in getting him to like reading. She got to know each student personally and find out what their likes were. One common interest was the love for “Harry Potter” along with the majority of the class, so she made a lot of their lessons around “Harry Potter.” I saw him start to want to read. Also, when she assigned Achieves to the students, she assigned what she thought would interest them and get them excited. I saw my son’s scores exceed where he was just average prior. He was actually excited to read. Ms. Stemen also made sure she got to know her parents. I have never thought I was bothering her and if there was anything she was concerned about, she would reach out to me immediately. I always knew were my son stood in class which was such a relief to me.

When I am at the school I always see Ms. Stemen’s old students stop by to see to her. It is because not only has she made an impact on my son but also on other students. She still continues to check on him and how he is doing. She did not just stop once he left her class.

She deserves to be recognized because she is a true asset to Arrowhead Elementary.

- Jeanne Heckman

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Stemen received two free movie passes.

Charisse French and Kriss Holland are a ‘dynamo duo’

Charisse French and Kriss Holland

Mrs. French and Ms. Holland are a fantastic team that have transformed our son like we couldn’t imagine. He enjoys going to school and learning. Our son is on the spectrum and this dynamo duo took the time to talk to the other kids about autism and he, for the first time, has peer relationships! Mrs. French also communicates daily with us about his day, his success stories and sometimes the times where he’s having a hard time. They have made this school year very successful for our son!

- Beth Knightes

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, French and Holland received free movie passes.

Colleen Rowan impressed parents as a first-year teacher

Colleen Rowan

My husband and I would love to nominate Miss Colleen Rowan who was my daughter's second-grade teacher. We first met Miss Rowan as a student teacher when my daughter was in first grade at Centerville Elementary School. When my daughter received Miss Rowan as a second-grade teacher, we were skeptical at the time knowing were getting such a young teacher right out of college but were wrong in the end. Miss Rowan gave us exactly what we were looking for in a teacher. She was a great communicator, had terrific organization skills, a no nonsense teacher and, of course, a lot of fun at the same time. To this day, my daughter talks about how she enjoyed Miss Rowan's class.

As parents, we are so happy that our daughter received Miss Rowan as a teacher. She turned out to be an excellent teacher and the "best fit" for Centerville Elementary.

- Jennifer and Sean Henahan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Rowan received two free movie passes.

Jennifer Mechling makes world history fun and interesting

Jennifer Mechling

My son had Jennifer Mechling for tenth-grade world history at Salem High School. She made the class fun and the material interesting. World history was my son's best class last year, and I have no doubt that having a great teacher like Jennifer Mechling was the reason.

- Ken Bolden

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Mechling received pizza discount coupons.





Nicholas Tempest ‘always puts his students first’

Nicholas Tempest

Mr. Tempest, at John B. Dey Elementary School, is deserving of the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers recognition because he always puts his students first. He lets students choose their own paths to demonstrate their learning, provides a lot of flexibility and adapts to each learner in his classroom while balancing all of this with firm limits and high expectations. My son loves going to school and talks about Mr. Tempest after school and what he has learned each day. This is because Mr. Tempest makes learning exciting, establishes genuine relationships and takes time to figure out what each student enjoys.

I am very thankful for Mr. Tempest and his dedication to his students!

- Danielle Colucci


Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Tempest received two free movie passes.

Jordan Pacitti ‘truly considers the whole child in her classroom’

Jordan Pacitti

I would like to nominate Mrs. Pacitti at Centerville Elementary to be recognized by Great Dreams Need Great Teachers. Mrs. Pacitti is not just our son’s fifth grade math, science and social studies teacher she is so much more. Mrs. Pacitti has taken the time this year to truly consider the whole child in her classroom. Mrs. Pacitti ensures that our son is not only provided the tools to successfully succeed academically, but she always makes sure she is available to listen to him and provide emotional support and coping strategies. Our son comes home on a regular basis and tells us how happy he is to have Mrs. Pacitti as his teacher because he really feels like she cares about him and she listens to him when he talks to her. She also goes above and beyond outside of the classroom to reach out in the evening to check on our son if he may have not had a great day. Mrs. Pacitti always empowers our son to have a positive day and do his best. Mrs. Pacitti is one of the best teachers at the Beach and we are lucky to have her as our son’s teacher!

- Natalie Meiggs

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Pacitti received two free movie passes.

Mariana Crocker ‘is committed to the well-being of all her students’

Mariana Crocker

Ms. Mariana Crocker at Arrowhead Elementary School is a great teacher. She communicates with us about any issues in the class and follows up as needed. Through this correspondence, it is apparent that she is committed to the well-being of all her students. Regular communication between parents and teachers is fundamental to students' success.

- Mike Neudecker

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Crocker received two free movie passes.




Scott Kamholtz inspires students to be mindful of health and fitness

Scott Kamholtz

We would like to nominate Mr. Scott Kamholtz, PE and health teacher at John B. Dey Elementary. Both our boys have adored his class and him for years, especially the athletic challenges. However, this year the additional focus on nutrition and getting stronger has motivated them even more and beyond their sports. He is probably the most oft-quoted person in our home. Things like: “Mr. K says you should have lot of different colors on your plate,” and “Make sure to check the nutritional information,” or “Is that a good or bad fat?” and “Is that a healthy choice?” fill our kitchen and our home now from our boys and not just us. They also think and talk about fitness and practice their situps and pushups at home before doing any kind of digital activity. As parents, we like to think we offer good options and balanced meals, but they have been even more conscious about making wise choices and taking ownership for them. We are thankful to Mr. K., as the kids fondly call him, for inspiring them in both health and fitness for their life (and not just in class). We appreciate his efforts.

Angela and Kyle German

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Kamholtz received two free movie passes.

Carolyn Hedrick ‘motivates middle school learners to achieve greatness’

Carolyn Hedrick

Carolyn Hedrick, at Great Neck Middle School, has provided top-notch instruction to my son in her algebra honors class and has motivated my son to do his best and set higher goals for himself in the area of mathematics. She volunteers her time to tutor before school and makes herself available to her students to help them achieve success. She has great relationships with her students, and they know when they are in her classroom they are going to learn.

I am very grateful for all she does to deliver meaningful instruction each day and motivate her middle school learners to achieve greatness. Ms. Hedrick is an amazing teacher!

- Danielle Colucci

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Hedrick received two free movie passes.

Guy Liuzzi is an enthusiastic, kind, funny, respectful teacher

Guy Liuzzi

I want to take a minute to express my gratitude for a fantastic teacher at Independence Middle School. My son is a sixth-grader who was fortunate enough to be assigned Mr. Liuzzi as his social studies teacher. In my son's words, "Everyone who has Mr. Liuzzi agrees. He's the best teacher. Seriously."

Mr. Liuzzi shows so much enthusiasm and energy. He clearly loves to teach and that really makes kids love to learn. Middle school is rough, so having a teacher who is kind and funny is just such a bright part of their day. Plus, he treats his students with respect while still maintaining his authority in the classroom – that’s a real skill. He doesn't shy away from tough subjects or tough questions. He is very genuine and thoughtful and expects great things from the kids. My son has now decided that he wants to teach someday.

He's an amazing and inspiring teacher and we're really thankful that our son is in his class.

- Kristen Sutherland

Liuzzi received a gift certificate to Pulcinella Italian Restaurant donated to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Lindsey Recine ‘is the most dedicated, phenomenal teacher’

Lindsey Recine

Mrs. Recine is a third-grade teacher at Glenwood Elementary school. My daughter has attended school there since kindergarten. Mrs. Recine is the most dedicated, phenomenal teacher I have ever encountered at any school level. She decorated her room at the beginning of the school year that created such a positive learning environment. Since school has started, she makes sure to inform parents regularly of everything that they are learning in class that week. She even sends us pictures of the projects. As a working mother, it has been so great to be able to engage in conversations with my child about her day because Mrs. Recine keeps us updated on all the learning/events. This fall, Mrs. Recine lost her father. She had to leave town on an emergency. Mrs. Recine sent everyone a note that the children would have a substitute and that she had to leave town. During the time she was gone, she constantly was keeping informed with her substitute and relaying information to us. Even in such a tragic moment in her life, she still made sure to be 100 percent involved in communication. This completely amazed me at how dedicated to teaching Mrs. Recine is. She puts in the long hours at school, whether it is staying late to accommodate parents for conferences, PTA events or prepping for awesome learning experiences. Mrs. Recine gives more back into education than is expected. She definitely deserves to be recognized for being a great teacher. Please recognize the difference she makes in our community, school and classroom!

- Heidi Dindial

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Recine received pizza discount coupons.

Parent appreciates Deleyah Holly’s patience and constant communication

Deleyah Holly

Ms. Deleyah Holly is the best. She patiently helps my daughter with her reading issues and constantly keeps me informed of my daughter’s progress. What an amazing teacher!

- Alberic Mareus

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Holly received pizza discount coupons.






Leanne Criscitiello ‘is the epitome of a relationship-builder’

Leanne Criscitiello

As teachers, we all know the saying, "You can't teach them if you don't know them." Mrs. Leanne Criscitiello, a seventh-grade English teacher at Bayside Middle School, is the epitome of a relationship-builder. Every time I enter her class, I instantly want to sit down and watch her magic. She is a magnet for warmth and caring, not only for her students, but for her peers as well. Her students know it and feel it, too.

During a recent conversation with my advisory group, several students said to me, "We really believe she cares about our future and us as people." There are amazing teachers at Bayside Middle School, but Mrs. Criscitiello is a model for us all. I've been teaching since 1987, and each time I am in her presence she teaches me something new about relationship building.

- Sue Schneider


Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union, Criscitiello receive two free movie passes.

Kathy Verrey and LaQuetta Verrey show patience, care and support in pre-kindergarten

Kathy Verrey and LaQuetta Verrey

I would have to say my daughter has two awesome teachers for pre-kindergarten, and they deserve the world and back. I would love to recognize Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Verrey. They have been very patient with her. They work with her so much and they have so much concern and care for her. They have so much information and their communication is the very good. They both are very supportive of my daughter and I appreciate everything they have done for her.

- Corrine M. Heeraman

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Verrey and Porter received pizza discount coupons.




Rachel Thompson has ‘taken PE to a whole new level’

Rachel Thompson

I am writing today to share about a truly Great Teacher at Old Donation School.

Rachel Thompson joined Old Donation School for the 2017-2018 school year as the department chair for exercise science/health and physical education. Mrs. Thompson and her team have taken PE to a whole new level this school year. From the integration of the Scratch Cooking Initiative into health classes to the XLLR Program, Mrs. Thompson keeps the focus on wellness and expanding the reach of physical education.

In the fall, the PE department held an "Amazing Race" day of competition for the middle school students. This already logistically-challenging day was made more challenging by inclement weather. The event quickly shifted inside and went off without a hitch due to the extensive and thoughtful planning by Mrs. Thompson and the PE team. The department also began monthly long-runs that require coordinating parent volunteers along a long course path and students running the course throughout the day. Teachers and staff have even been seen running along with their students as the school community works towards improving wellness.

At about the same time, Mrs. Thompson and the department teamed up to lead the Top Chef competition, integrating healthy cooking menu planning into the Scratch Cooking Initiative. The program culminated in a Top Chef special menu day where students prepared their designed menu for students, staff, and visitors.

In addition to these two specific examples, Mrs. Thompson enthusiastically partners with groups like the PTA for programs such as a Fun Run and the Shamrock race events. These certainly take time out of her busy schedule, and her insight, support and valued contributions make events run smoothly.

Mrs. Thompson's contributions to the Old Donation School community expand far beyond the exercise science/health and physical education department and her role as the department chair. Mrs. Thompson models leadership, a sense of adventure, and truly embodies a Great Teacher with Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

- Kimberly Strassberger

Thompson received a gift certificate to Pulcinella Italian Restaurant donated to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Becky Bates ‘is nurturing, kind and enthusiastic about learning’

Becky Bates

I would like to thank Becky Bates, an incredible fifth-grade teacher at Shelton Park Elementary.

We moved to the area midyear last year, so my son started in fifth grade at an odd time. Coming from out of state, my son knew no one and didn't feel confident that he would be able to jump in academically as well. He had nothing to worry about because he was fortunate enough to have Mrs. Bates as his teacher.

I could say so many things about her – she’s nurturing and kind, enthusiastic about learning, and she truly cares about her students and their success. But what struck us most is how discerning she is. She immediately made an effort to really see our son, to really get to know him. She provided so much wisdom and excellent advice for his education. My son began to really look forward to going to school. He has always done well academically, but he started to also just feel happy being at school. He felt supported, and her positive attitude and kindness made a world of difference to him.

Talking with other parents and being in the classroom last year, it was so obvious that Mrs. Bates is equally invested in each of her students, seeing them as individuals and helping to steer each one to success. Her enthusiasm and commitment was inspiring and it made such a difference to our whole family. She is an amazing teacher and an asset to any student lucky enough to be in her classroom.

- Kristen Sutherland

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Bates received pizza discount coupons.

Meghan Mathews ‘offers love, acceptance and grace’ to her students

Meghan Mathews

I would like to nominate Mrs. Meghan Mathews, a special education teacher at Glenwood Elementary School. Mrs. Mathews does not work or serve for awards or accolades, but simply to inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day. She has mastered the elusive art of being firm but fair, having rules yet maintaining relationships, and keenly remembering that though she teaches numerous content/subject areas. She is really teaching children whom she freely offers love, acceptance and grace.

She has been my daughter’s teacher for the past 2.5 years. I cannot give her enough praise. She truly goes above and beyond to help her students achieve their goals. My daughter has gained so many skills both socially and educationally.



- Judy Moyer

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Mathews received pizza discount coupons.

Tonia Waters ‘helps students dream big’

Tonia Waters

Tonia Waters is among the most dedicated teachers I have ever met...not just to those that she teaches, but to all students in Plaza Middle School and to those who she has taught in the past.

Tonia has devoted her career to those who struggle and need an advocate. Whether she is helping students get organized in the “binder hospital” or organizing and running a summer program to support the academic success of African-American males, she knows that all students can achieve with the right support and the knowledge that people believe in them. She even stays in touch with her former students who have moved on to Green Run High School. It is not unusual to find her sitting in the stands supporting her former students who participate on a Stallion sports team or in the audience of a play or concert.

Tonia Waters is an amazing educator who spreads love, joy and her faith in the power of education to everyone she meets. She helps students dream big and sets them on the path to achieve them.

- Joe Burnsworth

Waters received a gift certificate to Pulcinella Italian Restaurant donated to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Angie Sullivan ‘is definitely a one-of-a-kind teacher’

Angie Sullivan

Ms. Sullivan deserves to be recognized as one of the great teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. My daughter is a kindergartner in her class this year. Ms. Sullivan goes over and beyond what is required for a teacher to do for her students and parents. She communicates daily with her students' parents though Seesaw and takes extra time out of her busy schedule to post photos and videos of students' work so that parents are aware of what is being learned in the classroom. Ms. Sullivan often posts additional resources on Seesaw for her students after school hours and weekends, which shows how much she cares for her students even during her time off. My daughter comes home smiling every day and loves school because Ms. Sullivan teaches students using techniques that are not only fun, but techniques that really work in helping students remember what is being taught. Ms. Sullivan is definitely a one-of-a-kind teacher who makes parents feel at ease when sending their child to school every day. Thank you, Ms. Sullivan, for making my daughter’s transition to full-day kindergarten so smooth. I appreciate all that you do.

- Cora Kasse

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Sullivan received pizza discount coupons.

Students love Susie Davis’ ‘eccentric personality and wondrous glow’

Susie Davis

I have known Susie Davis for a short amount of time, but I am happy to say that she has made such a huge impact on my life. As my AP European History teacher at Princess Anne High School, I have enjoyed her interpretations of historical events and our class discussions on issues in the past and present. My love for her is everflowing and abounding, to such an extent that I consider her not only my favorite teacher but my best friend. She understands perspectives and views of all kinds and I look up to her for that. Her students love her eccentric personality and wondrous glow. I want her to know through this that everyone appreciates her and her hard work does not go unnoticed. I will never forget her when I graduate this year.

- Valencia Lagbo

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Davis received pizza discount coupons.



Jonathan Duggan teaches students that ‘being good is a choice, being great takes a sacrifice’

Jonathan Duggan

Jonathan Duggan is in his fifth year as director of bands at Bayside High School. The BHS Band Parents Association, BHS BPA, has long known of his desire to see his marching band participate in a marching competition that required charter bus travel and/or an overnight stay. He simply wanted his students’ “marching world” to expand so they could witness the musical and drill performances of other bands. He wanted them exposed to bands outside of Virginia Beach and other Chesapeake/Norfolk high school marching bands that they continually see at all local competitions. He wanted them inspired beyond their known marching band horizons. His dream, and what became his students’ dream, was to be a part of something bigger than themselves at a new, bigger venue.

That dream became a reality in November 2017 when the Marching Marlins and Marlinettes participated in Cary Band Days in Cary, North Carolina. Thanks to multiple fundraising efforts and prudent planning, the students and chaperones were able to charter a bus and stay overnight. As an interesting side note, Cary Band Days is an event Mr. Duggan himself marched in when he led the marching band of Kempsville High School as drum major in 2006.

Making great dreams happen for students as individuals is also something Mr. Duggan embarked upon after the Marching Marlins’ last competition, Cary Band Days. For students pursuing All-District Band positions, he offered individual practice sessions every morning at 6:30 a.m. That standing offer lasted for six weeks. Now that’s dedication…and early in the morning, too!

On the band’s Instagram page, the students who run the site have one of his motivational zingers from summer band at the top: “Being good is a choice, being great takes a sacrifice.” It seems his desire for something more for them has been internalized; now that is a bona fide paycheck for a teacher! His influence reaches beyond the classroom, too, as students talk to him about their life outside of school and they value his opinion. He is a mentor to many.

We are thankful for his leadership in the classroom, find it an honor to serve his student, and feel complete joy watching him interact with his students.

- Michelle Brotemarkle, Becky Foca, Paula Kubovchik, Michelle Lewis, Arlene Johnson and Shannon Kein

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Duggan received pizza discount coupons.

Joli Kane ‘is always full of energy’ and keeps students smiling

Joli Kane

I think you guys should honor Joli Kane at Kellam High for being an amaazzzzingg teacher. She makes learning things fun, she is always full of energy and ready to actually engage in the lessons with my fellow peers and me. Mrs. Kane never comes in class without a smile on her face and no matter how you feel when you walk in her class, she will have you smiling before the end of the period.

- Destiny Battle

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Kane received pizza discount coupons.



Jim Leland ‘has a great heart and is a very strong support system’ for students

Jim Leland

My son is in Mr. Leland’s sixth-grade science class at Salem Middle. He always tells me how fun his class is and how Mr. Leland is constantly engaged with all the children and making class fun. Mr. Leland has a very positive attitude and is very supportive of my son and that says a lot. There needs to be more teachers who are like this; he has a great heart and is a very strong support system. This is what children need when they are away from their parents.

- Trechelle Monroe

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Leland received pizza discount coupons.



Rachel Thompson is passionate about Spanish, PAHS and her students

Rachel Thompson

I would like to bring attention to Rachel Thompson at Princess Anne High School. I have always been involved at some level in my kids' schools for over 20 years now. Over the years it's easy to recognize a teacher who is a maverick within their league of outstanding adults. Ms. Thompson is passionate about her topic: Spanish. She is passionate about PAHS. She is especially passionate about her students. She has as much energy for the first class of her day as she does for the last class. We must find a way to clone her and that energy which she brings to her classroom!

I especially appreciate Ms. Thompson's interaction with seniors in being a sounding board for setting realistic expectations as these young people navigate their way through the last year of high school. She reminds students to not overstress – they absolutely will get into some college, and reminds her students that if they ever need to talk she is available to them.

I am very glad my daughter has had the opportunity to have Ms. Thompson as a teacher. Her exuberance has furthered my daughter's interest in pursuing not only Spanish but potentially other languages.

- Sharen Richardson

Thompson received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Alexis Martin ‘is a great teacher and a truly genuine person’

Alexis Martin

I am writing to you about Mrs. Martin who teaches fourth grade at White Oaks Elementary. My daughter has always had trying times during the school year with focusing, staying interested and enjoying learning. This is the first time in over five years my daughter has not had any trouble at all and is excited every single day to go to school and see her teacher. Mrs. Martin is a very sweet and caring young lady who is a great teacher and a truly genuine person. Not only is she caring and nice but she is involved with each of her students and makes them all feel important. She is amazing at respecting and communicating with all of us parents. She also goes above and beyond to help each and every one of her students. She teaches an inclusion class and you'd never think it was any different than any other class because of how great her class operates. For a teacher in her first year of teaching, she is truly commendable and doing a superior job. Ms. Pitchford, who also assists Mrs. Martin, is another tremendous teacher who is an integral part of how great this year's class truly is. It's thanks to teachers like this that help kids gain a love for school and learning they never thought they could have!

- Jessica Simpson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Martin received pizza discount coupons.

Emma Williams ‘has created a warm environment in which her students consistently find success’

Emma Williams

Many people in Virginia Beach do not know of the great work happening at the Virginia Beach Career and Technical Education Center. Not only are the teachers at the Tech Center seasoned educators, they are skilled professionals in their represented industry working diligently to provide their students with the tools necessary to meet industry certification requirements and, in some cases, pass state board exams to obtain their licenses to work in their chosen field. Encompassing all the district requirements as well as covering trade requirements can be overwhelming for most; however, Ms. Emma Williams has created a warm environment in which her students consistently find success.

Ms. Williams teaches cosmetology, which goes beyond polishing nails and fluffing hair. She treats her students professionally as if they were in a salon. On Thursdays and Fridays, the general public can come in and have services done by her students, and one definitely gets the feel of being in a high-end salon. Her students respect her and listen. This is quite evident as you watch her move about the chaotic room, where every student is working on something different. One may be cutting hair, another working on a manicure, one attempting a facial, and yet someone else attempting a waxing. Many seasoned teachers have a difficult time working with one skill in a classroom. Imagine a classroom where students are all working on different skills. Throughout the session her name can be called 50 times over, and she effortlessly manages to get around the room helping each student perfect the techniques of each skill and continuously builds confidence.

Students don’t just look up to her for her professionalism. They respect Ms. Williams to trust her with their problems and concerns. They seek out her advice from school matters to life matters. Ms. Williams finds a way to lend a compassionate ear. Many of her former students stay in contact with her still seeking advice or sharing their accomplishments within the industry.

Take one look at Ms. Williams walking the halls at the Tech Center, and you will immediately recognize the face of cosmetology.

- a Tech Center parent

Williams received a gift certificate to Pulcinella Italian Restaurant donated to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Beth Neydon is committed ‘to the lifelong pursuit of finding the best in our students’

Beth Neydon

Twenty years ago, I walked into Mrs. Neydon's science classroom. I was awkward, unsure, and uneasy in my skin, but I was curious about the world in which we live. While I remember little about the content of my class (a life pursuing English will do that), I remember excitement and joy, but better and more importantly, I remember feeling seen. For a girl on the fringes, smart but nervous and shy, Mrs. Neydon's awareness of my interest propelled me to new ventures. With her encouragement, I applied to the then Math and Science Magnet School at Ocean Lakes High School, which shaped my life and vision for my future so much so that I now teach at my alma mater.

What I know to be true, however, is that my life was not the only life touched by the influence of this great teacher. In my time at Ocean Lakes, I have met some vibrant former Salem Middle School students. I always mention Mrs. Neydon to them as we bond over our shared middle school, and without fail, their eyes light up and something akin to “I love Mrs. Neydon” falls out of their smiling mouths. I have heard many stories of helping with science lab prep and encouraging words urging students to pursue big dreams. As she said in an email exchange last year, teaching is "about encouraging young people to make this mark in the world and to find their passion." She surely did that for me.

What else can we want in our educators but a commitment to the lifelong pursuit of finding the best in our students? I, for one, am grateful for the hand Mrs. Neydon had in shaping my life and changing its trajectory. Twelve-year-old me should have told her more often how special she was to me. My adult self is doing that now.

- Katie Anderson

Neydon received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Spectacular teachers like Molly Robinson ‘are few and far between’

Molly Robinson

I want you to know how amazing the staff at Providence Elementary is, and we're glad our children are able to attend such a great school. My son’s third-grade teacher, Molly Robinson, was spectacular! Ms. Robinson believed in him even when he didn't believe in himself. She kept encouraging him and never made him feel like less of a student. We worked hard with him at home but he was still having issues.

We worked together as a team to come up with strategies to help him succeed. She was receptive, kind, and communication was always open. With her and Dr. Manigo's help to get him in the right direction, my little man is now in the fourth grade. His reading score was so low at the start of the year, below 100 if I remember correctly, and he finished with a 377. I have that amazing teacher to thank for that and the wonderful support staff at Providence. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it's true. We trust these educators with our children daily to help guide, motivate, educate and enrich their lives.

Ms. Robinson has true passion for her job, and it shows in her work. She cares for each of her students and wants what is truly best for each individual child. She has the fortitude to see when there is a problem and works to rectify it. When I received my son’s report card at the end of last school year, I started to cry. To see where we started – the possibility of retention, and to see how well he finished with promotion to fourth grade, I was overwhelmed.

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- Whitney A Campbell

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Robinson received pizza discount coupons.

Nada Langlands and Mia Blaine give young learners a positive start in school

Nada Langlands and Mia Blaine

My oldest daughter is in seventh grade now. In kindergarten, she had Ms. Nada Smith Langlands and Ms. Mia Blaine. Together, those two teachers were unstoppable and they instilled in her, at that young of age, how important learning is and how far you can go. She loved to go to school, never missed a day and always came home with something she could not wait to tell me.

I requested for my other daughter, now in fifth grade, and my son, now in third grade, to have these teachers for kindergarten as well, and all three have continued to be successful academically and with their extracurricular activities. I'm thankful every day that Ms. Langlands and Ms. Blaine gave my kids a love for learning and got them off to a great start in life, and I cannot wait to see how far they go.

- Kristin Jackson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, both teachers received pizza discount coupons.

Alex McConnell is a 'teacher, friend and mentor to many kids'

Alex McConnell

At Kempsville Middle we have an amazing teacher who deserves to be recognized. His name is Mr. McConnell, and he is the orchestra teacher, friend and mentor to many kids. He goes far beyond what is "expected" and you can tell he really enjoys being a teacher and the kids love him too. It's like a family when you join orchestra. He spends many hours after school teaching kids a little extra if they ask and always answers emails quickly.

- Sara Robb

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John's Pizza, McConnell received pizza discount coupons.



Tricia Campbell 'is the most patient and caring teacher'

Tricia Campbell

Mrs. Campbell from Tallwood High School is the most patient and caring teacher I know. She is always excited and ready to dive into art! Mrs. Campbell is always asking her students how they are and what is going on in their lives. She is very friendly and open to talking and helping you. Mrs. Campbell is art herself.

- a Tallwood student

Campbell received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.



Parent appreciates the dedication of Charlotte Brunswick and Andrew Stark

Charlotte Brunswick and Andrew Stark

My child has received a tremendous amount of support academically and emotionally throughout her duration at Seatack. I am overwhelmed with the amount of support she has received from both of her teachers.

Her third-grade year was challenging. Mrs. Brunswick was very knowledgeable of her needs and attentive to her on all levels. I've had a many of conferences, phone calls, text messages, emails and additional practice work sent home for my child. I truly cannot thank her enough for the efforts she put forth toward my daughter's success. She is an asset to Seatack Elementary. My child continually wants to learn and grow with her despite her progression to the fourth grade. Not only has my child learned a lot along the way, I too can accredit my knowledge of the curriculum and teaching techniques to this wonderful teacher. Her dedication to education is astonishing.

Mr. Stark has also been amazing this school year. His promptness and open-door policy makes me feel that I've made the right decision in my child's education. I would like to thank the two of them for all that they do and have done Monday through Saturday. I would also like to thank Mr. Darby, Ms. Williams, and all others for their support also. It is my hope that this year will be the most successful for my child, given all hands on deck. I appreciate all the staff at Seatack for keeping my child safe, supported and, most importantly, educated.

- Breanna Lockhart

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John's Pizza, Brunswick and Stark received pizza discount coupons.

Nora Petrie is student’s No. 1 cheerleader for success in math

Nora Petrie

My son is in Mrs. Petrie’s sixth-grade math class at Salem Middle School. He has never been strong in math, but since he has been in her class he has gained so much confidence, and she is always his No. 1 cheerleader to root him on. He speaks so highly of her and says that her math class is more than just a learning experience, but it is also a fun experience as well.

- Trechelle Monroe

Petrie received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.



Bobby Howell is ‘enthusiastic and caring’ teacher who makes students feel important

Bobby Howell

We would like to nominate Mr. Bobby Howell at Three Oaks Elementary School as a truly great teacher. He taught my fifth-grader two years ago when she was a third-grader at Three Oaks. He is so enthusiastic and caring as a teacher. She looked forward to school every day. Even the following year, he remembered her birthday and would always speak to her in the hallway. He made her feel important and helped her learn and be successful in the classroom. He is the "bar" she now holds all other teachers to!

- Jennifer Mechling

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Howell received pizza discount coupons.



Joanna Whitehead helped student ‘come out of his shell and thrive’

Joanna Whitehead

My son had Mrs. Whitehead as his second-grade teacher at White Oaks Elementary. My son has always been a very quiet and shy child. Mrs. Whitehead worked with my son and made him feel comfortable enough to come out of his shell and thrive in not only her classroom but his following classroom as well. She works so hard with her students to make sure they're not only learning and staying up to date, but actually understanding and remembering it, too.

Mrs. Whitehead was always amazing at keeping in touch with the parents of her students via email and phone (if needed) and always took extra time to help her students as well as meet with parents one-on-one, whether it was to discuss concerns, talk about future assignments or create a plan for that student. My husband and I could not say better things about Mrs. Whitehead and we recommend her to anyone looking for an amazing teacher.

Mrs. Whitehead is a perfect example of a teacher who was meant to be a teacher, as well as a teacher that not only students, but parents could hope for. We will always be very appreciative of Mrs. Whitehead and all she did and does for not only our son and his fellow students, but the VBCPS system as well.

- Lia Rudon

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Whitehead received pizza discount coupons.

Amy Hinton is ‘a strong, respectful, positive educator’

Amy Hinton

My daughter and family were blessed to have Mrs. Hinton for fifth grade. As the last year of elementary school approached, fear, worry and excitement were some of the feelings going through our heads. My daughter got assigned Mrs. Hinton for her last year at Indian Lakes Elementary. She was a new teacher there but not new to teaching, so we were not sure what to expect. We went in for Open House and I just knew that she was going to be an amazing fit for my daughter.

Mrs. Hinton is the best fifth-grade teacher in Virginia Beach. I’m not sure if my daughter or myself would have made it through that year without her. She always went the extra mile for my daughter. When she needed more to challenge herself, Mrs. Hinton gave her more. My daughter had motivation and drive to learn more and be a better person. Mrs. Hinton saw that in her and nurtured her intelligence. She believed that if my daughter's mind wasn't growing she wasn't doing her job.

Teachers don't get enough credit for all they do. They pave the way for the future. They spend more time with our kids then we do. My gratitude is overwhelming for Mrs. Hinton. It definitely takes a village to keep these kids on the right track. My daughter thinks the world of Mrs. Hinton and looks up to her. She told me she wanted to be a math teacher like Mrs. Hinton and help kids learn to love math. Mrs. Hinton definitely made a lasting impact. She always pushed my daughter to new limits and made her think outside of the box, which now has opened the door to greater possibilities – none of which would have been possible without a strong, powerful, respectful, positive educator like Mrs. Hinton.

- Amanda Selkirk

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hinton received pizza discount coupons.

Lisa McGlone ‘exudes love, compassion and empathy for her students’

Lisa McGlone

Ms. Lisa McGlone teaches first grade at King’s Grant Elementary School. My daughter is now a junior in high school and had Ms. McGlone so many years ago at King’s Grant. At the time, my daughter was new to the school and didn't know anyone. Ms. McGlone was a breath of fresh air who loved on my daughter and made her feel so welcome. When she needed extra help, she had no problem giving her extra attention. She was so encouraging and helpful and such a joy to have as a teacher – both for my daughter and for me as a parent.

So why am I writing this letter almost 10 years after we have had her as a teacher? Because she still reaches out to check on Olivia and see how she is doing. She hosts get-togethers every year, at Chuck E. Cheese’s, for former students so she can see how they have grown and matured over the years. She loves teaching – not just for teaching though, for molding and shaping young people. She doesn't forget her children even 10 or 15 years after teaching them.

She exudes love, compassion and empathy for her students. She often purchases things for her students (clothing, food, etc.) when they are in need. Honestly, I can't think of another teacher more deserving.

- Devon Shanor

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, McGlone received pizza discount coupons.

Rebecca Swisher is ‘kind, loving and goes above and beyond for all children’

Rebecca Swisher

This year I have the pleasure of having my daughter in Rebecca Swisher’s class at Rosemont Forest Elementary School. She's an amazing teacher. She's kind and loving. She goes above and beyond for all the children in her classroom. I make copies for her so I'm in the room quite often, and her teaching style is just amazing. I've seen her down on the carpet on the kids’ level teaching them math. She even has a kindness board where if she catches a student being kind, they write their names on a sticky note and put it on the board. At the end of the week she pulls names to pick something out of the prize box that she stocks up with goodies she buys. Mrs. Swisher in my eyes is the perfect example of a Great Teacher.

- Colette Benko

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Swisher received pizza discount coupons.

Debbie Seth ‘is very passionate about the kids’

Debbie Seth

Mrs. Seth, a fourth-grade teacher at New Castle Elementary is an awesome teacher. Based on previous experience, I haven't seen a teacher like her. She sends email to parents every Monday to keep them informed about what they are learning in class. She is very passionate about the kids and wants them to be successful now and also become great leaders in future. Good job, Mrs. Seth.

- Eunice Ezenwa

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Seth received pizza discount coupons.




David Holland ‘has truly made an impact on all of his students’

David Holland

Mr. Holland has truly made an impact on all of his students. You can feel his passion for social studies as he teaches and talks with his students. He is always open to offering extra help for those students who are struggling and never hesitates to answer any questions. He often finds fun and interesting ways to relate AP United States Government to current events, which I find extremely helpful in understanding the topic.

Mr. Holland was more than willing to act as my senior project inside advisor, even though he had only known me for two weeks. I immediately saw his enthusiasm and knew that I had chosen the perfect teacher to guide me throughout my project. As my advisor, he has provided both motivation and support for all of my ideas.

All of his students would agree that he is without a doubt the definition of a great teacher.

- Hannah McGowan

Holland received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Taryn Bailey ‘is a sincerely compassionate and dedicated teacher’

Taryn Bailey

I would like to take the time to acknowledge a Thalia Elementary School third-grade teacher, Ms. Bailey. She is a sincerely compassionate and dedicated teacher. Earlier in the year, when an incident happened with one of her students, Ms. Bailey was genuinely concerned. She contributed great effort into rectifying the situation. Ms. Bailey is truly an honorable person and teacher.

- a Thalia Elementary parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Bailey received pizza discount coupons.




Parents are grateful for Susan Hale’s dedication, patience and determination

Susan Hale

As the parent of a son on the spectrum, I could never express the gratitude we feel for the angel in our lives, Mrs. Hale. She is dedicated to our son and works with him as if he was her own. He is in her second-grade inclusion class but he also had her last year as she moved up grades with him. She is like his other parent, she is so patient and determined working with him and with us. We are in close communication at all times and she is always willing to try our ideas as we are hers. She goes above and beyond and we would like her to be recognized for her efforts. I wish she could be his teacher until he graduates!

- Kelly McMoran and Lori Verity

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hale received pizza discount coupons.

Debbie Field’s ‘love for her students is amazing’

Debbie Field

Mrs. Field is patient and kind. Her love for students is amazing. She is consistently working with my son despite various challenges. I appreciate the communication, consistency and willingness to work with us. Looking forward to ending the year strong with Mrs. Field.

- Paulette Thomas

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Field received pizza discount coupons.





Joy Josker shows compassion for students and a passion for music

Joy Josker

I would like to nominate Mrs. Josker, a music teacher at Centerville Elementary, as a Great Teacher. Mrs. Josker has many qualities that make her great but one of the best is her compassion for her students.

My son is in his second year of chorus. This year he was selected for a vital role in the winter music program. As the program date approached, he became more nervous about his performance. Sensing that he was having some anxiety, Mrs. Josker asked if he could stay after school so she could work with him to overcome his jitters. I was so moved that she was willing to take her free time to help my son. She believed in him and in turn led him to believe in himself.

On more than one occasion, Mrs. Josker has gone in the cafeteria to lead the kids in songs while they wait for their buses. It keeps them entertained. The kids all love Mrs. Josker and are excited to sing with/for her.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is blessed to have Mrs. Josker as a teacher. I am so thankful that my sons have her as a music teacher.

- Melanie Boyle

Josker received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Leigh Guarin ‘inventive and creative’ methods make learning fun

Leigh Guarin

Mrs. Guarin, a second-grade teacher at Three Oaks Elementary, is an exemplary asset to Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Her methods are inventive and creative to cater to her students. She educates to the individual needs of each of her students in a way that makes learning fun and easily understood. Her communication with parents exceeds any expectations I have had with a teacher personally. She goes above and beyond for her students with her innovative ideas. My son is very fortunate to have Mrs. Guarin as his teacher.

- Lisa H. Richardson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Guarin received pizza discount coupons.




Julie Erwin makes her lessons and student adventures fun and engaging

Julie Erwin

I wanted to share the great work Julie Erwin is doing with the AVID program at Landstown Middle. My daughter is a three-year, proud member of the AVID nation there and has thrived. She is excited and passionate about AVID and this is due in large part to Mrs. Erwin who makes her lessons and the adventures she takes her students on fun and engaging. My daughter is reserved and quiet and has been able to comfortably step out of her comfort zone due to Mrs. Erwin and the support she receives. She has spoken to elementary counselors, participated in team building activities at the Adventure Park (something she shared with us that she would not have done had it not been for Mrs. Erwin), and will introduce herself to her teachers at the beginning of the year and shake their hand. This might not sound like a big deal for some kids, but for my daughter this is monumental. Her passion is so strong for AVID that she has decided she is going to continue with AVID throughout high school and make this her own “academy.” The AVID pride is strong in our household due to Mrs. Erwin and the wonderful things she does in her classroom. She is the epitome of a Great Teacher and we are so fortunate to have had our daughter with her in class.

- Rachel Anderson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Erwin received pizza discount coupons.

Aaron Popp ‘teaches, respects, cares and builds relationships’

Aaron Popp

I’m not sure where to begin. My son has always liked school. This year he loves school. He gets upset if he has an appointment and goes in late; he doesn’t want to leave early; he wants to miss zero time. Mr. Popp is the reason.

Mr. Popp has been a true professional, very dedicated and very heartfelt with his students this year. He’s always super diligent about getting back to me with even the most minute of things on ClassDojo. He has singlehandedly made my son love language arts, has made him into a reader and has given him more confidence than before. Thanks to his amazing teacher, he has done nothing but excel and climb higher and higher.

Mr. Popp teaches, respects, cares and builds relationships with not only his students but with the parents as well. My son has connected to him on a personal level and it’s been an amazing journey to watch so far. I can’t wait to see what else is to come. This man deserves all of the respect in the world. He’s such an asset to Indian Lakes Elementary School and to every single student he comes in contact with. Thank you, Mr. Popp. Thank you for making my son love what you’re teaching, thank you for your patience and drive. Thank you so much for being you.

- Jennifer Helms

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Popp received pizza discount coupons.

Stephanie Manny ‘is simply amazing’ and helps students shine

Stephanie Manny

My daughter is in third grade at North Landing Elementary. NLES is a wonderful school and she has been fortunate to have wonderful teachers every year. Her teacher this year, Mrs. Manny, is simply amazing. It is obvious that she loves her job and her students. She is truly happy to see them every day and greets them with a huge smile on her face. Her instruction is always cutting-edge, interesting and differentiated, which is not easy to do! Her classroom management is excellent and the students are incredibly engaged.

My daughter loves going to school every day and can’t wait to see Mrs. Manny. We will be so sad when the school year comes to an end and can only hope that she gets a teacher as wonderful as Mrs. Manny at some other point in her education! Thank you, Mrs. Manny, for being so wonderful and for helping my third-grader shine!

- Lisa Phillips

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Manny received pizza discount coupons.

Maria Hess ‘has a kind smile, undying patience and warm approach’

Maria Hess

I am a former Virginia Beach teacher along with my husband who taught in Virginia Beach Schools for over 30 years. For the last 13 years we have started a new cycle of experiences as grandparents to students in Virginia Beach Schools. Without a doubt, we feel that Mrs. Maria Hess in Newcastle is deserving of recognition.

I guess the fact that our grandson adores her is reason enough but our grandson’s parents are having the best interaction this year with this wonderfully-dedicated teacher. From the first week of school we noticed the attention to detail, the kindness and the competence with which our grandson was welcomed to second grade. Since my husband and I are proactive grandparents and occasionally help with our grandson’s schooling, we cannot help but notice the consistent expertise and effectiveness that Ms. Hess showers her class with regularly.

We see her every Thursday while we go have lunch with our grandson and consequently, we have the opportunity to see Ms. Hess interact with all her students. She always has a kind smile, undying patience and a warm approach to all of them. Academically, our grandson is flourishing and has exceeded all our expectations already this year. In my view, all these points of excellence make Mrs. Hess worthy of recognition and reward.

- Lydia Pace Workman

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hess received pizza discount coupons.

Christina Hodges ‘has great interaction and communication’ with students and parents

Christina Hodges

I would like to nominate my son’s third-grade teacher, Mrs. Hodges, for being a great teacher. Since this school year, Mrs. Hodges has been very active with letting parents know how their children’s performances are, has great interaction and communication through the ClassDojo app, and also makes sure to send homework for the kids throughout the week. My son always speaks highly of her as well. He said she’s very friendly, allows them to be comfortable in the classroom, and is easy to talk to. He also mentioned she hardly ever gets mad at the class. After sitting with her for a parent/teacher conference, I was thankful to learn how great of a teacher she is. She was able to inform us of our son’s performance in school, behavior, as well as where he needs to improve, and I appreciated that. So, I would nominate her as a great teacher as I believe she displays characteristics of one very well!

- Jayamary Michael

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hodges received pizza discount coupons.

Adrienne Pucky makes ‘each and every class enjoyable and intriguing’

Adrienne Pucky

For the past three years, I have been in advanced orchestra, taught by Ms. Adrienne Pucky. In the years I have known her, she has shown her aptitude as both a violist and an orchestra teacher, striven to ensure her students do their best and learn the most, and made each and every class enjoyable and intriguing. Her capabilities as both a teacher and a friend have pushed me to become more involved with Tallwood's orchestra, putting in more time after school to learn another instrument, participate in the Orchestra Leadership Organization, or even just talk to Ms. Pucky about school.

Ms. Pucky is a truly excellent teacher, and certainly one of the best teachers I have ever had.

- Cegan Hinson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Pucky received pizza discount coupons.

Micki Blevins shows great patience with her kindergartners

Micki Blevins

I have two kids at Rosemont Forest Elementary School, one in first grade and one in extended day kindergarten (EDK). Last year my son was also in EDK and had Mrs. Micki Blevins. My daughter now has her for her EDK portion of the day. Without her last year my son would have never made it through kindergarten. There is no way he would have been prepared for first grade. She was so patient with him and is now patient with my daughter. She even would include my daughter when I had to bring her to help out in the classroom. She should be recognized. I am sure I am not the only family she has touched.

- Victoria Kelley

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Blevins received pizza discount coupons.

Kathleen Marshall makes ‘a great impact’

Kathleen Marshall

Kathleen Marshall has made a great impact on my son. Entering the fifth grade, my son was struggling. With her help and constant communication/feedback I watched my son grow into a different child academically. He is now in the sixth grade and receiving A’s and B’s so far. I owe most of it to her!

- Ashley Hill Manning

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Marshall received pizza discount coupons.





Tara Franke cultivates a love of learning and reading

Tara Franke

Our son is thriving in Miss Franke's fifth-grade class at New Castle Elementary. She is preparing him for middle school by providing rigorous instruction and cultivating a love of learning. Reading for pleasure has never been an interest for our son, but he's now more excited than ever to read books. He comes home and tells us all about what's happening in the books he's reading with his reading group. He's disappointed when he runs out of time and can't read on to find out what will happen next. In the past, we've tried to get him interested in various book series, such as “Harry Potter,” but he didn't show much interest. Now, he is eager to read Harry Potter because "Miss Franke loves ‘Harry Potter’ and has read the books six times." We are so thankful to have such an inspiring and dedicated teacher for our son!

- Chris and Jennifer Sturges

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Franke received pizza discount coupons.

Nicole Harris ‘pulls out the potential in each and every student’

Nicole Harris

Where do I start? Mrs. Nicole Harris, my son’s second-grade teacher at Princess Anne Elementary School, has changed not only my outlook on Virginia Beach Schools but she changed my son.

At the beginning of the second grade, I spoke with my husband and we were again contemplating private school. I walk into Meet and Greet and I am met by this lady with this huge grin. She walks up, shakes my hand, introduces herself to me, and hugs my son and introduces herself to him. We begin to talk and I expressed my concerns about my son. Mrs. Harris sits me down and said to me, “Mrs. Adams please don’t put him in private school. Just give me a chance with him and you will see PAES is an awesome school.” Mrs. Harris assured me she would keep me informed and up to date on everything. She vowed if she saw him slipping in anyway, my husband and I would be the first to know. From that day forward private school hasn’t been an option.

I have never met a teacher like Mrs. Harris. I got emails, texts, phone calls and she never let me down. Although she is a Green Bay Packers fan, she is the best teacher I have met so far. She is awesome with the kids and no matter what life curveball throws at her, the kids come first. I always knew what was going on and if/when my son had a bad day. I was always well informed. My son loves school and if he slipped anywhere, Mrs. Harris was on him. She knew how to work with him to get him where he needed to be and he enjoyed it.

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- Donna M. Millner-Adams

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Harris received pizza discount coupons.

Regina Cohen ‘has a smile that lights up a room and is so very sweet’

Regina Cohen

I would like to tell you about one of the best teachers my son has ever had. Mrs. Cohen was my son's third-grade teacher at New Castle Elementary. She would greet her kids at the door each morning and make sure they greeted her back. She has a smile that lights up a room and is so very sweet. You could tell she truly loved being a teacher. She is one of the few teachers my children have had that communicated all that was going on in the classroom and made personal calls instead of emails.

She made me feel a part of my son's third-grade year and that my voice counted as a parent and my son's as a student as well. I wish we could have kept her as a teacher and she will always be fondly remembered.

- Heather Hogan


Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Cohen received pizza discount coupons.

Michael Brown ‘is extremely dedicated to his students and their success’

Michael Brown

I would love if you could recognize Michael Brown at North Landing Elementary School as an example of a truly excellent teacher. Mr. Brown is extremely dedicated to his students and their success. He shows how much he cares about his students every day, and he motivates them to work to the best of their ability in everything they do. He also teaches them to have grit and to never give up when things get hard. My son is thriving in Mr. Brown's class and is excited to go to school every day because Mr. Brown makes learning fun. Mr. Brown also goes out of his way to communicate regularly with parents, and he takes time to call home, not just for negative things, but when a student has done something well. As a parent, it is a joy to have a teacher call home just to tell you your child has worked hard and has achieved. Mr. Brown is a positive force in his students' lives, and I am so grateful my son is being taught by such an awesome teacher!

- Randi Cohen

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Brown received pizza discount coupons.

Lisa Powers has a ‘unique, creative, forward-thinking teaching style’

Lisa Powers

Lisa Powers at Princess Anne Elementary is a gem. Ms. Powers is the most amazing teacher I have come across. She truly thinks outside the box and uses creative education to get through to even the most challenging students. I see a light in my daughter now that she has Ms. Powers.

Ms. Powers has a way of making education fun and engaging that my daughter didn't even want to miss school when she had to leave early one day. Ms. Powers uses flexible seating to allow the children more freedom and the kids love it. She teaches them how to be responsible in selecting assignments that best help them learn and in managing their time to get assignments done.

I have never seen a teacher quite like Ms. Powers. She truly has a gift for teaching and strives to find the best way she can to get through to the students to help them learn in a way that is best for each student. You truly have an amazing teacher in Ms. Powers, and I can only hope she can inspire other teachers to follow in her unique, creative, forward-thinking teaching style. I honestly cannot say enough about Ms. Powers from my personal experience and from what my daughter tells me from her experience at school. You have an incredible teacher who deserves recognition for all she does.

- Melinda Gay

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Powers received pizza discount coupons.

Rachel Green ‘inspires the true meaning of compassion, commitment and devotion toward her students’

Rachel Green

I want to express my gratitude to all the teachers who devote tireless hours, even beyond their call, to teach, help, inspire, nurture and influence not only my children’s lives but all scholars at their schools.

I will be forever marked by Mrs. Green’s kindness when she made sure to give me a call after dismissal and mentioned how my child became so emotional when they started a class novel study. My daughter was crying a lot and Mrs. Green comforted her, telling her it was OK to feel this way; it was normal. She also told her to trust the process and just give a little more time and to let her know in a couple of days how she was feeling toward the book. Mrs. Green’s keen intuition and amazing professionalism paid off. At the end of the book, Grace came home so vibrant and delightfully narrated how beautiful and powerful the book turned out to be. She positively challenged Grace to excel far beyond what I thought my child was capable of at that time.

Mrs. Green inspires the true meaning of compassion, commitment and devotion toward her students. She possesses a keen sense of understanding what her scholars’ individual needs are at any given time, not only academically but also emotionally. The way she teaches goes beyond her scope of work and she does it incredibly. Her influence has helped my daughter in so many positive ways.

I feel so blessed to have amazing teachers like Mrs. Green in our lives.

- Joanna Larsen

Green received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Parent will ‘forever be thankful’ for Stacee Nicholas

Stacee Nicholas

I would like to recognize Mrs. Nicholas, a fifth-grade teacher at Holland Elementary School, because she worked with my daughter last year to make sure she got the skills she needed to go into middle school. When things got hard, we both got together and realized that there was more going on than we knew. Mrs. Nicholas made sure my daughter’s IEP was in place before she started middle school, even coming into the school during the summer when she didn’t have to. For that, I will forever be thankful for her and her hard work as a teacher!

- Arnetha Jackson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Nicholas received pizza discount coupons.





Pre-kindergarten teachers Sherlisa Hicks and Elizabeth Cipolla ‘have a lot of patience and compassion’

Sherlisa Hicks and Elizabeth Cipolla

My daughter is 4 years old and is in the pre-K program at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School this year. Her teacher, Mrs. Hicks, and assistant, Mrs. Cipolla, have been very dedicated and hardworking with all of these 4-year-olds. We are always getting photos on ClassDojo and updates just about every day. I have two other children in school as well but I have never seen a team of teachers like I have these two wonderful ladies. They have gone above and beyond my expectations and I certainly hope they are recognized for it. You do have to have a lot of patience and compassion to teach a classroom of 4-year-olds. These two ladies deserve the recognition.

- Taryn Mize

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hicks and Cipolla received pizza discount coupons.

Kimberly Catt ‘truly cares about her students and their future’

Kimberly Catt

My 8-year-old daughter is in Mrs. Kimberly Catt's third-grade class at Trantwood Elementary. Mrs. Catt is the most wonderful, caring teacher I have come across yet. She is a teacher because she truly cares about her students and their future. My daughter is a smart girl but struggles a little in certain subjects. Mrs. Catt goes out of her way to help her and keep in contact with me about how she is doing. She sends assignments home on a regular basis (even though it's a no homework theory at Trantwood) for us to practice with Kylie at home. We can already tell a huge difference in her school work. I wish Mrs. Catt could teach her in fourth and fifth grade as well. We love her and hope she is recognized for her teaching skills. She cares about all of her students, not just my child. But I truly appreciate all of her help thus far this year.

- Jennifer Leffler

Catt received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Nikki Russell ‘challenges and motivates her students’

Nikki Russell

I would like to recognize Ms. Russell at Alanton Elementary School. She is amazing with teaching my son and she is great with her class. My son constantly tells me how patient she is with him when he needs a little extra help with his work and he is so happy he has her as his first-grade teacher. Ms. Russell challenges and motivates her students as well as uses methods to ensure that they are successful.

- Lyn Harold

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Russell received pizza discount coupons.





Margaret Dush partners with parent to help student reach full potential

Margaret Dush

I would like to recognize Mrs. Dush at Arrowhead Elementary School as a great teacher. My son was in her class last year for first grade. It was such a blessing to have her as his teacher.

Very early in the school year she recognized my son was having trouble with his reading and writing skills. She called me and we had a phone conference regarding these issues and what we could do to help him excel. We worked hard at home to help him improve and I know she worked with him in class. I began to see great improvement in my son's reading and writing.

Throughout the school year Mrs. Dush would give suggestions on areas of concern and we would tackle them. In addition, she was a great source of encouragement, not only for my son, but for me as well. It’s not easy seeing your child struggle, worrying he may be left behind. However, as I've heard Arrowhead Elementary school's Principal Ben Gillikin mention before, "No child left behind," Mrs. Dush demonstrated that with my son as she continued to encourage him and help build his confidence. Mrs. Dush didn't only focus on his weaknesses, she made sure to point out his strengths too. She also communicated very well with me, which gave me peace of mind and helped me understand how to help my son.

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- Marquesa Tutt

Dush received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Krystal Rastetter ‘cares about her students and encourages them to do better and be better’

Krystal Rastetter

I would like to tell you about an awesome teacher at Kempsville Meadows Elementary, Mrs. Krystal Rastetter. She has been an incredible addition to our family this year. Our daughter is in her first-grade class.

From the moment we were informed that Mrs. Rastetter was going to be our daughter’s teacher for this school year, she has been nothing short of AMAZING! She sent home a welcome card and emailed all parents about their child’s interests, likes and preferences. She wanted to get a good snapshot of her students before they ever entered her classroom.

During Meet the Teacher night, she had prepared a wonderful presentation for the families, goodie bags and folders for the kids and was as welcoming as could be. Throughout these past few months she continues to show how much she cares about her students and encourages them to do better and be better. She does not let her students settle for anything less than their best.

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- Tara and Thomas Cooper

Rastetter received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Michael Cress ‘has totally transformed my son’s attitude toward school’

Michael Cress

Mr. Michael Cress at John B. Dey Elementary School is a fantastic teacher and has totally transformed my son’s attitude toward school. My son complained every morning about going to school, until this year when Mr. Cress became his homeroom teacher. Mr. Cress has inspired my son to want to learn, and my son comes home most days and tells me something new that he has learned that day. Last year I used to get a sullen "nothing" when I used to ask him how his day at school had been, now there is always a story about what they have been doing. Mr. Cress is great at encouraging the boys and being clear and fair with them. He reminds me of a sports coach - very positive, encouraging but you do not mess about with them.

I feel very grateful that my son has this wonderful teacher at his school.

- Louise Blunt


Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Cress received pizza discount coupons.

Mary Hawley ‘provides both teachers and students with the power to dream big’

Mary Hawley

We want to nominate Mrs. Hawley at Trantwood Elementary for a Great Dreams Need Great Teachers recognition. Mrs. Hawley provides both teachers and students with the power to dream big as she supports those dreams with integrated curriculum and gifted lessons that stretch all of the students’ minds that she encounters in a day. We absolutely love the way that Mrs. Hawley seeks out ways to praise and encourage kids as she designs lessons and plans that create intrigue and interest in ideas and subjects beyond the curriculum. As the gifted teacher for Trantwood she pushes in classrooms and helps everyone in that class, not just those identified, as she addresses varying levels of learning. My son has benefitted from having her teaching since kindergarten and we absolutely love how she has supported his learning.

The icing on the cake is that she also is the co-leader of the STEM club and that is the day in the week my kid looks forward to most because he knows he will get to spend time with her and design awesome robots. I asked my son why he wanted Mrs. Hawley to get this kind of recognition and his simple answer was,“She is super nice and awesome!” I think that says it all as to why she deserves this recognition.

There are a lot of teachers out there but Great Teachers possess a little something extra and that is something Mrs. Hawley possesses 110 percent!

- The Adams Family

Hawley received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Carolyn Walker provides an ‘inviting, engaging, fun and safe environment’

Carolyn Walker

My daughter is in Mrs. Walker’s second-grade class at Princess Anne Elementary. My daughter has trouble with transitions and anxiety with starting a new school year. From the initial Back to School night through now, Mrs. Walker has continually provided a comfortable, inviting, engaging, fun and safe environment for my daughter and her classmates. My daughter loves going to school and is doing well, and I contribute much of this to Mrs. Walker.

- Beth Clark

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Walker received pizza discount coupons.






Robin Sawyer sparks students’ interest in music and creates lifelong musicians

Robin Sawyer

My wife and I have been working for the Virginia Beach City Public Schools division for over 25 years. My three children have attended VBCPS schools since 2005, and still do. My wife and I have worked with hundreds of teachers. My children, combined, have had close to 100 teachers. We have been very fortunate. Every teacher my children have had has been impactful in many ways. This division has amazing teachers who work hard, build great relationships with students, and do everything they can to take my children's dreams from good to great.

One teacher who has stood out above the rest and has had a huge impact on my kids is the amazing Great Neck Middle School Orchestra Teacher, Robin Sawyer. Ms. Sawyer started at Great Neck during my middle child's eighth-grade year. My son liked playing the violin but never had a huge passion for getting better at it. When Ms. Sawyer came on board at Great Neck she immediately sparked my child's interest in not just playing the violin but also to take his playing from good to great. Because of Ms. Sawyer, he practiced more, he started taking private lessons, he played for The Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra, and he currently is in his third year of playing violin at his high school. Without Ms. Sawyer's spark, I don't think he would have kept with it. Because he stayed with it his grades and his violin playing have both improved.

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- Timothy P. Sullivan

Sawyer received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Sky Noon and Peggy Paulenich ‘make students feel loved and accepted’

Sky Noon and Peggy Paulenich

My daughter is in fifth-grade at Rosemont Forest Elementary and has a team of great teachers. Mrs. Noon and Mrs. Paulenich go above and beyond to make the students feel loved, accepted and, most importantly, help the students to grow and learn in ways that allow them to not only express themselves but explore self-discovery. My daughter is excited about learning, has discovered more about herself as a learner and an individual, and has blossomed with confidence. We couldn't feel more blessed that she has these teachers this year Thank you for all that you do!

- Christine Lewis

Noon and Paulenich each received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Parents are thankful for Barbara Dell’s communication and high expectations

Barbara Dell

I just want to say that Mrs. Dell is an amazing teacher. My son enjoys her class so much. He has a great deal of fun and learns so much. His reading has gotten so much better, and he gets so excited about the color chart and to see what color he will get at the end of the day. I also have to say I really enjoy that when I do speak with her she explains everything that is going on with Hayden at school. She doesn’t make me feel in the dark about him, what he is learning and his behavior. I also like that she always answers any questions I may have. I like that she actually sets up the parent teacher conferences so that we know what our kids are doing. She is a very caring person and a great teacher. I’m so glad my son has her as a teacher this year.

- Elizabeth Carlton

Teaching is truly Mrs. Dell’s calling and it is very clear she loves every moment of it. She recognizes small nuances for every child and activities are adapted for them. For example, my son is extremely particular about everything, so to encourage his writing she let him choose his topics. My son found his passion for learning and I could see his imagination grow. He was not allowed to slack and was challenged with his work. She set high expectations for him and this gave him a goal to reach while producing high quality work. Her classroom is warm and inviting as well. I am truly thankful for her every day!

- An Arrowhead Elementary parent

Dell received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Megan Wilson ‘makes Latin enjoyable for our young learners’

Megan Wilson

I would like to nominate Ms. Wilson, a Latin Teacher at Old Donation School, as a Great Teacher.

I have to admit, when my daughter decided she wanted to take Latin, I wondered if she would enjoy it and if she would thrive. We owe a great thanks to Ms. Wilson who has made it her absolute favorite and best-graded subject. Ms. Wilson has a very consistent way of breaking Latin down into small enough sessions so it is not overwhelming, all the while delivering a great deal of content and deep thoughtful reflection about the language, the time periods and the people.

My daughter loves to come home and form Latin sentences and make connections to our English language and prefixes. She cannot wait to take Latin II and enjoys the work.

Thanks, Ms. Wilson, for making Latin so digestible and enjoyable for our young learners.

- Jennifer Finger

Wilson received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Catherine O’Malley, Lyndsay Hamby and Jamie Arnett make learning fun

Catherine O’Malley, Lyndsay Hamby and Jamie Arnett

My son says Mrs. O’Malley is a great teacher. She makes everything fun and he wants to learn when he’s in her class.

My daughter says that Mrs. Hamby is a great teacher. She jokes and laughs, and my daughter wants to learn when in her class as well.

And of course Mr. Arnett is always a great teacher. My daughter had him in sixth grade and both of my kids know they can go to him if they need anything.

- Jennifer Romine

Thanks to campaign sponsor Papa John’s Pizza, all three teachers received pizza discount coupons.

Edgar Jumper ‘inspires his students to be on the cutting edge of learning’

Edgar Jumper

My daughter was lucky enough to be in Mr. Jumper's class in first grade and now is with him again for her last year at John B. Dey Elementary. Mr. Jumper's innovative teaching techniques, especially his knowledge of and integration of technology into the classroom, inspire his students to be on the cutting edge of learning and empower them to go out and find the information they need to complete assignments using the technology available.

Mr. Jumper tailors each assignment to his students' interests, strengths and learning style preferences, ensuring that they are excited about and engaged in the entire learning process. I have seen my daughter wake up before her alarm in the morning to get in extra reading time, spend her free time after school researching topics online that were discussed during school just for fun, and generally just be excited about learning and going to Mr. Jumper's class each day.

On top of his obvious talent for engaging his students, Mr. Jumper shows them that there are no boundaries to what they can achieve. When students to see an adult in a wheelchair who is still able to do most everything that they're able to do and who doesn't use his handicap as an excuse to achieve less, they see that anything is possible and that difficulties shouldn't hold them back.

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- Mary Grace

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Garcia received pizza discount coupons.

Katie Bozard ‘is the teacher we all hope our children have’

Katie Bozard

I don’t have enough kind words to say about Ms Bozard! She has an amazing capacity to care for each of her students in their own way.

My best example is how much she cares for my daughter who is extremely bright and excited about learning. In order to give my daughter the attention she would like to with other students sometimes needing her attention more, she gave my daughter a “bright idea journal” that she can write down things she’d like to share with Ms. B and they can pass it back and forth. For a teacher who has a class of students plus her own children to think about to be so considerate and thoughtful blew me away!

Ms. Bozard is beyond a great teacher. She’s the teacher we all hope our children have.

- Claire Czahor

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Garcia received pizza discount coupons.

Student comes home from Yvonne Garcia’s class ‘full of excitement and with a big smile’

Yvonne Garcia

It’s truly hard to pick one teacher to nominate as a great teacher from each of my children’s schools since they are all committed, caring, compassionate, hard-working professionals.

My daughter is a fast-paced learner and needs to be constantly challenged. Mrs. Garcia, at Ocean Lakes Elementary, has taught her how to be more patient and gradually refined her social skills, which is no simple endeavor. My daughter was so motivated when she started earning her “sand dollars” for positive behavior.

With Mrs. Garcia’s dynamic teaching ways and enthusiasm, she also helped my daughter get interested and curious in learning with the school’s “personal computer.” She tells me it’s her own computer and she is so careful with it: “I carry it inside class walking very slowly holding tightly with both hands!” My daughter now wants to do math on Clever/TenMarks all the time on her home tablet to hear different monsters each time she moves up the different levels.

We feel so lucky to have gotten Mrs. Garcia this year. My daughter loves her class from start to the end of the day and is never bored. She only has positive things to say and always comes home from school full of excitement and with a big smile.

I feel so blessed to have amazing teachers, like Mrs. Garcia, in our lives.

- Joanna Larsen

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Garcia received pizza discount coupons.

Jenny DeLashmutt ‘is a shining example of a teacher who cares about the students’

Jenny DeLashmutt

I am writing to let you know about a more than great teacher at Trantwood Elementary, Jenny DeLashmutt.

My son practices Taekwondo. Part of the requirement to be accepted for testing is he must bring a paper to be completed by his academic teacher. The teacher is asked to rate a few things such as his attitude, if he does his work in class, etc. All of the answers are listed and the teacher is asked to circle the answer that best fits the student.

My son tested for Taekwondo in October and again in December. When Jenny DeLashmutt returned his paper for October, I had tears in my eyes. She not only completed the paper with all of answers circled “excellent,” she attached a letter to the instructor. The letter was in great detail with specific examples of how my son is a wonderful student and it made me so proud. Not only that, but I was touched that she cared so much to take the time out of her busy schedule to not just circle the answers. She wrote a letter that was not required and listed so many examples about my son’s character and behavior in school.

In October, when I turned in my son's testing paper, his Taekwondo instructor informed me that in his 20-plus years of instruction, my son was the first student to have a teacher attach a letter listing details of how amazing a student was. Yes, my son did and is all those things; however, she was the reason for the letter. She wrote it. She was the teacher to care so much to write it.

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- a Trantwood Elementary parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, DeLashmutt received pizza discount coupons.

Stephanie Austin has ‘a smile on her face, a positive attitude, grace and compassion’

Stephanie Austin

I tell anyone who will listen how wonderful my son's teacher is and now I get the chance to tell you. My son attends Princess Anne Elementary School. His amazing teacher is Stephanie Austin and his amazing assistant is Barbara Miller. My beautiful and extraordinary son has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. He is completely non-verbal, does not self-feed and is not potty trained among many other behavioral challenges. He is almost 11. He has been in Mrs. Austin’s special education class from kindergarten through third grade. This will be his last year in her class and it is terrifying for me to even think about him with anyone else.

Stephanie's love for the children in her class and dedication to their success is above anything I have experienced. She takes the time to try and figure out how to meet my son’s needs both academically and functionally. She goes out of her way to make it happen. She gives up her lunch break to feed my son. She works hard to potty train him. She made a chair at home so he would stop flipping himself backwards, among 1,000 other things that make a difference in my life and his life. Beyond working on functional and social skills, she sets academic goals and expects him to achieve them – and believes that he can. Mrs. Austin has made the past five years unbelievably wonderful. All this with a smile on her face, a positive attitude, grace and compassion. Simply said, we love her!

You know you have an amazing teacher when she not only teaches you, but teaches you to love learning.

- Michelle Groneck

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Austin received pizza discount coupons.

Ian Morrison respects students and makes science captivating

Ian Morrison

By a landslide, Mr. Morrison is definitely the best teacher my son has had since he began his middle school years at Great Neck Middle School.

The characteristic that Mr. Morrison has, besides teaching excellent learning skills and making science captivating, is that he respects the students. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t have a bad mood, and he doesn’t put down the students.

He is definitely an amazing teacher who is capable of reaching the students and making them love science!

- A Great Neck Middle parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Morrison received pizza discount coupons.

Parent is grateful for Coleen Bonney’s ‘extra special’ gift for teaching

Coleen Bonney

My child attends Alanton Elementary School. Last year she had a teacher, Mrs. Coleen Bonney, who helped turn my daughter around academically. In the beginning of the school year my daughter was just OK in reading and was worrying me to the point where I was going to seek a tutor. I spoke with Mrs. Bonney and she told me that there was no need to go that way, let me work with her. I was hesitant to do so, but my husband and I put our faith in Mrs. Bonney. The second half of the year Samantha improved so, so much. Mrs. Bonney not only improved my daughter’s reading, but also her self-esteem. We are so thankful for that Mrs. Bonney was her teacher and we will so ever be grateful for that.

Some teachers are good, but some just have the gift that makes them extra special, and I’m here to say Mrs. Bonney has been truly blessed with this gift.

- Becky Slater

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Bonney received pizza discount coupons.

Charlotte Schulte helps student to thrive and love learning

Charlotte Schulte

My daughter is thriving in school this year like she never has before. She is doing well academically, and even more importantly, she loves going to school! My daughter has never liked going to school. Learning didn’t come easy for her, and she found school to be difficult – until this year. The difference? Mrs. Schulte (at Linkhorn Park Elementary) has changed my daughter’s life.

When her dad asked her what she was most looking forward to over the weekend, she said, “Going back to school on Monday!” She says that Mrs. Schulte makes learning fun so that “learning doesn’t feel like work; it just feels like having fun!” Each day when the kids leave she says, “Love ya!” And I think she truly does love them, and they feel it in a way that makes them excited to get back in the classroom each day.

I found a card in my daughter’s room that she made for her teacher. It says: “You are the best of the best of all teachers. I am not kidding! I do not say stuff like that to regular boring teachers. Can you ask Mrs. Sessoms to keep my class the same next year? Seriously. Love ya!”

You know you have an amazing teacher when she not only teaches you, but teaches you to love learning.

- Katie Hatcher

Schulte received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Amanda Brewer’s teaching and discipline methods have positive impact on kindergartner

Amanda Brewer

I'd like to recognize kindergarten class teacher, Mrs. Brewer. Not only is she kind, but she has complete patience with my daughter. My daughter has been taught so many new methods of learning and is able to incorporate these methods at home or in everyday life. These are methods I was not brought up with, and it's making a huge difference. I feel like she has shown rapid growth in her learning ability and the positive reinforcements she receives allows her to grow maturely. The complaining and crying have decreased at home, as she is being taught she can't always get her way. This is something my husband and I have struggled with for a year at home and within nine weeks with Ms. Brewer, we saw drastic changes. Her methods of teaching and discipline have reflected in only positive ways in my child. As young parents, we are too learning new ways of structuring our household through what is reflected at school. I couldn't be more thrilled that she is our daughter’s teacher for her first year of public school. Thank you for hiring such a wonderful teacher.

- Tiffany Ware

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Brewer received pizza discount coupons.

Andrew Shippy inspires students to ‘dig deeper to reach new levels of learning’

Andrew Shippy

We would like to recognize Mr. Andrew Shippy, a fifth-grade teacher at Princess Anne Elementary School, as a candidate for your Great Teachers program. It is not by chance that all upcoming fourth-graders hope they will get to have Mr. Shippy as their fifth-grade teacher. He truly knows how to speak their language and engage them by working hard to create enriching hands-on learning experiences that take them deeper into their curriculum. He gets to know them and learns their strengths and how to motivate them to reach higher. He takes his own time to lead the school’s Fire up Your Feet program and co-chair the school’s Green Club program. He is always coming up with new ideas to inspire deeper learning and get the kids excited about learning. We cannot be more thrilled that our son has Mr. Shippy to help get him ready for middle school by helping him to enjoy meeting new challenges and dig deeper to reach new levels of learning. Thank you, Mr. Shippy, for all that you do!

- Jennifer and Ruben Finger

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Shippy received pizza discount coupons.

Students love going to school every day thanks to Stephanie Scheno and Ashley Stephens

Stephanie Scheno and Ashley Stephens

I would love for you to recognize both Mrs. Scheno and Mrs. Stephens of Pembroke Meadows Elementary. My daughter is in kindergarten there and she looks forward to going to school every day. My daughter tells me every day how much she loves them and how excited she is to learn. It is very evident that they love what they do. Mrs. Scheno goes to great lengths to utilize all types of media to help her students learn, from songs to videos on the Seesaw app. Being a military family so far away from family members, we are very grateful to have this resource so we can share the videos with grandparents.

It has been such a joy to watch our daughter excel in her reading and to be so excited to go to school every day. We are so very sad to be moving out of state soon as we will miss not only Mrs. Scheno and Mrs. Stephens, but everyone at Pembroke Meadows Elementary.

-Brittany Stephens

My daughter has Stephanie Scheno at Pembroke Meadows Elementary School. She is in kindergarten. I was worried about her going to school full day since she had come from a sitter and part time preschool. However, once we met Mrs. Scheno all of our fears were put to rest. On open house night, her classroom was warm and inviting. The walls were filled with colorful art and posters. She had an organized, well thought out presentation. Her words were kind and heartfelt. As the school year has gone on, we have discovered that Mrs. Scheno is a wonderful, caring teacher. She loves each of her students and wants them to succeed. She treats them all with respect as I witnessed firsthand as a chaperone on a field trip. When an email is sent she responds quickly - not only that, her response is kind and well put. She responds like your child is the most important child in her class, even though you know she cares equally for all of her students. She gets to know each child and what they enjoy. Her lessons and activities are fun and enriching. My daughter comes home each day taking about the great day she had at school. Our experience at Pembroke Meadows has been great and that is due largely in part to Mrs. Scheno.

- Ruth Sander

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Scheno and Stephens received pizza discount coupons.

Regina Ferebee ‘excites students’ minds’ with a variety of learning activities

Regina Ferebee

Ms. Ferebee is a wonderful teacher. She invites the kids to learn and expand on math, science and reading. She makes videos of math problem solving and puts them in Class Dojo for students (as well as parents) to view and practice. She excites their minds by doing and putting what they have learned into practice. She allows the students breaks to focus more efficiently and promotes good nutrition and exercise, leading to well-grounded kids. I am so pleased that she is my granddaughter's teacher.

- a Pembroke Meadows Elementary grandparent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Ferebee received pizza discount coupons.




Julie Sill ‘is patient, thoughtful, warm and caring’

Julie Sill

I'm SO happy I finally get a chance to rave about Ms. Julie Sill, my son’s Pre-K teacher. This is his third year with her and he could not be more positively impacted by anyone else, maybe in his life. Julie is patient and thoughtful and an absolute key influence in his overall enthusiasm for learning. He comes home from school with a new excitement about books and numbers and making friends. She's helped the shyest, quietest boy come out of his shell and feel so good about himself that he can pass that positivity onto his sister and family.

He knew only a handful of words when he started with Julie and her language team. Three years later, he's the sweetest, most outgoing kid and he's excited to wear his "hearing helpers." He knows not only so many more words, but every day I'm shocked by his new conversational additions. He loves to read, loves to soak in every word he can and that came from working closely with his friends and school. He loves the classroom environment that Julie provides for her students.

She's warm and caring and pays attention to not only her students' learning but also to their home life. My son went through a personal family matter this last year and without her guidance, consistency and care he wouldn't have come out on the other side quite as sunny as he is. She gives him the confidence to keep learning and keep growing into the wonderful boy he is.

Knowing Julie, I'm nowhere near the only parent whose child she guides through the most important and impressionable early years with such amazing attention. I could never have hoped for a better teacher for my son. So many thank yous are necessary to Julie. We're incredibly grateful.

- Rachel, Josh and Coleston

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Sill received pizza discount coupons.

Melissa Graham ‘is a wonderful, nurturing teacher’

Melissa Graham

Mrs. Graham has had a struggle with my grandson this school year. She is wonderful, calm and supportive of my grandson. She gets excited when students make progress and believes in them. She has a great way of teaching so that the kids understand. She is always willing to help him if he does not understand and sees the potential in him. He really needs the positive and constructive feedback that he receives from her. I think she is a wonderful, nurturing teacher!

- a Pembroke Meadows Elementary grandparent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Graham received pizza discount coupons.




Terri Douberly, Catherine Morlock and Aaron Burdon ‘go above and beyond to help’

Terri Douberly, Catherine Morlock and Aaron Burdon

My husband and I came here in September 2014 with duffle bags to start over after hitting roadblocks in Delaware. The moment we arrived, things began to turn around for us. Within the first two months we found jobs, a new home, a car and made plans to get his son here by January 2015. Already being split between two households he had already moved around a lot.

His past three teachers have been so amazing in recognizing his challenges, communicating them to us and coming up with a plan to address the challenges. These teachers went above and beyond to help him. He may not realize it now but, he is truly blessed to have been taught by Mr. Burdon for third grade, Mrs. Morlock for fourth grade and now Mrs. Douberly for fifth grade.

- a Hermitage Elementary parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, each teacher received pizza discount coupons.

Class with Gary Hodges makes students happy

Gary Hodges

My daughter goes to First Colonial High School and she comes home on B days happier than usual. She mentioned she really liked her 4B English class with Mr. Hodges. She seems to really enjoy the class this school year.

- Sarah Brown

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hodges received pizza discount coupons.






Student looks up to Darcy Pohl as ‘an amazing role model’

Darcy Pohl

Mrs. Pohl is my AP Government and Politics teacher this year and was my AP US History teacher last year at Ocean Lakes High School. From the very first day I had Mrs. Pohl, not once has she ever given up on me. For those of us who were struggling at the beginning of last year with the extra workload of an AP class, she asked who planned on toughing it out because she wanted to know who needed her help. In this way, she gives each of her students an equal opportunity to access the extra help she offers.

This year, I have an off block in the mornings on my A-days and whenever I want to come in early to work on assignments, her door is always open. Mrs. Pohl encourages me to work harder as a student and in other aspects of my life. Mrs. Pohl attends numerous extracurricular activities held by the school and even supports the band at our concerts and competitions. She’s a great teacher not only inside the classroom but outside of it as well.

By teaching her students to get involved and helping those in need, she embodies an amazing role model that I can look up to. She engages her students in the classroom and influences us to keep up with today’s current events. Her classroom environment is welcoming with the posters that liter the walls and her bright, welcoming smiles.

Mrs. Pohl is someone I’ve grown close to and I believe embodies the concept of a great teacher pushing kids towards great dreams.

- Shelby Haggerty

Pohl received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Aileen Kane and Chad Huff give students choice and voice in their learning

Kane and Huff

My daughter attends Birdneck Elementary and is on her second year of having Ms. Kane and Mr. Huff as her gifted teachers. The constant communication they allow me to have is amazing and I feel like I'm following right along with the curriculum when my daughter gets home from school. They make my daughter’s learning experience fun, which is a hard task for a girl who often gets bored. They come up with the most clever ways to engage with everyone in class, such as allowing children to come up with their own songs about the subject at hand and giving them the tools necessary (i.e., green screen backdrop, music with no lyrics, cameras, etc.). They always allow many options for the kids to choose from so they can be comfortable and express their own unique selves. I'm beyond honored to be able to share yet another year with them.

- Kaelie Perkins


Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Kane and Huff received pizza discount coupons.

William Hayes shows dedication to his students and their success

William Hayes

The first time I met Mr. Hayes was at my daughter's open house night at First Colonial High School her junior year. She signed up to take AP Physics I. He sat on the edge of the desk, relaxed and ready to talk to the parents about the upcoming course.

The first thing he said to us was something I will never forget:

"Do not hire a tutor for my class."

Then, I believe, he repeated it again....

"Do not hire a tutor for my class."

Mr. Hayes said, "I will make myself available to help your kids. Even if they have sports after school or attend the Governor's school until later in the afternoon." I was immediately impressed with his dedication to the kids and their success in his class.

As my daughter navigated AP Physics I during the school year, Mr. Hayes kept his promise. He was always available to answer questions and meet to explain a concept. Not only is Mr. Hayes dedicated to the success of his kids, but he is also a great physics teacher. You can tell that he genuinely enjoys being there, and he makes physics interesting and fun. It was my daughter's most challenging class, but because he brings a love of physics to the classroom she really enjoyed it. And, she signed up to take AP Physics II.

- Christine Brugh

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Hayes received pizza discount coupons.

Gretchen Curtin and Amy Kelly make meaningful connections with preschool students

Curtin and Kelly

We wanted to share with you why Gretchen Curtin and Amy Kelly are the best at the beach!

My son is a boy of very little words and extreme emotions. He was diagnosed with autism earlier this year. Ms. Gretchen and Ms. Amy are patient and kind through his meltdowns and always keep us informed. They praise his successes and encourage us all through his shortcomings. He was fortunate to have them last year for his first year in pre-K, in which he went from not talking at all to answering yes/no questions and READING books. He has them again this year and will hopefully be lucky enough to have them both for his third and final pre-K year.

Being an educator is the single-most important career to have, and it isn’t easy, to say the least; however, it is a true calling to connect with students like my son. On weekends he cries to ride the school bus to go see his teachers. We are so proud of how far he has come in a year, and we know he will continue to grow because of the amazing work these educators do for him and with him every day.

- Amanda and Mark Malbon

Curtin received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous, and Kelly received discount coupons from campaign sponsor Papa John’s Pizza.

Leighanne Beaumont is ‘fun, kind, compassionate and understanding’

Leighanne Beaumont

Mrs. Leighanne Beaumont is my son's fifth-grade teacher at Birdneck Elementary. She is fun, kind, compassionate and understanding. She has been a HUGE help to my son as he prepares to transition into middle school. She is a great teacher by educating and reassuring her students, which ultimately builds confidence. She has been a blessing to me because without her and her team of teachers I would be constantly worried about next year. It's impossible to put into words how grateful I am for everything she has done and continues to do.

- Dana Conterras

Beaumont received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Nancy Robinson is ‘patient, kind and does not give up on her students’

Nancy Robinson

I would love for you to recognize Mrs. Robinson of Corporate Landing Elementary. She was a fifth-grade teacher last year but she is presently teaching kindergarten.

Mrs. Robinson loves her job! It is evident in the way she utilizes every avenue to get her students to learn. She is patient, kind to her students and she does not give up on them.

Mrs. Robinson is the type of educator who will go to any lengths to get her students to learn the material. She utilizes all media for assignments and practice work, and she responds to their online questions at all times, even late at night or on the weekends. She will let us know early on if her students are not rising to their potential. This allows us both to implement strategies for better future outcomes before it affects their final grades.

My daughter excelled in her class and managed to acquire advanced/proficient in the SOLs for science and math, the two subjects Mrs. Robinson taught her. Fifth grade is truly missing one of its greatest educators, but as luck would have it, my 5-year-old is a student in her kindergarten class this year and I am ecstatic.

- Nikki Sharp

Robinson received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Erika Connolly ‘is the quintessential history teacher’

Erika Connolly

When I was asked to write about a teacher who I think is great, Mrs. Connolly immediately came to mind. The only problem was I could not think of one particular thing I could write about – Mrs. Connolly is the quintessential history teacher.

Every day she seemed energized and motivated to teach. Every question we asked she answered thoroughly, as if it were some in-depth historical analysis. She always made us feel as though our presence was truly wanted and appreciated. She always managed to keep the class extremely informative and fun. She often cracked jokes that always gave the class a good laugh.

Mrs. Connolly is one of the, if not the, best teachers I have ever had at Ocean Lakes High School and I cannot recommend a teacher for a Great Dreams Need Great Teachers recognition more than her.

- Lukas Kowalski-Cook

Connolly received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Danielle Dow ‘is always positive, motivating and approachable’

Danielle Dow

I would like to recognize Ms. Danielle Dow at Corporate Landing Elementary School. Her first year there she was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. My daughter is now in fifth grade, and I have been lucky enough that my other two sons have had her as well. My son is currently in her class for the 2017-2018 school year.

Ms. Dow has taken time out of her summer to tutor my child, who was not even in her class at the time. She is always at school functions to support her students and participates in extracurricular activities like Girls on the Run and Gardening Club. She is always positive and motivating toward her students and always approachable.

It is refreshing to see a young woman such as Ms. Dow teaching and being a positive influence in the school. My family is grateful for her, and I have one more child that yet to have Ms. Dow in the upcoming years. We would love to see her get recognized for her hard work, even though I feel she does it because she enjoys it.

- Ramona Weber

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Dow received pizza discount coupons.

Helen Dondero gives students ‘confidence, knowledge and love’

Helen Dondero

“Great Teachers,” what does this mean to me? I was 13 years old when math started getting difficult for me. It was like a mental block. I could write a research paper, a creative story, read a 400-page novel, but math – UGH! It just wasn’t my thing. So, my mother did what she thought was best and called a tutor. I never knew calling that tutor would change my life forever.

Helen Dondero was my math tutor from the ages of 13 to 18. She watched me grow from a young girl into a young lady. Within these past years, I have watched her tutor many students and when I say many…countless. At times, she tutored eight students a day. But Helen didn’t just tutor. She became a part of our lives. She got to know the students she tutored. She got to know how each of us learned. We were her students and we were lucky to have her one-on-one attention. She knew my notebooks were neat and tidy, but I could not understand the easiest of geometric equations. She knew the ways to get me to learn. We would laugh, we would cry, we would struggle together. I never felt that I was alone in my difficult math journey. Helen was my teacher after I left school. She would drive me home from tutoring because my mom was unable to. Helen became my friend and my confidant when I didn’t have anyone that I could count on.

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- Lyndsay M. Hamby

Dondero received a Starbucks gift card donated to the campaign by an individual who wished to remain anonymous.

Katrina Roth ‘is a phenomenal teacher who has a kind and beautiful heart’

Katrina Roth

Mrs. Katrina Roth from Rosemont Elementary is by far one of the most caring and most competent teachers I have ever come into contact with. My son was in her first-grade class, which was the inclusion class at the time. During my time volunteering in her classroom I was able to inadvertently observe her teaching and not only did I feel confident in her ability to challenge my son academically, I was beyond impressed with the way she altered her teaching style depending on the student she was working with from moment to moment. Mrs. Roth is a phenomenal teacher who has a kind and beautiful heart. She is dedicated to each and every student she comes into contact with and I have personally seen her dedicate countless hours alongside her principal, Cari Hall, making Rosemont Elementary a school that not only adequately services each of their students but also goes above and beyond to make each student and staff member's lives better by attending this school.

- Jessica Kelly

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Roth received pizza discount coupons.

James Reid ‘goes the extra mile’ to prepare students for challenges

James Reid

I would like to recognize Mr. Reid, the band director at Corporate Landing Middle School (CLMS). He is an amazing teacher and an amazing man, and you can tell he really cares about the children under his tutelage. I am a band parent; my daughter plays the flute in the CLMS band. He really goes the extra mile to make sure that his students are well-prepared and ready for any challenge that comes their way (i.e. All-City Band, concerts, marching band functions). I was in marching band myself (Kellam High School, Class of ‘96) and I have never seen a more patient and involved band director in my entire life. He really makes a difference with these students and my daughter idolizes him.

- Alicia Reffett

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Reid received pizza discount coupons.

Kindergartner says Whitney Sinnen is ‘doing a fantastic job’

Whitney Sinnen

My granddaughter is in kindergarten at Christopher Farms Elementary School. She comes home every day telling Papa and me that Mrs. Sinnen is doing a great job and that she loves her so much. When asked what is she doing? She simply says, "She's just doing a fantastic job.” There's nothing more I can say about Mrs. Sinnen except, from the mouth of a 5-year-old, that she's doing a great job!

- Virgie Riddick

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Sinnen received pizza discount coupons.




Felethia Stacy provides ‘exceptional learning opportunities’ and ‘builds positive relationships’

Felethia Stacy

I would like to take the time to recognize a wonderful teacher who serves the first-grade students at Rosemont Elementary School. Her name is Felethia Stacy and she has made a meaningful difference in the life of my daughter.

Last school year, my daughter was in Ms. Stacy's first-grade classroom. Ms. Stacy not only provided exceptional learning opportunities for my daughter, but also she built a love of learning in my child's heart. She went above and beyond the call of duty to build a positive relationship with my child and helped to nurture and cultivate my daughter's strengths while supporting her areas of needed growth. One example of this was when she spent her personal time to visit with my daughter in her after-school program to play Connect Four. Ms. Stacy made my daughter feel special, helped her build her logistical thinking and deductive reasoning skills, and taught her that teachers are more than people who simply teach lessons in math and reading, but also are role models who provide support and can be depended on for support and guidance. In addition, she offered me the opportunity to come into her classroom to see the great things that were going on as well as participate by being a guest reader and volunteer. My daughter made both academic growth as well as growth as a citizen while working with her teacher. Ms. Stacy created a welcoming environment where my daughter felt safe to express her feelings.

She has continued to stay in constant communication with both my daughter and myself this school year (my daughter has now moved onto second grade), which shows that she has the belief that being an educator is a lifelong commitment. Ms. Stacy will always hold a special place in both my daughter's and my heart, and I am sure she continues to represent the same for the many students whom she works with. When the division says that "Great Dreams Need Great Teachers," Ms. Stacy embodies this vision.

- Laura Silverman

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Stacy received pizza discount coupons.

Melissa Calaman ‘encompasses all the qualities of a great teacher and great person’

Melissa Calaman

I believe there are many qualities of a great teacher, such as: their ability to relate to their students, their ability to keep students interested in the work they do, their ability to encourage students become their best selves, and last but not least, their ability to make the classroom and learning material enjoyable. Therefore, I would like to recognize Mrs. Calaman, my astronomy teacher at Landstown High School, as a “Great Teacher” because she encompasses all the qualities of not only a great teacher, but an overall great person.

- KaJay Ernest

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Calaman received pizza discount coupons.




Danielle Minehan’s ‘smile is genuine and her good attitude shines’

Danielle Minehan

This year, our daughter has Mrs. Minehan for first grade at Christopher Farms Elementary. When we arrived at Open House we found a very organized and enthusiastic teacher. She put together a lovely classroom. She spends a considerable amount of her personal time on Seesaw posting videos and pictures of the children learning, playing, and interacting with each other (which engages the parents). We are thankful to have this app to keep up with what is going on at school so that we can reinforce good behavior and learning at home.

Mrs. Minehan has a great attitude, not only when parents are around but even when we observe her outside of her room, in the school, interacting with other personnel. Her smile is genuine and her good attitude shines.

Our daughter wrote Mrs. Minehan a letter – unsolicited – that read, “You are the best teacher! I want my friend Maleigha to be in your class next year so you can teach her good things like 3D shapes and vertices.”

Mrs. Minehan has a zeal for her profession and it makes the students enjoy learning and have the desire to attend school. We are grateful that our daughter is in her class.

- Rachel and Bill Brody

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Minehan received pizza discount coupons.

Katherine Valet ‘motivates all her students to strive for excellence’

Katherine Valet

I cannot say enough about how wonderful Mrs. Valet is. She is my daughter's kindergarten teacher at Rosemont Elementary School and under her guidance and supervision, my daughter has blossomed academically and socially. Mrs. Valet manages her classroom with a calm hand and I believe she motivates all her students to strive for excellence. She really takes time to get to know each of her students and how they best learn and focuses her methods to ensure a student’s success. She is able to challenge and motivate each student at the level they are at and encourages and celebrates their efforts and successes. Mrs. Valet is a treasure at Rosemont Elementary School.

- R. Myhr

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Valet received pizza discount coupons.

Jamie Dallas ‘is warm, inviting and gives so much love’

Jamie Dallas

Ms. Dallas is one of those teachers that makes an instant impression. I first met her a couple weeks before school. I was there with my two kids to drop off some paperwork and we thought to take a stroll and explore the school a bit. Ms. Dallas was decorating her classroom and welcomed us in before I even knew who she was. Coincidentally, she happened to be my daughter’s future teacher, but it made no difference to her. She would have welcomed any parent in with the same open arms regardless if their child was going to be her pupil. Her energy was immediate and almost overwhelming; I thought to myself: This women is the perfect kindergarten teacher. My daughter loved her right away and opened up instantly. Typically she takes a while to warm up to adults. We spoke for about 20 minutes and I walked away feeling 100 percent comfortable with my daughter starting school.

Fast forward several weeks, and my three-year-old son and I headed to Creeds for a parent lunch day with. This was my first time going to the school and I was excited to witness the environment full with students. Ms. Dallas welcomed us, we enjoyed an excellent lunch, and then were invited back to the class for STEM. Well, to say being in a room with 25 five-year-olds is overwhelming is the understatement of the year. After about 20 minutes I was having heart palpitations and sensory overload. Ms. Dallas was interacting with every student, maintaining the same energy level she had when I first met her. It was truly a sight to see – mind you, this was a Friday afternoon as well.

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Dallas received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Hannah Yasemsky ‘is the best gift’ to the Renaissance Academy

Hannah Yasemsky

As rare as they often are, have you ever felt those moments in your life when you feel like you are about to experience something pretty phenomenal? So many came out to experience the eclipse this past summer, but it could be the excitement of something great coming your way, or the feeling (oh, so many years ago) of being a child watching the night sky hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa and his red nosed reindeer. I feel excited and on the brink of something phenomenal because of the presence of one of the new teachers at Renaissance Academy. I’m confident that Great Teachers is not limited to those that have been in the Virginia Beach the longest, but is open to anyone who represents great dreams.

Hannah Yasemsky organized an outing for her Renaissance middle school students to visit the Virginia Wild Horse Rescue. She is also expanding the opportunity to include the “Circle A Home for Horses,” where students become familiar with the lives of horses that have had a really hard time in life because of mistreatment and yet find hope and love again in the company of those who advocate for them. There are many lessons at hand – from horse to student and student to horse.

When she isn’t offering these opportunities, she is incorporating the latest technology with her students to encourage their active student engagement or organizing a Cultural Awareness Day.

Great Dreams Need Great Teachers – no one exemplifies it better. There is no better way to celebrate this season…if I get nothing else, I have the best gift I would ever want– a teacher like Hannah.

- a Renaissance Academy colleague

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Yasemsky received a gift card for a free pizza.

Kathy O’Brien shows dedication to her students and passion for her profession

Kathy O’Brien

Mrs. O’Brien was my son’s pre-kindergarten teacher at Arrowhead Elementary. I am so thankful for her. She was simply amazing in the transition from home daycare to a larger school with hundreds more people. Mrs. O’Brien was very attentive to the needs of my son. She listened to him and made him feel safe while he was away from us. When he had to have surgery, she gave us a call to check in on us the same evening and also let the class express their concern via phone while he was out. It’s these details as a parent that mean so much to me. She is such a lifesaver. I could not make a list long enough to give you all the instances that Mrs. O’Brien has made such an impact on our family.

One event that sticks out in my memory the most was closer to the end of the school year. I wish you could have seen the faces of my son and another student in her class when she showed up to their Saturday soccer graduation. Oh, it was priceless! Since leaving her class last summer, Mrs. O’Brien and my son still check in on each other often. If he could be in her class again, I am sure that he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity. He still has a picture of the two of them at his student awards ceremony hanging on his wall.

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Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, O’Brien received a gift card for free pizza.

Kathryn Chandler is an ‘understanding, caring, and exceptional’ teacher

Kathryn Chandler

When our kids start school, we as parents always have such hopes for them and their teachers. We all think that are kids are going to excel in school and that we will have a great relationship with their teachers. My son is in third grade now and I finally feel like we have found a great teacher. Mrs. Chandler first impressed me when she called me just to introduce herself and what to expect in her class. I was unable to attend the open houses, so this was a great relief to me to talk with her. I could tell right off the bat that she truly cares. She wants a successful year for her, her students and their parents.

Communication is a must between parents and teachers. Mrs. Chandler makes the effort to keep me informed of not only his behavior during class but also what they are learning each day. I can send her a message and she responds quickly. She is just a quick to tell me the positive things my son has been doing in class.

Being a teacher is one of the hardest, yet most important jobs around. Mrs. Chandler is a breath of fresh air in my experience. She understands what a parent appreciates but she also seems to be able to help my son. For the first time ever he comes home and tells me what he learned today. He seems to be engaged and focused. She is quick to encourage, yet keeps him in line when needed.

In closing, I was beginning to think that we would not find a teacher that was a good fit with my son. However, my prayers were answered this year by Mrs. Chandler. Arrowhead Elementary school is lucky to have a teacher as understanding, caring, and exceptional as Mrs. Chandler.

- Alyssa Young

Chandler received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Flo Heilig helps former student flourish

Flo Heilig

I want to nominate Flo Heilig for a Great Teachers recognition. My son had her as a teacher two years ago and made great strides in her class. She always found ways to help nurture his academic side and avoid the power struggles that many teachers used to have with my son. For example, he has issues with sitting still or in his seat to do his work, so she allowed him to sit under his desk. She didn’t care as long as he learned and didn’t disturb other students. This sort of teaching allowed him to flourish and I saw the relationship he was able to have with her. It’s really awesome and I wish there were more teachers like Flo. Thank you for being an amazing teacher to my son.

- Alisha MacElwee

Heilig received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.


Jamie Mann and Melanie Butler show compassion and patience

Jamie Mann and Melanie Butler

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize my son’s teachers, Mrs. Mann and Mrs. Butler. I think great teachers process qualities like tolerance and keeping an open mind. They are not in it just for a paycheck but have genuine compassion toward each child and want to see each child do his/her best. I have yet to feel like I was unimportant or my concerns didn’t matter. With each concern, I received a quick response by phone or email. I feel like they are getting to know my son for themselves and they do not expect him to be on the same level as others. They are dealing with him on “his” level because each child is different and learns differently even though they may be the same age or in the same class. My son is a typical fourth-grader with a fourth-grader attitude and behavior; however, I don’t feel he’s being singled out or disciplined any differently. “Patience is a virtue” and it is with great peace thus far that I feel his teachers process such godly characteristics.

- Debbie Parrish

Mann and Butler received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Deena Vinson ‘empowers her students to dream big’

Deena Vinson

Ms. Vinson is my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher at Linkhorn Park Elementary School. I also have two older children who were also students in Ms. Vinson’s class. She is a wonderful role model for children, both academically and as a vibrant active member of her community. Ms. Vinson shares her love of learning and reading with the children so they are infected with her enthusiasm to carry that zest for education along with them as they continue in school. She is motivating and encouraging, yet she keeps things real and honest too. She also has a great sense of humor that the children adore. She is a grounded person who shares tidbits of her life with her students. They all know how she loves her house in Pungo and considers herself a Southern girl. She listens to her students and cares about how they work together in the classroom, frequently encouraging them to try to work out their issues and strive for kindness. When my daughter recently had an episode where she was unkind to another student, she wanted to tell Ms. Vinson about the incident and how she felt about it even though it did not happen in her classroom. This proves to me that Ms. Vinson is someone my child feels comfortable approaching when she is struggling.

It is crucial that children are in a positive, comfortable, motivating environment for their learning. Ms. Vinson empowers her students to dream big, whether it is career options, hobbies, student government, physical activity or summer plans. These are the dreams that lead to future success. It is this open-minded, nonjudgmental positive approach to life that I love Ms. Vinson sharing with my children. They often adopt her silly sayings or Southern accent when they talk about their days at school. Lastly, Ms. Vinson is very well put together. She shows the children how they should present themselves: in a tidy, healthy, positive, keep-it-real kind of way.

- Heather Richardson

Vinson received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Mark Schmidt ‘is a great math and science teacher’

Mark Schmidt

Mr. Schmidt, fifth-grade teacher at Red Mill Elementary School, is a great math and science teacher; however, it’s the non-curriculum things he does that truly make him a great educator. Mr. Schmidt attends recreational league sporting events to support his students as well as band and choral performances. He gives freely of his time and tutors in the morning and also willingly donates his time to the PTA and various school events. He instills old school manners to his students whether it be that girls always line up first or answering questions with a polite “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir.”

My boys had the good fortune of being in Mr. Schmidt’s class and, as a parent, I appreciated all that he did without bringing attention to himself.

Red Mill is lucky to have him on their fifth-grade team.

- The Hale Family

Schmidt received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Dalton Parker ‘truly cares for my children and has their best interest in mind’

Dalton Parker

Mr. Parker has been so awesome to me throughout my years at Red Mill. He is always kind and caring to every student at Red Mill. I love having him around to talk to and teach me while I am at P.E. When I was in second grade I won third place at my state meet and he died his hair pink for me! That is just one example that shows how much Mr. Parker loves each one of his students. We truly are thankful to have him at Red Mill as one of our fabulous P.E. teachers Thank you, Mr. Parker, for all you do for not only me, but for every student at our school.

- Lily Enlow

Mr. Parker is kind, fun and caring. At recess, when I am sad and sometimes feel I have no one to play with, Mr. Parker is always there to help. He will play with me or find new friends for me. He makes sure I am never sad long.

- Chase Enlow

While I have never met Mr. Parker in person, it is obvious the joy Mr. Parker brings to my children while at school. One of them comes home weekly with a story that involves Mr. Parker. The stories I hear let me know that he truly cares for my children and has their best interest in mind. He makes them happy and is a man of his word to them, which is what children need. I cannot thank him enough for the happiness and security he offers both my children while at school. Thanks, Mr. Parker, for truly caring and helping my children each day!

- Christina Enlow

Parker received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Katie Anderson ‘is a great teacher that I know will continue to change lives’

Katie Anderson

I don’t even know where to begin with this great teacher.

My great teacher is Mrs. Katie Anderson at Ocean Lakes High School. I first met Mrs. Anderson during my freshman year of high school, as I was in her Honors English class. Instantly, I admired her strong teaching methods, welcoming personality and demeanor, and incredible sense of style. During middle school, I unfortunately fell out of love with English, but coming into Mrs. Anderson’s English class, I was lucky to have a teacher so passionate about English and literature that it brought back the wonderful feeling the class used to fill me with. She introduced me to various writing styles and a novel that remains near and dear to my heart. That year of English truly changed my life and made me the person I am today.

From that year forward, Mrs. Anderson became someone I could trust, confide in, and speak to whenever I had questions, grievances, needed advice, or just simply wanted to have a conversation with. The conversations we’d have would extend into various topics, allowing us to speak freely to one another about anything. Every time we spoke, she talked to me as though I was a friend and any information shared, she’d remember every little thing.

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- Blake Smith

Anderson received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Karen Sawyer helps and supports students with their studies

Karen Sawyer

I would like to admire a special teacher at Ocean Lakes High School – Mrs. Sawyer. She has been with my two sons since they have been in that school. She is a really good teacher to them and she helps them with all of their work and helps them improve with their studies. She is a big help to my two sons and will help my rising children who will attend that school.







- Joe C. Iwuamadi

Sawyer received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Courtney Lambert ‘has truly been heaven-sent’

Courtney Lambert

Mrs. Courtney Lambert was my daughter’s second-grade teacher last year. She has truly been heaven-sent! My children and school have not always had the greatest experiences. The struggles at home can be just as great. With one child in a SECEP school, one in residential treatment and one at CLES, there is a lot going on.

My daughter has always struggled with doing homework at home for me. When I brought this to Mrs. Lambert's attention, she immediately came up with a different homework system for my daughter to follow. This made more work for herself but has increased the amount of homework my daughter gets done to almost 100 percent weekly. Mrs. Lambert never hesitated to just come up with a different plan for her.

When I reached out to Mrs. Lambert and told her of some of my struggles, she came back to me with heartfelt words of encouragement and praise to me, and told me I am a blessing to all my kids and she can see the love I had for them. I was happy to hear that someone saw the things I do and, although I often feel like I'm not doing a good job, she assured me I am and then some.

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- Jen Simpson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Lambert received a free pizza gift card.

Claudia Ockert inspires and encourages student leaders

Claudia Ockert

My teacher’s name is Ms. Ockert. She teaches at Kempsville High School and she is the reason I became interested in leadership. Ms. Ockert was my honors English teacher my sophomore year. I had an amazing year in her class and toward the end of the year, she pushed me to run for a class office. Long story short, I instead just decided to join SCA, which she was an advisor of, and filled out an application to be on the executive board. My junior year was one of the best years of my life leadership-wise. I was involved with so many new programs and I knew that leadership was for me. At the end of my junior year I ran for senior class president and I won.

Now it’s my senior year and any time I need help with anything Ms. Ockert is always there for me with advice or anything else I need. If it wasn’t for Ms. Ockert pushing me to join a leadership group, I wouldn’t have been able to put myself out into the school and accomplish the things I have been able to and will accomplish my last year at Kempsville.

I think that Ms. Ockert deserves this recognition more than any other teacher in Virginia Beach because she’s just that great.

- Amarah Gray

Ockert received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Danielle Coughlin models kindness and respect

Danielle Coughlin

I wanted to recognize a teacher I barely encountered for her kind problem-solving and friendship-making skills. My son is a student at Bayside Elementary and I recently picked him up near the end of the day for a doctor's appointment. As I was waiting for him to come from his classroom I had the pleasure of witnessing Miss Coughlin deal with a situation between two young ladies involving unkind words. She asked both girls to think of something kind to say about the other. Though one girl was angry and unresponsive, Miss Coughlin's voice never raised, the smile remained planted on her face and she used kind and respectful phrases to explain the young ladies consequences for her actions. My son is not in Miss Coughlin's class, and I've only ever said hi to her in passing. But the way she handled the situation with communication and respectful thinking blew me away. Miss Coughlin did not belittle or chastise; she did not present a monologue – she opened a safe circle for the young ladies to work out their issues and express their emotions and thoughts while expanding their spoken vocabulary in communication.

- Tiffanny Hudson

Coughlin received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Kristen Daugherty shows a ‘love for her job and for her students’

Kristen Daugherty

Mrs. Kristen Daugherty is an amazing teacher. She has helped my oldest son with all his issues over the past two years. He has grown through her help and all her teachings to him. He went from struggling in school to loving it and being a helper in class. I know from this program and her help he will totally succeed in kindergarten next year. He is at his best and has a bright future because of her compassion and love for her job and for her students. Mrs. Daugherty is amazing!






- Shireen Peek

Daugherty received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Sonia Lacewell ‘creates a nurturing, fun, loving and learning environment’

Sonia Lacewell

A wonderfully great first-grade teacher at Woodstock Elementary is Sonia Lacewell. She effortlessly recognizes each child’s strengths and weaknesses and adopts lessons accordingly. She allows each child to play to their strengths. She also creates a nurturing, fun and loving learning environment for her class. She recognizes some children within her class may not be able to bring a snack from home, so she provides a snack for each child every day. Mrs. Lacewell also goes out of her way to include parents in the activities occurring in her class. Lastly, every day Mrs. Lacewell shows up to school with a smile on her face and an enthusiastic greeting for her students and their parents. She goes the extra mile to make sure all her kids are taken care of from hugs, to food, to academics. She is truly invested in her kids.

My son was in Mrs. Lacewell’s classroom last year and she was instrumental in getting him on the right path. She recognized where he needed help and implemented accommodations for him without us having to ask. My son absolutely loved going to school every day. Mrs. Lacewell discovered the areas he was gifted in and pushed him in these areas, while also helping him work in areas he was deficient. She also ensured he had accommodations in place for the next year ensuring he and his second-grade teacher would start off on the right foot. My son continues to go to her room every morning to give her a hug before starting his day. I volunteered often in her classroom and saw her use this same approach to each kid in her classroom. Her fluid approach to teaching allowed every child in her class to thrive.

- Charmel Cross

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Lacewell received a gift card for free pizza.

Roseanne Jacob ‘is patient, kind and believes in my daughter’

Roseanne Jacob

My daughters go to Woodstock Elementary. My youngest daughter has had a tough time with school. This year, it’s like a switch flipped with her, and I think that her teacher has everything to do with her success. Ms. Jacob has pushed her to do better, be better and try harder. She placed my daughter in the SCA, which has helped her become responsible and more outgoing. Ms. Jacob is patient, she is kind, and most importantly, she believes in my daughter. Now my daughter truly enjoys learning. She has trouble learning to read, and Ms. Jacob is making it fun for her to where she wants to try harder. This year has already been life changing for my sweet 7-year-old, and I owe it all to her teacher.

- Pam Perkins

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Pub, Lacewell received a gift certificate for free breakfast.

Tammie Maury-Huff ‘builds relationships with her students like no other teacher’

Tammie Maury-Huff

Tammie Huff, also known to me and other students as just Mrs. Huff, was one of the first teachers that would truly impact my life in a great way. Although, I never had a chance to attend her class, Mrs. Huff seemed to still find away into my life by becoming my reading and writing tutor. Growing up I was not a strong reader and writer, so my mother hired Mrs. Huff to tutor me because my little brother attended her class and she had seen the improvements he was making throughout the year.

Mrs. Huff first started working with me around the fourth-grade and has been in my life ever since. She instilled reading and writing technique that I still use to this day that I am beyond grateful for. Throughout our ride to success she never gave up on me; she would always tell she believed in me and that I could do anything – I just had to believe in myself.

For that reason my mother hired Mrs. Huff again to help me prepare and improve my SAT test scores from before. My SAT scores where a few points off from meeting the required score for the college I wanted to attend. She worked with me for a month and help me gear myself up for the test and gave me a game plan that would work for me. The work we put in was successful and I reached the score I needed to be accepted into the University of Texas at Austin.

If Mrs. Huff was not in my life I do not know if I would be where I am today. Mrs. Huff is not just a great teacher; she is a great person and builds relationships with her students like no other teacher. She becomes a part of your family – attending graduations, birthdays and going-away parties. You just want Mrs. Huff to be there because she invested so much in you to make sure success was in your grasp. For these reasons, Mrs. Huff is a major key to the success I have had so far in my life.

- Micaiah Harris

Maury-Huff received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Maria Bayse cares about and challenges students

Maria Bayse

Mrs. Bayse is my son’s first-grade teacher. She has communicated about my son’s progress on a consistent basis. She understands his academic needs; she has worked to provide activities to challenge him in the class. My son knows she cares about him as a student. He is always excited about what happens in the classroom. She holds him accountable for his behavior and he knows what the expectations are. As a reward for good behavior, she took time to come to one of his football games. My son was excited to see one of his teachers at his football game.







- Latashia Bates

Bayse received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Luisa Zirkle makes a positive impact with her positive attitude

Luisa Zirkle

Various times my daughter has come home to show me videos of Mrs. Zirkle and her class. She starts off her class by playing music and just being herself – loud and happy. How can this not have a positive impact on a student's life? I would not even be able to sleep through her class with her music playing and her walking around the classroom singing and ensuring she has your undivided attention.

Seeing these videos and hearing my daughter speak about her proves that what Mrs. Zirkle is doing in her class is much more than teaching. She brings a positive attitude and makes it fun. I doubt there is ever a dull moment in the life of a student in her class. She has gained the trust of her students and has made significant impact where students look forward to another day in her class. School does not have to be boring, we need teachers who love their job so much that they go a bit further to show this to their students.

I commend her on her positive attitude and just wanted to take a few minutes to say: Thank you, Mrs. Zirkle, for being so upbeat and fun, and bringing something different and new to the students of Bayside High (HSA). We never know what students are going through at home. You are making a positive impact in their lives.

- Elsie Delgado

Zirkle received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Andrew Harris instills a love of art and art history in students

Andrew Harris

I would like to nominate Mr. Andrew Harris who is an advanced art teacher at Old Donation School as a Great Teacher. My daughter Adeline loves art but she just loves doing art and crafting. She has not historically enjoyed learning about the techniques or history of art. Until this year! Mr. Harris has really motivated Adeline to embrace and enjoy actually learning about art and the processes and history. This is no easy feat and I credit Mr. Harris’ easy way with the students. He engages very naturally and easily and makes it interesting and exciting. She has greatly improved in her techniques and maturity in her content and draws at home to practice new techniques whenever she has free time. Thanks, Mr. Harris, for helping to advance Adeline’s love for art.






- Jennifer Finger

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Harris received free bowling passes.

Sheldene Martin and Latasha Waters are ‘an outstanding team’

Sheldene Martin Latasha Waters

My son is 4 years old and is in the pre-kindergarten program at Diamond Springs Elementary. Mrs. Martin has kept in contact with me every day on his progress in her classroom. Mrs. Martin has been a Godsend helping me keep his behavior in check. She has implemented behavior rewards, charts and ideas for home. She is a great teacher and sees the good in my son. I would love for her to be recognized because not only is she a great teacher but she goes above and beyond to make sure he is being held accountable. He was not allowed to go on a field trip, but Mrs. Martin and her assistant, Ms. Waters, were thoughtful enough to bring my son back a pumpkin. It shows their love for the children. I am blessed to have a great team helping me with my son. Please surprise Mrs. Martin and her assistant Mrs. Waters for being an outstanding team and dedicated teachers. They are truly AMAZING!

- a Diamond Springs Elementary parent

Thanks to campaign sponsors, Pinboy’s at the Beach and Papa John’s Pizza, Martin and Waters received free bowling passes and free pizza.

Sharon Phillips ‘is the epitome of a wonderful teacher’

Sharon Phillips

Mrs. Phillips was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher when she was labeled developmentally delayed. Mrs. Phillips worked wholeheartedly with my daughter for the whole two years that she was in her class. Before the first year at Diamond Springs Elementary my daughter couldn’t even tell me what she had learned during any school day. Mrs. Phillips knew my daughter could do it, so she pushed her. My daughter began coming home with wonderful stories of what she had learned. Exemplary cannot even define Mrs. Phillips. She stayed on the phone and in meetings with me all in an effort to make my daughter a more effective learner. In 2016 my daughter had what came to be her very last IEP meeting at school. I could not believe the things that they were saying about my child; it literally brought me to tears. Mrs. Phillips is a wonderful teacher with a real heart for what she does. I know my child and I know she can be a handful at times, but Mrs. Phillips never seemed the least bit frustrated. I contribute much of my daughter’s success to the help of Mrs. Phillips. She is the epitome of what a wonderful teacher is. I would like to take the time to appreciate Mrs. Phillips for all her hard work; it shows brightly. The best feeling in the world was when my daughter’s new teacher said she is very smart and she knows a lot. All I could do was silently say: Thank you, Mrs. Phillips for a job well done.

- Denise Parker

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Phillips got a free pizza card.

Ellen Olson ‘had a deep interest in kids and their future’

Ellen Olson

My son studied under her Ellen Olson in first-grade in 2015. In spite of kids’ various levels in a class, she would separate them in various groups based on their ability in different subjects. Then she taught them at their level. When she found that my son was at all different learning level, she trained him individually. She went out of her way to collaborate with other teachers from first grade to put similar abilities together. This kept his first-grade class interesting and challenging. He developed the love to explore, and she nurtured his curiosity by igniting the ideas and letting him research.

Today, students from her class are in third grade and thriving academically due to the strong foundation she built. She definitely making a big difference in our kids’ lives. She has a deep interest in kids and their future. I see my son getting closer to his dreams of becoming scientist one day.

Thank you VB Schools for making all this happen.

- Jinal Kothari

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Phillips got a free pizza card.

Stephanie Johnson ‘is the sweetest, most patient teacher’

Stephanie Johnson

We have a new special education teacher at Thoroughgood Elementary and she’s just the best! Mrs. Johnson is the sweetest, most patient teacher we’ve had yet. I love how she takes her time and stays positive with our son. You can tell she really genuinely cares about her students and tries to go the extra mile. We love her dearly!










- Jennie Arnett

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Phillips got a free pizza card.

Caroline Baraki ‘rocks’ and inspires young learners

Caroline Baraki

My family and I would like to recognize Mrs. Caroline O. Baraki who teaches first-grade at Hermitage Elementary School. My son is currently a second grader at Hermitage and had Mrs. Baraki for first grade. Mrs. Baraki is wonderful with the students she has and still, to this day, she holds a special place in my family’s life. She was a great advocate of reading nightly and taking trips to the library on the weekends to learn even more. She kept great communication with all of her students’ parents by sending out a weekly email to keep us updated on what the students were currently working on and would be doing in the upcoming week. She helped so much with getting my child where he needed to be and on the right level that by the end of the year, he looked forward to going to the library and different bookstores. She has been a wonderful teacher overall. I am so thankful that our paths happened to cross and we will never forget the impact she had in our life. Mrs. Baraki rocks and truly deserves to be recognized as a valuable asset to Hermitage Elementary School.

- Nadia Mile

I would like to nominate Caroline Baraki - 1st grade teacher at Hermitage Elementary. I have been collaborating with Caroline Baraki as my Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow seniors visit her class to teach her students. It is amazing to watch her interact with her students in a manner that is calm and respectful. Her students love her and her lessons inspire them! She seeks out new methods of teaching and is always attending conferences to enhance her skills. She speaks of her students as if they are her own kids. Her teaching is to be commended and her dedication to perfection should be known. I hope you will recognize her as the awesome teacher she is!

- Camilla Walck

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Baraki got a free admission ticket.

Tracy Taylor shows ‘hard work, dedication and joy’

Tracy Taylor

I am writing to you to tell you about the most amazing teacher I have ever met, Tracy Taylor. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in March 2003. In December of that same year he was diagnosed with cancer. He was only 4 years old and it was an extremely scary time. He started school in the fall of 2004 at Woodstock Elementary and his kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Taylor. As you can imagine, this was very difficult to send him into school not knowing what his outcome would be.

Upon our first meeting with Mrs. Taylor I realized that my son was in good hands. She was kind, loving, informative and firm all at the same time. There was never a day that I worried that he wouldn't get a hug if he were sad or a break if he were tired. She was a mother also and knew what it was like to send your child to school to be taught by someone other than yourself. She allowed me to be as involved as I wanted and to volunteer and help when needed. I never missed out on an experience with my son, which is what scared me the most – not having those memories to hold onto.

My son is a senior this year and a straight-A student with dual enrollment at high school and the ATC. I'm happy to say he is in remission and doing fabulously. He has had many teachers over the years. To this day, no one has ever shown the hard work, dedication and joy I have seen from Mrs. Taylor's teaching. She is truly one-of-a-kind. I heard she is at Bayside Elementary teaching pre-kindergarten. How lucky are those parents and they don't even know it yet? I want to let everyone know what a difference she made to my and my son's experience and life. Thank you, Mrs. Taylor. You will always be in our thoughts and hearts.

- Michelle Wickman

Taylor received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Andrew Cronin ‘makes students feel like they are his family’

Andrew Cronin

Mr. Cronin is very considerate of everybody’s learning. He is always nice and never embarrasses students by yelling at them in front of their classmates. He is very prompt for all classes and makes his students feel like they are his family.










- TJ Turner

Cronin received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Kathleen Trace ‘played a huge role in shaping our daughter’s gifts’

Kathleen Trace

Ms. Trace is one of the most creative, invested teachers we have experienced. When our daughter began at Salem High School as a junior, she had great concern about fitting in. Being part of journalism with Ms. Trace was a beautiful lifeline. Ms. Trace welcomed, embraced, challenged and pulled out the best in our daughter. She helped her tap into her gifts with great confidence and own and strengthen her voice.

I love that Ms. Trace is such a blend of head and heart. She makes her students work hard and think critically but she does so with great love for and belief in them. She is a true 21st century teacher, encouraging technology and a flexible learning environment. She has played a huge role in shaping our daughter’s gifts and plans for the future.




- Brook Chalfant

Trace received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

David Brown ‘is a visionary for student achievement’

David Brown

David Brown is an amazing teacher at the Technical and Career Education Center. He is a visionary for student achievement. He calculates methodically what a student needs and then formulates a plan to ensure each student succeeds. He is never afraid of a challenge and goes wherever he is needed within the school. He is truly an amazing, caring, educator.









- A VBCPS colleague

Brown received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Student says ‘the world needs more teachers like Natalie Pernites’

Natalie Pernites

I had Mrs. Pernites, who was Ms. Massey at the time, for English when I was in eighth grade at Kempsville Middle School. Mrs. Pernites was not only my English teacher, but my soccer coach at Kempsville as well. Although it was one of her very first years of teaching, you wouldn't know it unless she told you. She led the classroom with a confidence and enthusiasm that many veteran teachers strive for throughout their careers. She was a natural.

I am still very close with Mrs. Pernites today, in fact she just wrote a letter of recommendation for me to her alma mater, Longwood University, last month. This is the type of dedication and support she shows her students. Mrs. Pernites is willing to learn and grow alongside us because she knows, even as a teacher, there are still new things to be discovered. She gave me so much confidence by believing in me and showing me my potential even when I couldn't see it myself.

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- Samantha Sherman

Pernites received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Ray Obispo works ‘to ensure his students well-being and success’

Ray Obispo

Mr. Obispo is one of the most interesting and influential people I've ever had the privilege of having as a teacher. He was my history teacher last year, my junior year, and is currently my sociology teacher. I met with my guidance counselor to find ways of making new friends and getting involved at Salem. She showed me a list of all the clubs and organizations that Salem offered and there was one on the list that stuck out to me: Maelstrom. I had no idea what it was and neither did my counselor, but it listed Mr. Obispo as the sponsor, so I went and talked to him about it. He explained to me that Maelstrom was an under-the-radar club that sponsors open mics and creates a literature and art magazine every year. I started going to Maelstrom meetings and because of Mr. Obispo's encouragement, I decided that this club was a group that I could fit into and belong to. If Mr. Obispo hadn't introduced me to such an amazing organization, I would not have become Editor-in-Chief of Maelstrom this year.

Not only did Mr. Obispo get me involved in a club where I felt important and accepted, he taught me history in a way that I had never been taught before. He is has a very holistic and worldly view on life, which makes him an amazing teacher. He relates current events, one of his favorite topics, to the past and preaches about how everything is connected. Although his way of teaching might be unconventional, it allows students to learn more than solely what’s written in a textbook. At the end of the year, I was presented with the outstanding history award for juniors and had the highest history SOL score in my class.

Mr. Obispo deserves to be recognized as a great teacher because he is one. He sponsors two clubs and teaches both U.S. history and sociology. He has a lot of responsibilities as a teacher and somehow manages to put his students first. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Obispo and all the behind-the-scenes work he does to ensure his students well-being and success.

- Rachel George

Obispo received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Maggie Wilson ‘works endlessly to help her students achieve’

Maggie Wilson

I am an AVID tutor for many of the Virginia Beach high schools. I have worked with many teachers and while all of them have been good, there is one that I would consider great: Mrs. Maggie Wilson. She is the AVID and Public Speaking teacher at Salem High and she is one that I believe should be recognized. The children who learn from her love her and admire her, and working alongside her for a few years, I have to say, I do, too. She is stern with her students, but not the way any adult would be with kids. She does it with a great amount of affection and dedication. With every piece of information she bestows onto her classes, she molds it in every way possible to get all of the students to truly understand the material and connect with it through their daily lives.

I have been told by several students how favored she is among them and that without her constant drive and push for them to reach farther and do a little more, they would not have made it as far as they have. She works endlessly to help her students achieve what they didn’t think they could before.

I believe Mrs. Maggie Wilson to be a GREAT teacher.

- Erica Grinnell

Wilson received pizza discounts and coupons from campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza.

Mark Mugler ‘always makes his classes fun’

Mark Mugler

Mr. Mugler has always been and always will be my favorite teacher. He incorporates fun stuff into learning causing me to really enjoy his class. Having an A in his class was easy, especially when he taught so well. After having him in seventh grade, my sister continued to have him in sixth grade and loves him just as much as I do. He talks about stuff we like and always makes his classes fun!









- Hanna Williams

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Mugler received free pizza coupons.

Katherine Peot is ‘very professional and passionate’

Katherine Peot

Ms. Peot at Windsor Oaks Elementary is my son’s first-grade teacher. She has been great helping my son build his self-confidence. He loves going to school every day and is excited to learn with her. I am active in ClassDojo where I have sent her a few messages. She replies the same day, which shows her level of professionalism and respect for her students' parents. She is very professional and passionate towards the children and seems to really love her job. I’m sure being a teacher in an integrated classroom can be very difficult as there are many children with varying educational and behavioral needs. I have volunteered in her classroom and seen how she interacts with the children with different abilities. She is patient and very observant with all of the children and has amazing skills/tools to keep the children on task and engaged. It is great to watch her help the children learn how to do the right thing for themselves and the classroom. I am looking forward to interacting with her and the students more often this year.

- Kelly DeMarchena

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Peot received a gift care for a free large pizza.

Richard Rigg fosters love of music and confidence

Richard Rigg

I've had two sons go through Virginia Beach Middle School and my Great Teacher is Mr. Rigg, the music teacher. In the last four years he has gone out of his way to inspire my sons to play music – often times meeting them before or after school, and often requiring more from them than they want to give. I feel Mr. Rigg has been going above and beyond his job title for the four years I have known him.

My son is in high school and does have two amazing teachers, but I feel that if Mr. Rigg didn't give his 150 percent when my son was in middle school, he would not have the love of music and the confidence he has now.

- Tammy Rowan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Rigg received free pizza coupons.

Hannah Hopper teaches with ‘a soft voice and new ideas’

Hannah Hopper

I would like to bring light to a first-year teacher at Malibu Elementary School. From day one, Ms. Hopper’s communication skills have been 100 percent. My child, though not special needs, needs a little bit more attention in the classroom than most, and she has been a refreshing experience. She has always communicated very well what's going on in the classroom to further help me.

Also, she will take one-on-one time if needed in the classroom so that the student can get the same experience out of the lesson as other students who may not need as much guidance.

All of that combined with a soft voice and new ideas, Ms. Hopper has been an excellent addition to Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

- Katharine Fite

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Hopper received a free pizza card.

Parent wants to thank Kimberly Silva a million times

Kimberly Silva

I would like to thank Ms. Silva for her time and her efforts with my child. She is really such a great teacher – the best I have ever met. Any time I need her help, she answers me right away. I would say to her: “Thank you! Thank you!” a million times.











- Karima Harakat

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Silva received a free pizza card.

Nicole Bemis ‘is truly an example to follow’

Nicole Bemis

Nicole Bemis is an absolutely incredible teacher. She is everything we could have ever wanted for our two boys. We have been blessed to have her for both of our sons. First for our oldest when she taught second grade. Our middle son has her this year for first grade and it just keeps getting better.

Mrs. Bemis has the perfect combination of fresh ideas, the ability to communicate creatively to teach the curriculum, and, most importantly, a true love for her students as though they are her family. Nicole believes in letting the kids move about the space, lay down on the carpet for reading, and fostering creative teamwork amongst students. She has also embraced technology in the classroom as another wonderful tool to connect with students. Finally, Mrs. Bemis' communication with parents is stellar. She is only a ClassDojo message away and responds even during off-hours or weekends.

If anyone deserves credit and praise, it's Nicole Bemis. She is the kind of teacher that makes us so proud to call Kingston "home" for our children. She is truly an example to follow. Both of our kids say she is "the best teacher they will ever have!!”

- Troy Hedspeth

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Bemis received a free pizza card.

Julie Kelley ‘is responsive and connected’

Julie Kelley

I have the great privilege of having my child attend Kingston Elementary School. My son has the further great fortune of being assigned to the classroom of Julie Kelley for second grade. Mrs. Kelley is a standout teacher for a couple of reasons that are already very apparent to me. Not that my child has had a ton of teachers as only a second-grader, but as a graduate school graduate and alumnae of this very same elementary school, I think I can speak from experience about a variety of teachers I have witnessed, observed and from whom I have learned.

Mrs. Kelley is responsive and connected. Each weekend she outlines the objectives of the week and what the kids will learn in science, math, language, reading, etc., as well as their learning milestones and objectives. Kingston is a digital initiative school and she keeps us connected through messages, notifications, emails and postings on Class Dojo. I appreciate less paper and direct contact that does not depend on an elementary school messenger and his or her backpack of “treasures.”

She sends home notes that are personal to the child and offer praise but more importantly, targeted points of improvement, and she pushes them. Gently, but she pushes them. Even the advanced and gifted kids are pushed to do the best of their potential and not to “coast.” I appreciate that as early as second grade. It offers great life lessons and college and post-college grad school preparation in a competitive global workforce.

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- Lisa Hudson Kim

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Kelley received a free pizza card.

Elizabeth Clark ‘is kind and caring to all her students’

Elizabeth Clark

Mrs. Clark is a Great Teacher! This is my daughter’s first year in a public school as she’s only ever attended small private schools. Mrs. Clark has helped to make my daughter’s transition into public school a pleasant experience.

Mrs. Clark is kind and caring to all her students. I remember even during orientation hearing many parents say how Mrs. Clark was their favorite teacher at Linkhorn Park Elementary School. We had a parent/teacher conference and my heart was touched by how well my daughter and her teacher have bonded and connected. My daughter loves her teacher so much so she made sure we were able to get her gifts for her birthday! During the conference I was moved to hear Mrs. Clark talk about my daughter’s potential for reaching her future dreams and how she would help in any way she can to make sure my daughter is always learning and challenging herself to do better.

I truly believe Mrs. Clark goes above and beyond in all her efforts and this is why I say she is A GREAT TEACHER! Thank you so much for making public school a wonderful experience!

- Tania Fontanez

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Clark received a free pizza card.

Robert Wilson ‘creates a wonderful learning environment for his students’

Robert Wilson

Mr. Wilson, music/chorus teacher at Independence Middle School, creates a wonderful learning environment for his students. He is an engaged, dedicated and talented educator. He has challenged my daughter to do more without exerting pressure that is unbearable. She has developed her singing voice, performance skills and talent as a result of his leadership and mentoring.

Mr. Wilson is an asset to IMS and the entire Virginia Beach Public City Schools system and is deserving of this recognition.

- Mona Lisa Lysinger

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Wilson received a free pizza gift card.

Carly Ciarochi is ‘trusting, kind, fair and she cares’

Carly Ciarochi

Mrs. Ciarochi’s love for her students and willingness to go above and beyond her roles and responsibilities are what all teachers should strive for. Mrs. Ciarochi will e-mail parents after hours to let them know that their students are bright and intuitive. She gives credit for hard work and recognizes that children are individuals. She teaches to their strengths, promoting a positive classroom environment and respect. Mrs. Ciarochi has approximately 150 students and takes time to get to know each of their learning styles so that she can ensure the success of her students. Mrs. Ciarochi is a breath of fresh air in the middle school environment. She is trusting, she is kind, she is fair and she cares. She spends countless “off duty” hours to ensure that each child’s success and academic goals are met. She deserves recognition just as she recognizes her students.

- Carrie McClellan

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Ciarochi received a free pizza gift card.

Brooke Graham ‘cultivates and nurtures’ students’ interests

Brooke Graham

My son was in Mrs. Graham’s first-grade class last year and she is just amazing. She is so patient with the kids and always found a way to communicate positively about my child even on days when he needed to maybe behave a little bit better. She nurtured and cultivated my son’s specific interests, particularly in math and science. My son loves nature and taking care of the environment, and she encouraged this passion in him by equipping him with a bag to pick up trash and naming him the ‘trash manager’ when they would go outside. He was so excited to clean up around the school grounds because of Mrs. Graham’s encouragement and enthusiasm for his interests.

She does an amazing job of using technology resources to communicate with parents. Last year, the area of Virginia Beach we live in experienced a few scary tornadoes. One happened during a school day at arrival time. She took the time to take pictures of the kids and share via the Remind app with parents that kids were fine. That meant the world to me as a mom. If my son left home in any kind of bad mood or I knew he may have a bad day, I could use that app to alert her and she was always able to respond and assure me that he was OK (and take the time to check in with him).

My son loved her class so much that he was probably one of the few kids who was disappointed when school was canceled for snow last year. She is a true gift to teaching and VBCPS.

- Alison Leclaire

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Graham received a free pizza gift card.

Marica Mills is an ‘inspiration with her kindness and generous spirit’

Marica Mills

I know Ms. Mills because we both work at Kohl's on weekends. My son with special needs just so happens to go to Parkway Elementary where she teaches. On many occasions she has made herself available to help me and my son. Ms. Mills is a dedicated teacher and only elementary step team instructor for Virginia Beach elementary schools. Ms. Mills proffers and conducts charitable events with her school and Kohl's Cares, raising money for the school and the step team. Along with that, she will go all the way in the effort she puts forth with her students, helping them achieve their individual potential. She is a cancer survivor and truly an inspiration with her kindness and generous spirit.

- Adam Deever

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Mills received a free pizza gift card.

Janice Grover ‘sees all the potential with each and every child’

Janice Grover

My son was in Mrs. Grover's special education class for three years. She was absolutely amazing with him. She pushed and supported him just right to get him out of his shell and flourish into an amazing scholar! I might add that when she first got him he was nonverbal, but she didn't let that discourage her at all. He never got a report card from public school due to his "classification,” but he managed to get 3.8 GPA in his first quarter and every quarter thereafter in his new private school. This is thanks to Mrs. Grover and her excellent instruction for three of his formative years. She is a gifted teacher that teaches for the love of teaching and it shows.

- Ruth Abraham, D.D.S.

If it wasn't for Janice Grover at Providence Elementary School, my grandson would not be the man he is today. She is a very gifted teacher who loves teaching and who pushes and sees all the potential with each and every child in her classroom. She devotes herself to just them. When my grandson was first in her class, which he was in for several years because of autism, we had our first meeting and she asked me if I would like to have him succeed. She did exactly that. My grandson left her class on a SOL track for the following years and is still on it at Salem Middle School with a 3.7 GPA. She is an asset to Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I, for one, and many other parents are so grateful for the role she played in the lives of our children. I can't thank her enough for being a part of their lives and the difference she made in theirs and ours.

- Ruth Abraham, D.D.S.

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Grover received a free pizza gift card.

John Conway ‘encourages students to do and be their best’

John Conway

Mr. Conway at Providence Elementary school is an excellent teacher! He was my son Elijah’s third-grade teacher last year. Being new to Providence and public school was a big transition for my son. He’s an active, talkative boy who’s in the gifted program. Mr. Conway was very understanding and is the most patient teacher ever! He not only taught scholarly values to his students but also exhibited them.

My son said that Mr. Conway never yelled or raised his voice when students were off task; he just patiently redirected students to get back on task. He thought of creative ways to teach and motivate students. Mr. Conway gave Elijah a small squishy toy, “Mr. Strawberry,” when Eli moved his hands a lot during classwork. Eli looked forward to playing with “Mr. Strawberry” and eventually didn’t need him anymore. Mr. Conway always encouraged students to do and be their best. He was positive and could relate as a parent and teacher.

My son Elijah looks up to Mr. Conway and we think he’s an excellent teacher and couldn’t have been happier that Elijah was in his class.

- Deidre Harmon

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Conway received a free pizza gift card.

Erika Tortorice and Romy Bailey create ‘a great kindergarten experience’

Erika Tortorice and Romy Bailey

The teacher I would like to thank is Mrs. Tortorice, kindergarten teacher at Rosemont Elementary School. She had my twins last year in her class. She has done an amazing job preparing them for first grade. She let them explore who they were.

The reading that they have accomplished is outstanding. My son has learned to look at pictures to help with his reading and storytelling. My daughter has learned to count by 5s, 10s, and 20s. On picture day, my daughter’s hair had fallen apart and Mrs. Tortorice helped her fix her hair. I thought that was the sweetest thing. She took pictures of all the moments in class and field trips, and put them on Seesaw for the parents to feel connected. She corrected my son when he was wrong and I thank her for that. When I couldn’t make it to class events and my family would go in place of me, she welcomed them with the Rosemont spirit. She made every child in that room feel like they were future leaders, inventors and explorers.

I can’t forget Ms. Bailey; she is the glue that holds it together. Ms. Bailey made sure that the children were kind and used manners to each other. She made sure they stayed on task. She is such an amazing helper to have.

Ms. Tortorice and Ms. Bailey are truly awesome at making a child and parent feel like their children are in great hands. My children still to this day talk about those two and all the fun times and things they learned in room 9. I say thank you for all you two have done for a great kindergarten experience.

- Mrs. Costen

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Conway received a free pizza gift card.

Pamela Knecht is ‘an extremely special, one-of-a-kind teacher’

Pamela Knecht

When I remarried in 2015 it meant that my two boys and I had to move from Frederick County to Virginia Beach. It meant that my two boys would have to leave the only friends they had ever had, the only schools and staff they had ever attended and worked with, and all their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. We were leaving our school community, one in which I was a very active volunteer and employee. The people we were leaving knew and loved my boys immensely.

It also meant that my youngest, who had just completed the second grade, would have to start his brand new IEP in a completely different school system. Knowing that we were moving, the special education team in Frederick County took extra care when writing the IEP to include detailed test data and much more background information.

I was still worried; I trusted the team at our old school. I knew they truly had my son’s best interest at heart. They had known him since birth and knew exactly what his struggles were, plus he trusted them. How would he do in a new school, not knowing any of the staff or teachers? Would he get the help that he really needed?

I found a home in New Castle’s attendance zone and my son was assigned to a third-grade teacher by the name of Pamela Knecht. She was new to New Castle Elementary but not to Virginia Beach City Public Schools. At open house she told us that she had been a gifted teacher, which worried me. Was she going to expect my son to be able to do things he couldn’t? Wow, was I wrong to be worried!

Pamela Knecht was not only the BEST teacher for Matthew, but a GREAT teacher for the entire class. Her genuine concern and care of each student in her class was amazing. She made sure she knew how each student learned, what worked for each individual student and then pushed them just enough to help them develop self-confidence but without frustration. They excelled!

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- Michelle McKinstry

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Knecht received a free pizza gift card.

Lavoreen McPherson ‘takes the prize’ as a phenomenal teacher

Lavoreen McPherson

My son has had some phenomenal teachers over the years, but Ms. McPherson at Brandon Middle school takes the prize. She had him as a student two years ago and still to this day, she checks on him regularly to make sure he is doing well and to lend her assistance. My son started this year as a freshman at Tallwood High School and she called him the day before school started to wish him a good school year. She always checks in on him from time to time to see how he is doing and to make sure he is OK. Ms. McPherson goes above the call of duty and I truly appreciate her. She is the epitome of a great teacher!

- Audra Jeffries

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Stewart received a free pizza gift card.




Nancy Stewart encourages student ‘to strive for success’

Nancy Stewart

I would like to recognize Ms. Nancy Stewart. She teaches seventh-grade English at Larkspur Middle School. My son was not successful on the SOL in fifth and sixth grade. Because of this, he could only take Core English. After the first grading period of seventh grade, he expressed to me that he wanted to be in Advanced English. He knew with hard work he would succeed. I spoke to Ms. Stewart and she agreed. My son was placed in Advanced English and his grades excelled from there. The last concern was him passing the SOL. Ms. Stewart assigned many IXLs lessons for the class to complete. At first the IXLs were very challenging for him, but with guidance and encouragement from Ms. Stewart, he continued to strive for success.

What I appreciated the most is the talk Ms. Stewart had with my son about the high expectations of him passing the SOL – that it will not only impact him but is also very important to the school. The SOL is not an individual success but a team success. My son felt the pressure but was more than willing to give his best. After taking the SOL, he felt confident that he passed it. The next day he was more than proud to hear that it was true. The excitement! The joy! Not only did he make Ms. Stewart proud but also the school. He came home full of JOY! "Mom, I did it!"

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- Ms. Cynthia, "Proud Mom"

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Stewart received a free pizza gift card.

‘Nice and funny’ Mark Lents is student’s favorite teacher

Mark Lents

Mr. Lents is my son's favorite teacher. He talks about him every day and tells me the stories he uses to teach the kids science. My son loves his class and says Mr. Lents is very nice, funny and shares how much he is learning through Mr. Lents' excellent teaching.

- Melissa Julian

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Stewart received a free pizza gift card.





Debra Vickery teaches students ‘to grow, fail, learn from failing and always keep learning’

Debra Vickery

Both of my daughters are lucky enough to get weekly instruction from Mrs. Vickery, the gifted resource teacher at Christopher Farms Elementary School. They look forward to her lessons and they say, "When she teaches us, it is fun.”

I spent a little time with her during the first couple weeks of school when she did an introductions with the parents, and it is clear that she is INCREDIBLY PASSIONATE, not only about the children but also about teaching them to grow, fail, learn from failing and to always keep learning.

I feel very fortunate that my girls get the opportunity to engage with her and her passion for learning.

- Launa McMillen

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Stewart received a free pizza gift card.

Brianna Wille encourages students with warm, welcoming environment

Brianna Wille

I would love to recognize Mrs. Wille of Rosemont Forest Elementary School. My twins are in her class and were moved to Rosemont Forest this year. She is wonderful at communicating with me about their needs as well as their accomplishments. My boys love going to school every day and tell me they feel like a part of the class this year. This is due to Mrs. Wille making them feel important, including them, as well as encouraging them to be a part of discussions. I am confident that with Mrs. Wille as their teacher this year, they will grow tremendously with their social skills.

She is a wonderful teacher who encourages students to participate by making a warm, welcoming environment for her class. She makes it easy for parents to communicate with her and talk with her about any concerns we may have. I can only hope that through the years my children have teachers as wonderful as her.

Thank you for recognizing our great teachers!

- Bonnie Timms

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Citrus, Wille received a gift certificate to the restaurant.

Judith Raja Sekar ‘is nothing less than amazing’

Judith Raja Sekar

We brought our kids in the middle of first grade to White Oaks Elementary. We were having trouble with one of our twins and a teacher in a private school, and there was no option to try another teacher at that school. We were being told that our child needed testing for ADHD, but as a nurse and as somebody who came from a family with ADHD in it, I wasn’t seeing the same issues at home. I was super nervous about the switch.

After about of week of having both of my boys in her class, I saw a difference in their demeanor and attitudes toward school. Mrs. Raja Sekar stayed after class to meet with us and tell us how everything was going. She also let us know they were behind one grade level in pretty much every subject, but she assured us she wasn’t worried and they would be OK. And they were more than OK.

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- Elizabeth “Bibi” Jackson

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Raja Sekar received a free admission ticket.

Jillian Anderson is why students are excited to go to school

Jillian Anderson

Mrs. Anderson is my son’s kindergarten teacher at White Oaks Elementary School. She is the reason why my son is always excited to go to school.

- Letbatho Idibouo

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Pub, Anderson received a gift certificate for two free breakfast specials.





Margie Belan eases family’s burdens with generous acts of kindness

Margie Belan

We were evicted from our apartment because of nonpayment. My job was so slow and I couldn't pay. My family and I did not have a place to stay one night and we slept in the car. But the next day, Mrs. Belan called me and accommodated us in a hotel for a week and gave us three Visa gift cards for food or any expense my family had. My wife, my son, my daughter and I are very thankful for what she did for us at a very bad time. God bless her husband and her family. We are very, very thankful.

- A Centerville parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Papa John’s Pizza, Belan received a gift card for free pizza.



Randy Resek is “a thoughtful, caring and strengths-based teacher”

Randy Resek

My son has had some great teachers but his fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Resek, at Centerville Elementary stands out. Mr. Resek was a thoughtful, caring and strengths-based teacher and my son thrived in his classroom. My son has always been a good student — good grades and citizenship — but my son gave great reports at home about how much he enjoyed Mr. Resek’s fun and engaging style of teaching. I very much appreciated Mr. Resek’s rapport with my son and with myself, as a parent. My son began to truly stand out as a leader during his fourth-grade year.

My favorite Mr. Resek story is that upon learning that two of his students, my son and another classmate, were facing off in a championship Virginia Beach recreation basketball league game, he told the boys he'd try and stop by and watch them play that evening. And he did! He stayed for a few moments on our team’s "side” of the court and then headed over to spend some time on the other team's "side." Both boys were excited and proud to have their teacher come out to see them play, and I was beyond impressed that my son had a teacher who was not only teaching him what he needed to know to conquer fourth-grade but who was also modeling what it means to be a person of your word outside the classroom.

Bravo, Mr Resek! #greatteachers

- Sharhonda Woods

Resek received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Heather Elman ‘blends compassion with accountability’

Heather Elman

I am the father of a special needs child who had varying degrees of success and failure throughout elementary school. He struggled with self-esteem, poor behavior and inconsistent grades. This all changed for the better when Heather Elman resumed her work as his IEP teacher.

Saying “changed for the better” is truly an understatement. Everyone noticed – teachers, students, parents, administration and friends. She is amazing and was able to blend compassion with accountability. He found new confidence in what he was capable of which resulted in improved grades and self-esteem. To the surprise of everyone, her work with my son culminated with him singing the National Anthem, by himself and at the request of Mrs. Bianchi, during the John B. Dey groundbreaking ceremony.

He has continued this momentum and is becoming an honor student at Great Neck Middle School. I cannot believe this is the only student she has impacted. We cannot thank Heather Elman enough and she truly deserves recognition as a “SUPER GREAT TEACHER”!

- Glen Trematore

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Elman received free admission tickets.

Kimberley Bostick-Spencer gives student ‘a new sense of pride in his work’

Kimberley Bostick-Spencer

My stepson is a student at Seatack Elementary in Mrs. Bostick-Spencer's fifth-grade class. This summer he relocated from Georgia to Virginia. The last school he attended, in several ways, was not a good fit for him. Even with an IEP in place, he struggled with reading, writing and math skills. We, as his parents, knew having a learning disability does not mean he is unable to learn or be taught. We desperately needed someone with the right kind of patience.

When speaking with Mrs. Bostick-Spencer, my husband and I expressed our concerns, possible barriers to his success, his academic habits and our hopes for this school year and his educational growth overall. We asked to be updated and kept in the loop with any concerns. From the first meeting my husband had with Mrs. Bostick-Spencer to every single encounter we have had since, she has been such a gift to our family. She has listened to our concerns, given us feedback and suggestions and offered advice based on how she has come to know our son and what works for his learning style. She has also opened the door for our suggestions and feedback. Since signing up for Class Dojo, we have written at 9:30 p.m., 7:00 a.m. and all hours in between, and get a prompt reply, even on weekends. If it matters to us, it matters to her.

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- Marquia Gale Murray

Bostick-Spencer received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Christine Hayes’ ‘hard work and dedication’ prepares senior for graduation

Christine Hayes

I would like to bring to your attention the hard work and dedication of an elementary teacher named Christine K. Hayes at Birdneck Elementary School. She certainly deserves recognition. She has worked with my autistic son for nine years as his personal tutor. She never looked at the clock; she worked until he got it. She planned exceptional lessons for him and has worked her magic every Sunday for nearly a decade to help him meet his benchmarks. His teachers over the years have mentioned the great strategies that she has taught him and how he used them during class.

He is now a senior at Landstown High School and thanks to her expertise as an inclusion teacher, she has strengthened his skills in math, reading and writing every year. He has met his last SOL requirement for graduation because of the extra time she put into preparing him. Because of her investment and the relationship they have, my son feels confident and accomplished.

We are proud and excited that he has emerged from a non-verbal preschooler to a high school graduate this June. She truly has made a difference in our lives. Every time I mention her name, some student or parent raves about the work she does. Birdneck Elementary School and VBCPS are lucky to have her!

- Tina Carter Garfield

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Baker’s Crust, Hayes received a free pizza gift card.

Josh White is a positive mentor who is ‘adored by kids, staff and parents’

Josh White

We have a VERY big school and Birdneck is a Title I school. Our babies need love and a positive male role model, and we are low on male staff like all schools. We do, however, have a pretty special P.E. teacher who goes way above and beyond his job title.

Mr. White is the happiest man I know. He is contagiously happy. He LOVES his job. He LOVES to play and teach kids how to play. He just loves kids in general. So, he is the person the kids gravitate to if there’s a problem. Or, if they want a special lunch with someone. Or, if they need help. In fact, Mr. White is ALWAYS called on. He gives up his lunches as rewards or to council kids ALL the time. But beyond that, he is called in on field trips if they really need an extra male mentor, and he stays after school to fix things personally for kids on his own time. I could go on forever.

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- Robyn Hofheimer

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, White received free admission tickets.

Stephanie Piron teaches empathy and compassion

Stephanie Piron

Kindergarten is a difficult transition for most children. New school, new people, new routine. Our first two weeks were rough, as our 5-year-old transitioned from a small faith-based preschool to Trantwood Elementary. Mrs. Piron was warm and inviting. She encouraged our son to feel comfortable and made me feel more comfortable as well. Our child had never really “liked” going to school. He always fussed about going, said he was bored, the day was too long. We anticipated the same reaction to kindergarten. However, class with Mrs. Piron is so different! He loves school and races to the bus stop every morning. He comes home each day excited to tell us about his activities and explain how he “stretched his brain.”

The most impactful thing for our family has been the awareness of others that Mrs. Piron has demonstrated to the children. She is teaching so many life skills, including empathy and compassion, that can’t be taught on a worksheet or from a book. She is teaching these children to care about others, to care about the environment, to care about the imprint we make on the world.

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- Stacy Wells

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Piron received free admission tickets.

Tom Stahl “is all that is right about the teaching profession”

Tom Stahl

I want to bring your attention to Tom Stahl, fifth-grade teacher at Alanton Elementary. First, it is important to know Mr. Stahl has been teaching at Alanton since 1979! That is amazing by itself. However, I was shocked at Open House to meet him; his enthusiasm for teaching was that of someone brand new to the profession. He was so excited talking about what the kids would learn this year. You would have thought it was his first time teaching Virginia history or working with the Lynnhaven River Oyster restoration project, but I am aware he has been teaching about it for years.

Alanton recently started using Chromebooks and you would think he has always taught with them. No doubt he has had recreate lessons utilizing Google classroom and it is not worksheets online; there are video clips and detailed presentations that clearly took a lot of time and thought. I recently volunteered when the kids went to measure the oysters for the Lynnhaven River oyster project and it was clear he was having a wonderful time, engaging the students in math, science and writing lessons as they observed science in action.

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- Parent of an Alanton fifth-grader

Stahl received a gift certificate to Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant provided to the campaign by an anonymous donor.

Craig Powers and Amee Johnson “make learning relevant and fun”

Craig Powers Amee Johnson

Our daughter is a junior at Kellam High School. While she has had GREAT teachers every year, Craig Powers and Amee Johnson are two teachers this year who go above and beyond the call of duty. Their doors are always open for extra help before or after school, and they make learning relevant and fun! They take a personal interest in their students, and they are truly loved in return. As a retired teacher, it does my heart good to hear my daughter come home from school and share the outstanding, creative experiences she has in both of these classes. She speaks so highly of her teachers in general, but Mr. Powers and Ms. Johnson are truly special and stand out from the pack. Kellam High School is the best and the entire staff are to be commended for the excellent job they are doing.

- Susan Landry

Thanks to campaign sponsors, the Virginia Aquarium and Pinboy’s at the Beach, Johnson received a free admission ticket to the aquarium and Powers received passes for free bowling games.

Andrea Larson “makes learning interesting and fun”

Andrea Larson

My son is in Mrs. Larson’s second-grade class this year. I am so thankful that he has Mrs. Larson as a teacher because he gets off the school bus smiling every day! That may not seem like a lot, but last year was a very rough year for him. I really considered taking him out of public school and either homeschooling him or putting him in a private school this year, but I decided to give public school one more year. I am so glad I did!

Mrs. Larson goes beyond the basic classroom teaching and makes learning interesting and fun. My son came home one day really excited to tell me about how Mrs. Larson brought a crock pot from home to do experiments with the class when she was teaching them about the different states of matter. I could see his eyes light up in excitement, and I knew from that point on that she was going to be a teacher who was going to change his view on going to school and a teacher who would make a difference.

Thank you Mrs. Larson, for making school interesting and challenging for my son again. I appreciate all that you do!

- Cora Kasse

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Larson received passes for free bowling games.

Nacita Croy helps students believe in themselves and set goals

Nacita Croy

I am sure you are getting numerous heartwarming stories of accounts by parents related to how Mrs. Croy has helped their child in some form. Mrs. Croy was the best counselor, teacher and friend my daughter has had ever had. She has gone above and beyond my expectations as a parent.

She has helped my daughter learn to believe in herself again, to set goals and believe she was smart enough to reach them. Mrs. Croy sees each student as an individual and she is capable of making them desire to give their very best. She fights for them; I have never seen her give up on any student. She has an energy you can’t get from everyday sleep; it comes from a personal desire and need to help others.

Mrs. Croy has been one of the most important people my daughter will ever meet in her life. I will forever be grateful for her service and dedication.

- Pamela Smith

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Croy received a free admission ticket.

Stephanie Marshall is a “patient, nurturing and hardworking teacher”

Stephanie Marshall

My son is a third-grade student at Glenwood Elementary School. His teacher’s name is Ms. Marshall. She is absolutely amazing. My son was born deaf and received cochlear implants at the age of 2. These have now enabled him to hear and allowed him to be a part of a mainstream classroom; although, he would not be successful without the patience and help from an awesome teacher. He requires an FM system, a special mic to be worn by his teacher, and extra assistance to make sure that his system is always working properly. As if being a teacher to 29 children wasn’t hectic enough already, she is always sure that my son is able to hear and be a part of his class. It takes an extremely patient, nurturing and hardworking teacher.

Thanks to her, my son is learning and loving the third grade. I am so thankful to her for keeping my mind at ease every day, knowing that my son is in good hands and that all of his equipment is working smoothly. I would like to nominate Ms. Marshall for going the extra mile and taking on the job of helping my son reach his full potential. She is truly special.

- Shannon Flynn

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Marshall received passes for free bowling games.

Anne Flavin’s students know she loves and cares about them

Anne Flavin

Mrs. Flavin has been a great teacher in my life because she has always loved me. She has always cared about me and she was always nice. She helped me a lot to actually know how to get better at reading and she told me to read every day so you can get smarter, and now I’m smarter because I was reading every day.

- GeKobe Bell, second-grade student

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Flavin received free movie passes.





Stephan Currence provides ‘unwavering support’

Stephan Currence

I am writing to let you know about a teacher that I feel makes an impact on children daily. It’s not an extreme case, nothing remarkable – just a typical teenager struggling with his studies and the unwavering support and warm approachability of this teacher to help change this child’s direction.

My son has ADD. We requested a meeting to look at possible supports for my son in all of his classes. Mr. Currence was engaged during the meeting and treated Jeff like he really cared about what was happening while still holding him accountable for his grades and his responsibilities to them. He offered up his own planning class time to help in any subject, and during his class later that day, he reinforced his support and reminded my son he would see him the next morning to help during this special time.

Later that evening as I was going to sleep I received a ding on my phone and it was an email from Mr. Currence. He wanted to touch base about my son after the meeting and was happy to report that he was more engaged during class and positive about what he had to do. He again expressed his support and offered to speak with me about any questions or concerns, and let me know he would be in touch about my son’s progress.

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- Aimee Greco, parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Currence received free movie passes.

Logan Berns ‘loves his job and his first-graders’

Logan Berns

My daughter came to W.T. Cooke Elementary from a homeschool environment a little late in the year. She was welcomed to the school by Mr. Berns. He has had such a positive impact on her.

He communicates with parents daily through the Class Dojo app. Even beyond school hours he has been available to address my concerns. I've attended a couple school field trips with my daughter's class and I've seen his gentle way of dealing with apprehensive students. Mr. Berns accompanies his lessons with real-life experiences. My daughter frequently tells me of his stories, which give her examples of how to make good choices in her life.

We are so blessed that she was able to connect with such a kind-hearted, resourceful and gregarious teacher. This was especially helpful during her transition from one-on-one, parent-instructed learning. We want to thank him for all of his efforts at Cooke. I know when she is away she is in great hands. I can see that Mr. Berns loves his job and his first-graders!

Thanks for making a difference Mr. B!

- Kristen Aymer, parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, the Virginia Aquarium, Berns received a free admission ticket.

For Jill Belch, ‘teaching is not just an occupation, it’s her passion’

Jill Belch

We would like to acknowledge Mrs. Belch as a Great Teacher as a family! Our son is in her class this year and the week prior to school starting his grandfather passed away, whom he was very close to. We did inform her at the orientation but did not divulge how close they were or how hard it was impacting our son.

Mrs. Belch sought us out for a meeting within first three weeks of school to find what she could do to help him engage more and be more attentive. She was concerned as to why he was putting his head down during learning. While meeting with her we were comforted just knowing she really cared about our son. She truly wanted to know what was going on with this sweet child in which she sees tremendous potential. She mentioned that, for his age and being one of the youngest second-graders, he has a lot of profound thoughts and great ideas, can solve problems well, but gets very frustrated when others won’t listen to his ideas and shuts down or gives up.

We explained the closeness of our son and his grandpa and told her he was really sad, missing him daily. She immediately took action. She asked if she should have him talk to the counselor so he can express his feelings when he’s sad or upset. She said she could ask him if, if she saw him drifting off, if he needed some personal time to regroup or see if he wanted to see the counselor. She asked what we are doing at home that helps him through those moments of sadness.

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Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Belch received free movie passes.

Chiquita Tucker works together with parents for student success

Chiquita Tucker

Wow, where do I start when it comes to an amazing teacher? I was born and raised with a retired educator, and I understand the hard work and extra hours that go into being a great teacher. However, Ms. Chiquita Tucker goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching.

Throughout my son’s history, I have yet to find a teacher with her compassion and dedication to her students. I have received phone calls early in the morning and at night because my son was missing an assignment or to determine a new way of making him advance to the next level in his education. I have received e-mails if he is having a bad day to inquire if anything was happening outside of school that might affect his behavior. We have had countless conversations on how we can work together for the success of my son to ensure he has the skills needed to move forward in life. She is not just correcting papers and teaching in the class, but she is involved in their extracurricular activities as well (ensuring they are not only well educated, but have the proper social skills to succeed as well). She is interacting with the parents, coming in before school to offer additional tutoring and assistance as well as staying after. She takes her position home at night and reaches out to family to ensure she is doing right by our children and ensuring the success of our kids.

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- Angela Sears, parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Tucker received free movie passes.

Dione McTyre helps students embrace strengths

Dione McTyre

My son attended Brookwood Elementary from kindergarten through fifth grade. There is one teacher that truly, truly captured both my son’s and my heart.

I can remember going to have lunch with my son and I would see her walking around the lunchroom and offering hugs and smiles to the other students. Every time I saw her she was engaged with the students and I could tell that they just loved her. I remember hoping that my son would be lucky enough to have her one day.

The summer before fourth grade, I checked the mail and inside there was a postcard welcoming my son to fourth grade and introducing his teacher for the upcoming year. I saw the name Mrs. Dione McTyre. I wasn't sure of her name, so immediately I ran to my son's room and thumbed through the yearbook to find her. To my surprise it was that loving teacher that I had hoped for! I told my son that he was going to be so lucky that year and he truly was lucky. We as a family were lucky.

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- Amanda Pearson, parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, McTyre received passes for free bowling games.

Leah Cuthbertson is ‘responsive, patient and kind’

Leah Cuthbertson

I have been so impressed with all of the teachers at Landstown Elementary. The support my daughter and I have received has been so amazing. These kids spend a lot of time with their teachers at school and it is so important to have that support in and out of the classroom.

Meeting Mrs. Cuthbertson, we had no idea what to expect. Fourth grade was a big deal for my daughter and she was nervous about it. Her third-grade teacher, Mrs. Haberdash, really set the tone for the gifted program at Landstown. On opening night before school started Mrs. Cuthbertson met us with a warm and welcoming greeting. My daughter was excited to get the school year going.

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- Brittany Diaz, parent

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Cuthbertson received passes for free bowling games.

Melissa Bruckner ‘is a gift’ and fosters a love of learning

Melissa Bruckner

I am writing to recommend Mrs. Melissa Bruckner at Princess Anne Elementary School as a Great Teacher. She is a kindergarten teacher who strives for the very highest standards by modeling them for the children with her very awesome assistant Staci Neumann.

My little boy has always loved to learn and, as a stay at home mom, I try to give him as many opportunities to indulge that as possible. He is my first child and entered kindergarten this year. We came to the school for EDK testing during the summer and were greeted by Mrs. Bruckner. I knew she was special from the start. She put my boy at ease and he did his best for her on that screening, so I was thrilled to learn she would be his teacher when the card came in the mail.

When school started I suspect that I had all the rookie mom questions, which were numerous, but she has been gracious and attentive to all of my concerns. She has responded to every email in very timely fashion, and even put aside time to meet with me to address concerns when necessary. She is completely professional, kind, and reassuring not only from her tone, but from her results. From day one my child has bounced to school looking forward to every single new day. He gets off of the bus as if it was the best day ever every day. He tells me what he has learned and his love for school has trumped his past interests.

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- Jenny Davis

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Virginia Aquarium, Bruckner received a free admission ticket.

Mary Malone-Brown ‘is so very involved in every child’s learning path’

>Mary Malone-Brown

Mrs. Malone-Brown, a first-grade teacher at Princess Anne Elementary, has been a game changer for my son and our family!

My son’s kindergarten year had been very difficult for him, which makes it difficult for parents as well. He felt very overwhelmed and insecure in his abilities to read and write. On Open House night for first grade, Mrs. Malone-Brown came right up to Lukas and welcomed him to her class with a big smile of excitement! She showed him around the room and introduced him to all the exciting things they would be doing on the first day of school. On our way out Mrs. Malone-Brown thanked us for stopping in and gave us some papers to fill out. As we got home I opened up the folder and saw a really important sheet of paper. It was a front and back sheet of questions about my son. She wanted to understand my child. She wanted to know his strengths, his weaknesses, his favorite color, favorite hobbies and more. But what really stuck out was the question, “What do I need to know about your child to help them succeed this year?” I began to write and tell her all of the challenges my son had last year and how he really needed encouragement, reassurance and positive reinforcement.

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- Josh, Jennifer, Lukas and Liv Young

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Brown received passes for free bowling games.

Jennifer Rohr ‘keeps learning fun’

Jennifer Rohr

My son is a first-grader at Strawbridge Elementary School. I can honestly say ALL of his teachers are beyond GREAT. We are a military family and my son has moved every year for the first five years of his life. He attended four different schools before we settled here in Virginia Beach last year. He began kindergarten at Strawbridge and I have been amazed by the love, support and positiveness that emanates from all staff.

Ms. Rohr, his current teacher, is amazing. She not only is able to teach at my son’s level for him, she is able to keep learning fun. She is so kind and patient with all the students. She goes out of her way to make sure the students enjoy the activities and maintain enjoying school. Ms. Rohr allows my son, who is very particular and sensitive, to simply be him. She helps meet the needs of all the students while making each one feel special and like an individual. Additionally, Ms. Rohr is willing to adapt new methods into her classroom. For example, she is aware of the importance of students maintaining flexible seating and she has transformed her classroom into many tables with different types of seating options for the students. I am a physical therapist by profession, and I am so impressed at how progressive Ms. Rohr is at adapting her classroom for what is best for the current students. My son comes home telling me I should get the chairs he uses in school for home use because “kids work better when they are moving and my chairs at school allow me to keep moving.”

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- Michelle Menashi

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Rohr received free movie passes.

Wednesdays are student’s favorite day because of Leslie Wildman

Leslie Wildman

Mrs. Wildman is the gifted resource teacher at Strawbridge Elementary. She works with the students weekly and helps make their process of learning and creating so much fun. She encourages thinking outside the box and is always willing to believe in a child’s vision. She has been very supportive to my son and his process. He has stated for the past two years that Wednesdays are his favorite day because Mrs. Wildman goes to his class on Wednesdays.

My son always comes home from school and tells his younger brother the project he performed with Mrs. Wildman for that day, and then he recreates the project with his 4-year-old brother. It is amazing to watch. One week, after reading a book, “The Z was Zapped,” my son came home and retold myself and my younger son the story. By dinner time, the two had created drawings on the wall with each paper representing a different letter of the alphabet and depicting the story that was told that morning with Mrs. Wildman. Only they did not retell the story, they created their own sayings for each letter of the alphabet. I also had to buy the book that was read to show my younger son. Now, Mrs. Wildman not only impacted and taught my first-grader, but she is impacting my 4 year old as well.

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- Michelle Menashi

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Wildman received passes for free bowling games.

Mary Letson builds relationships and love of music

Mary Letson

Ms. Letson was my son's chorus teacher last year and because he enjoyed it so much, he signed up again for this school year. He has had a rough nine months. He found out during the middle of All City Chorus tryouts last year that I was in the hospital. I spent a month in the hospital to find out it was a very rare form of cancer, a sarcoma in my chest, that would be sending me to Boston for most of my treatments. Ms. Letson checked in with my son every day and offered her room as a space where he could come to feel safe and do work he may not have finished in class or at home during lunch and first bell. She also called to check in on me occasionally. When we tried to get our son to try some other electives this year, just for the experience, he got upset and said music was his outlet for his feelings and he feels good performing onstage. This year he continues to rave about Ms. Letson's kindness and ability to bring out emotion and music in him that he didn't know he was capable of. I'm a true believer that relationships matter in education (and all areas of life) and Ms. Letson has an amazing relationship with all of her students, especially my son who needs that extra set of eyes and ears right now as we continue to struggle through treatments. When my son goes to his room to sing I know I have Ms. Letson to thank for that outlet and for that love of music.
- Korrina Duprey

My son has had an amazing teacher for the last three years. Mary Letson has always helped my son and our family with anything we have ever needed. She has taken an exceptional interest in my child's development. I don't think I could ever repay her for the love, time and commitment that she has given. As a parent, I could not ever ask for a more exceptional teacher. She recognizes what these children have to offer and she challenges them and she actually teaches them. My son has learned a lifetime of lessons from her. On a more personal level, she has taken it upon herself to know about my family and how my job takes me away from home often. She keeps in touch with me while I am gone and helps my son out where he needs it such as bringing him specific shirts to wear because mom was not home to be able to get him certain things he might need for certain performances, etc. She also has helped to map out his direction in the coming years to further his education. These are not necessarily things you would expect from a teacher, but these are just a few things that she does on an everyday basis. I could go on and on about her and all that she does but in a few short words, Mary Letson is an amazing teacher and woman and should receive the highest of accolades for all that she does for our children. I will never be able to thank her enough!
- Tamara Bailey-Gatling

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Letson received free movie passes.

Kristin Martinolich and Jennifer Pendleton ‘truly want the best’ for their students

Kristin Martinolich and Jennifer Pendleton

My son is in Mrs. Martinolich's seventh-grade math class at Corporate Landing Middle School. I wanted to recognize Mrs. Martinolich and Mrs. Pendleton for all amazing things they do for my son. My son works really hard every day and struggles to keep up sometimes. Math has always been a hard subject for him and he needs a lot of help to understand math. Both of these teachers have gone out of their way to stay after school with him and help him one-on-one as well as take the time to teach me what they are doing so I can help him at home. I don't know a lot of teachers who take the time to not only teach great students all day but then take the time to teach a parent as well. My son is really hard on himself when he gets a bad grade in something especially if he's studied really hard. Both of the teachers make sure he's OK and cheer him up and every time. They love all their students and you can see they truly want the best for them. I have never had two teachers work so hard to help my son since he's been in school. I truly believe they deserve to be recognized and honored for how amazing they are. Any student would be lucky to have them as teachers.
- Nancy Bryant

Thanks to campaign sponsors, Martinolich and Pendleton received free movie passes from Beach Cinema Alehouse and passes for free bowling from Pinboy’s at the Beach.

Jacqueline Davis is a ‘motivator, encourager, confidant’

Jacqueline Davis

Mrs. Jacqueline Davis has stood by and pushed my son since he first got to Princess Anne High School. She's always reached out to me whether it was good news or his lack of good judgment. Mrs. Davis has built such a great rapport with him that not only does he want me to be proud of him but he also wants Mrs. Davis to be proud of him. So far, his senior year has been a success, and he is able to balance out his part-time job. Last year when he wasn't doing well in school, she made it a point to reach out to me and seek approval to stay after school to help him at least three times a week. She promised me that we would get him out of high school and on to bigger and better things, and so far, she has not only kept her word but she has exceeded well beyond what a teacher does by showing her care and concern for his well-being. I can tell she actually loves her job. For that, I love her and if I were able to give Mrs. Davis the world for her support and love for my son, I would ensure that she wouldn't have to worry about a thing ever again. Mrs. Davis looked beyond the young comedic classroom nuisance that my son can sometimes be and saw the potential that I see in him. If there was a cash prize for this recognition she deserves it all. Mrs. Davis is that woman, teacher, supporter, motivator, encourager, confidant and leader. She is everything that a teacher stands for.

- DaiToya Miles

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Davis received free movie passes.

Tim Dishaw helps students excel in math and more

Tim Dishaw

My son is currently in the eighth grade and throughout his school career he has struggled with his courses. This year has been different. He has a teacher that sees the best in him and I believe he is excelling because of this teacher. The only teacher who has ever called home after hours to give positive feedback about my son was Mr. Tim Dishaw, "Mr. D". After the phone call with glowing comments about my son’s behavior and grades, my son shared with me that Mr. D is awesome. He said that Mr. D did not like school when he was a kid so he makes the class fun to learn. I can tell you that after just a few minutes on the phone with him I could tell he was a fun and energetic teacher, the kind I would want to have in a class! Our teachers do so much every day beyond their scope of duties, after hours and for little pay. They should all be recognized for their determination to help mold the minds of young individuals. Mr. Dishaw stands out to me after having four children in Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
- Kathy Vargas

My son has always struggled with math. To say he hated math class on every level would be a true and accurate statement. He’s now in eighth grade and his math teacher is Mr. Dishaw. My son is coming home happy. He has good grades in math. He even goes to school an hour early just to go into Mr. Dishaw‘s class to get extra help. He is not forced to do this, he asks me to take him. My son tells me that Mr. Dishaw teaches integrity and honor by many methods within his class. This is an added bonus for any parent! He makes class fun and still expects and encourages hard work. I’ve never seen my boy so inspired and encouraged about something he’s hated for most of his life.
- Beth Davis

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Dishaw received passes for free bowling games.

Amanda Townsend “goes above and beyond” for her students

Amanda Townsend

I would like to commend Mrs. Amanda Townsend, for being an excellent and dedicated teacher. But we have seen more than the excellence as our son's classroom teacher; she has regularly gone above and beyond for her students. Mrs. Townsend has been our son’s English and social studies teacher since he entered Kempsville Middle as a sixth-grader in a special education classroom. Our son has Down syndrome. The first sign of Mrs. Townsend’s extraordinary dedication was when we discovered from his fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Grover at Providence Elementary, that Mrs. Townsend had visited her to learn about Caleb; what he liked, how he learned best and what worked for him in the classroom. We saw her at fundraisers/casholas outside of the school setting with the same enthusiasm and welcoming spirit that she generously gives in the classroom. Last year, when he wanted to try out for the school track team, a special education assistant was assigned to help him handle the tryout process. When a special education assistant was not available one particular day of tryouts, Mrs. Townsend stepped up and helped him that day. We have learned that these instances of extraordinary and selfless acts of service are not unusual for Mrs. Townsend. She has a heart for students and their families, while raising her own family. We know that there are many talented, dedicated teachers in this school system, and we have been blessed by one that is truly an inspiration to the profession – Mrs. Amanda Townsend.

- Steve & Denise Schmitter

I would like to recognize Mrs. Amanda Townsend at Kempsville Middle School for her exceptional performance and over-and-above service. Mrs. Townsend is my granddaughter’s special education lead teacher. It has been a blessing having her there with my granddaughter these last few years. She not only has helped her to achieve her goals set by her IEP but also has become a special friend to her. She will often talk about ‘Mrs. TaTaTa’ at the end of the day. Mrs. Townsend is always updating us on our granddaughter’s day, whether good or bad. She a lucky young girl to have Mrs. Townsend in her corner. It is nice to feel so comfortable having our granddaughter there with her. She really gets her and knows her better than any teacher she has encountered so far in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I cannot say enough how blessed we are to have our granddaughter with Mrs. Townsend at Kempsville Middle School.
- Lou (PopPop) Caretta

Thanks to campaign sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Townsend received passes for free bowling games.

Deb Fuge provides ‘comfort and relief’ for new military family

Deb Fuge

We have been fortunate enough to get Mrs. Fuge as my son’s first-grade teacher. She has been such a positive influence for my son, allowing him to flourish in the classroom. My husband is a Naval Flight Officer in the Navy. Like many military families in our position, we have lived in three states in three years. My 7-year-old son, Mason, has attended four schools in three years which is a feat of its own. Mason has a rare genetic disease which has complicated his young life and has caused him to have heart surgery and long stays in hospitals throughout the United States. We have encountered many special people who have contributed to Mason’s success, but there is something about Mrs. Fuge that has provided a sense of comfort that we haven’t had in three years.

Due to Mason’s expansive medical history, he is weary around adults and feels uncomfortable when his dad and I aren’t around to comfort him. He has a tendency to “shut down” when he is feeling vulnerable which has made it challenging at times for some of his teacher in his past. My husband and I were nervous to send him into another new school district and explain to Mrs. Fuge how to deal with Mason and his situation. I went to meet Mrs. Fuge a couple of days prior to the beginning of school in order to introduce ourselves. We left with some paperwork to fill out and bring back on the first day of school. This is when I knew Mrs. Fuge was going to be the perfect fit.

We have been fortunate enough to get Mrs. Fuge as my son’s first-grade teacher. She has been such a positive influence for my son, allowing him to flourish in the classroom. My husband is a Naval Flight Officer in the Navy. Like many military families in our position, we have lived in three states in three years. My 7-year-old son, Mason, has attended four schools in three years which is a feat of its own. Mason has a rare genetic disease which has complicated his young life and has caused him to have heart surgery and long stays in hospitals throughout the United States. We have encountered many special people who have contributed to Mason’s success, but there is something about Mrs. Fuge that has provided a sense of comfort that we haven’t had in three years.

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- Danielle Gussie

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Fuge received free movie passes.

Capt. Timothy Richardt encourages cadets to reach full potential

Timothy Richardt

Captain Richardt is a Naval Science teacher for NJROTC at First Colonial High School who goes over and above every day to make sure that his students or taken care of and don't feel like they ever have to worry. This is my son’s second year in the program. We enjoy working with Captain. Captain is known to show up at 5 a.m. to run PT and sometimes he does not leave the school until 7 or 8 p.m. because some of the cadets don't have the best home life and they like to stay after school. He plans field trips on the weekends to places like the Naval Academy to foster a passion for post-secondary education and a respect for our military and our country. You'll always find him encouraging students to reach their fullest potential. This man never does anything half way. He spends most weekends at NJROTC events and/or at NJROTC educational opportunities that he can bring back to school and report on to the cadets. I've witnessed him coordinate efforts to assist a cadet whose family lost their home in Hurricane Matthew. I've seen him give money and food to cadets whose families who don't have enough around the holidays, even if it means it’s coming out of his own pocket. He's a teacher who should be honored because he spends all of his time giving to others and building the future of these cadets.

- A First Colonial High School parent

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Richardt received free movie passes.

Amy Siverd inspires love of reading in students

Amy Siverd

When we went to meet my son’s first-grade teacher at North Landing Elementary School, I was very nervous. I knew Jake was behind in reading and, at times, he can be a bit of a handful. As soon as we met Amy Siverd, I felt confident it was going to be a great year. Mrs. Siverd has helped Jake go from a reluctant, struggling reader, to a boy who loves to read. Jake is reading above grade level now, which is a great accomplishment. But, as Jake’s parents, the moment we truly realized the impact Mrs. Siverd has had on Jake was on his birthday. We asked Jake what he was most proud of from his sixth year and he replied without hesitation, “My reading.”

Mrs. Siverd has built a relationship with Jake and all of her students. When you enter her classroom, you can feel the family and community that she has created with her students. We believe it is because of this relationship that Jake has been so successful and will continue to love learning and school.

- Katie Niehoff

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, Beach Cinema Alehouse, Siverd received free movie passes.

Kelly Singer 'pushes all her kids to their full potential'

Kelly Singer

Landstown High School's great teacher is Mrs. Singer. She is the gifted resource teacher here at Landstown but she holds so many more titles in our heart. She is a mentor, English teacher, avid teacher, virtual Virginia online mentor, guider, helper, enthusiast, and most certainly a ray of sunshine. She is a jack of all trades. Day in and day out she continuously brightens my day whenever I step into her room with her words of encouragement and bright smile. She carries a vibe with her that is so vibrant and makes the school day that much more enjoyable. She genuinely cares about the wellbeing of all her kids and it shows in everything she does for us whether she's required to do it or not. There truly isn't anything I cannot go to her for, which is a great characteristic to have in a school of high school young adults. She'll praise your success with you and uplift you during your downs. She pushes all her kids to their full potential even if they don't see it yet and she never gives up on what she knows they can do. Mrs. Singer loves us like her own and for that we truly appreciate her. For all these reasons, Mrs. Singer is truly my GREAT teacher.

-Destini Perry

Thanks to our sponsor, AutoBell, Singer received a free car wash and cleaning.

School Year 2016-2017

Lacy Ryerson 'makes learning FUN'

Lacy Ryerson

In the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Ryerson sent home a personal bio about herself. Upon reading it, I had no doubt in my mind that she was the right teacher for my child. Emma loves school and looks forward to attending every day. I've never seen my daughter so enthusiastic about school or her teacher. Mrs. Ryerson brings life to the classroom and makes learning FUN. She demonstrates a unique level of compassion and understands that all kids are different. Some have good days and some have bad days. She demonstrates an outstanding quality in communicating with parents daily. The school year is coming to an end and both Emma and I are a little sad. If only Mrs. Ryerson could teach fifth grade next year.

- Teresa H. Coker

 

 

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Ryerson received a free 2017 season pass.

 

Students 'can always count on' Denise Rapp

Denise Rapp

Mrs. Rapp has been teaching for 30+ years and she's just been amazing! She loves to teach and you can see and feel how much love she has for what she does! Since she has been teaching for as long as she has, she has had the pleasure to teach children of former students. Each morning I witness all her former students coming to her for hugs and not only does she give them a hug, she tells them to have a great day. Her past students know they can always count on her. She has helped my daughter grow and become a stronger reader. She comes in early every single day to get her lessons ready and to make sure she has everything ready for the kids to come in and learn. She also stays late almost every day. When she's not teaching at Rosemont Forest Elementary School she's teaching kids at her church. She's been a blessing to my family and so many others!

- Colette Benko

 

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, iFly, Rapp received a free pass for iFly flights.

 

 

Allison Krebs 'is a great teacher'

Allison Krebs

Who I think is a great teacher is Mrs. Krebs, one of my many favorite teachers that I had when I when I went to Lynnhaven Middle. I remember it was my birthday and, not only did the whole class work on what we had to do, we also celebrated with some hot chocolate. She also helped me keep my binder organized. I used one binder for all my classes and it occasionally ended up with papers in the wrong spot or papers fell out if they weren’t placed in there right. Mrs. Krebs is a great teacher!

- Amy Sawyer

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, iFLY, Krebs received a free pass for iFLY flights.

 

 

Sarah Sykes instills growth mindset in students

Sarah Sykes

I am a fifth-grade student in Mrs. Sykes' class at Landstown Elementary School. Mrs. Sykes teaches us A LOT! She loves her kids (aka her students). She has a growth mindset. I love her. I feel like she should be the Teacher of the Year, even though I'm not allowed to vote. She says if we put our mind to it, we can do anything! Because of her, I know I can reach my dreams.

- Joshua Miller

Thanks to our sponsor, Beach Movie Bistro, Sykes received two free movie passes.

 

 

Rachel Lugo 'wants every student to achieve excellence'

RachelLugo

Rachel Lugo, third-grade teacher at Lynnhaven Elementary School, is a great teacher.

She keeps the parents involved, communicates with us frequently, and she is serious about the kids learning. She doesn't let her students slack and I believe she wants each and every student to achieve excellence.

I must admit, I get excited when I get a message from Ms. Lugo in ClassDojo, which means the students are learning something new, and I have an idea of what to inquire about when my child comes home from school. I feel a lot closer to my child and I know that if there is a subject or piece of homework that my child and I cannot get through at home, Ms. Lugo is there to assist and explain what she is looking for and provide tips on how to get through it at home.

This third-grade teacher is fantastic.

- Theresa Carpenter

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, iFly, Lugo received free passes for iFly flights.

Hunter Dunlo’s attitude is ‘Pawsitively Positive’

Hunter Dunlo

In a district filled with amazing educators and from a middle school busting at the seams with terrific teachers, I'd like to highlight yet another man going above and beyond — Princess Anne Middle School's eighth-grade English teacher Hunter Dunlo. His message goes far beyond the structure of a sentence.

He and some fellow staff launched a program last year called “PMA,” three simple letters pointing to an equally simple but needed message, Positive Mental Attitude. The acronym adorns shirts, rubber wristlets and many of the posters, door placards and assignments Dunlo's students create. The message speaks for itself and it speaks volumes about Dunlo and his reach with his students. Practical yet profound. It's not about life being easy or everyone winning and sailing through. In fact, it's the contrary. He even had the kids write their own credo. It acknowledges that life can be hard and there are challenges, but one of the best and most powerful tools we have sits in our heads and hearts.

It's about choosing how you go into your day, seeing the good and choosing how you react to some of the tough stuff. And couldn't we all benefit from a little more PMA? As a parent, it's what I teach my own kids and one I'm thankful to see layered in school. It's my dream to see this in every school. Model it; big and bold.

He's a quiet guy but he's been known to dramatically bust into class dressed as a superhero and to vanish just as fast. Why? It's a way to inspire students to find adjectives and adverbs that describe the masked man. He raps; he laughs; the kids sing and the kids write. That's right, the kids write and they enjoy it!

He's a quiet guy but he's been known to dramatically bust into class dressed as a superhero and to vanish just as fast. Why? It's a way to inspire students to find adjectives and adverbs that describe the masked man. He raps; he laughs; the kids sing and the kids write. That's right, the kids write and they enjoy it!

There is no SOL test to measure the impact, but I can only imagine the effect of such lessons. Thanks, Mr. Dunlo, for being, doing and leading this “Pawsitively Positive” attitude.

- Kathy Rush

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, Rudee Tours, Dunlo received passes for a half-day fishing trip.

Gabe Howard 'teaches from the heart'

Gabe Howard

I am the parent of two students who are both fortunate to have been taught and/or coached by Mr. Gabriel Howard. All members of our family cherish the years that our children were taught/coached by him. He is not only an outstanding teacher and soccer coach, but also a remarkable person who seamlessly demonstrates and instills the proper values and behaviors to his students. Mr. Howard’s gentle demeanor, disposition and sense of humor all create an environment that causes students to grow and thrive. We feel he has been an outstanding mentor to both of our sons and that he has influenced them to be better people and citizens for the future. They now view situations from different perspectives, respect various opinions more, are more humble at success and more gracious in defeat.

Mr. Howard possesses so many of the qualities of an outstanding teacher and mentor: comprehensive knowledge of subject matter and curriculum and innovative ways to teach it; a loving, positive and effective classroom/coaching management style that engages the children; nurturing qualities of compassion, kindness, respect and patience; excellent communication skills; and an awesome eagerness and natural ability to teach that is truly motivated from his heart! He is truly making an impact on these young students and soccer players now and for the future!

Mr. Howard is always available for a conversation with students and parents. He disseminates a comprehensive weekly email that discusses in detail, usually with a humorous tone, the previous week’s gifted activities/projects and objectives. Projects are creative and innovative and allow the students to express their own uniqueness and personality and encourage the students to think “out of the box” and express themselves. It is evident that there is a tremendous amount of planning by Mr. Howard and collaboration with other staff members to implement the great and expansive gifted program at Great Neck Middle School. Mr. Howard also regularly updates his Twitter account to give parents a visual account of some of the great projects. This is the most communication and information we have ever received about my child’s gifted curriculum. I have been able to have conversations with my son about what he is doing at school. It is WONDERFUL!

Mr. Howard is dedicated to the profession of teaching and thrives on being his personal best for his students and their families and also his fellow colleagues. It is his heartfelt dedication to teaching and warm, nurturing demeanor and creativity that makes the difference in the lives of our children. Virginia Beach truly has employed a teacher who loves and believes in his profession, dedicates his time and teaches from the heart.

- Elisabeth Scheuer

Thanks to our campaign sponsor, iFLY, Howard received a free pass for iFLY flights.

Leyla Caralivanos builds student confidence

Leyla Caralivanos

I wanted to take the time to write about my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Caralivanos at Brickell Academy/Old Donation School.

My daughter is a very emotional girl who does best with positive reinforcement. Mrs. C has a beautiful talent of finding the best traits in each student and really letting them thrive!

Her positive attitude and pleasant disposition keep the kids energetic and motivated. She provides a lot of hands-on experiences and allows the kids to really explore and dig deeper into topics. She works with them individually on their writing to build confidence and make it fun.

Brickell Academy is a challenging school with incredibly bright kids, and last year my daughter struggled to find her confidence in such a strong academic group. Mrs. C has truly helped her blossom and find her strengths and confidence again.

Addie, my daughter, says: "She definitely deserves an opportunity like this because she is truly creative and has a strong writing voice. She can teach her class to do amazing things."

- Jennifer and Addie Finger

Thanks to our sponsor, Pinboy’s at the Beach, Caralivanos received passes for free bowling games.

Dwight Robinson is ‘amazing mentor’ to students

Dwight Robinson

My great teacher is my AVID teacher at Landstown High School. Coach Rob, or "Mr. Robinson," is the best teacher, amazing mentor and excellent coach a student could ask for. His doors are always open and he genuinely cares about each student. If you are having a bad day, Coach Rob will make sure it turns around for the better. He is consistently asking how everyone is doing and never fails to help when in need.

Without Coach Rob I would not be the student I am today. He pushes me and loves me like his own. He loves his job and you can see it shine on his face.

My great teacher is Coach Rob.

- Bailee Cox

Thanks to our sponsor, Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Robinson received a 2017 season pass.

Winn and Wyman encourage students to set high goals

Heather Winn and Stephanie Wyman

My son Brysen was in fifth grade last year, and Stephanie Wyman and Heather Winn were by far the most impactful teachers in such a critical time in his life.

Brysen is now a sixth-grader at Kempsville Middle, and he made the Principal’s List for the second quarter. Brysen set a goal at the beginning of the second quarter to make straight A's. Brysen has ADD and has been on medication for a few years. Two months ago he was taken off the medication. He's doing well but has to study harder as he has some trouble with staying focused, but not enough to need the medication any longer. When I asked Brysen what drives him and what is making him set such high goals for himself, he told me, “Mrs. Wyman and Ms. Winn,” and that they taught him in fifth grade to push yourself; set high goals; reach for your dreams.

He talks about the experiences both teachers shared about their college days. Brysen wants to go to MIT. He has it all plotted out. He even told me how many hours I will have to travel to see him. He also has his eyes set on the Advanced Technology Center when he gets into high school. His counselor is already working with him to get him ready for what he needs to get in – making sure he has enough credits and making sure he is on target to graduate with an Advanced Diploma.

I know teachers work so hard and sometimes it may feel like a thankless job – the hours; not just dealing with kids, but also the parents; and trying to do everything right. And teachers don't get paid anywhere close to what they should. So, Brysen sharing that with me touched my heart.

As a parent I can't thank them enough for impacting Brysen's life in such a positive way. This will stay with him for the rest of his life. He also said the field trip to Wal-Mart changed him. Raising money and buying for the homeless was so impactful and so empowering. He's been volunteering since then, which has also helped him with AVID.

Mrs. Wyman and Ms. Winn, keep changing lives.

- Lisa Knorr

Thanks to our sponsors, AMC Theatres and iFLY, Winn received two free movie passes and Wyman received two free iFLY flights.

Aaron Burdon inspires the “Heroes of Room 17”

Aaron Burdon

I'd like to tell you about a great teacher named Aaron Burdon who teaches third grade at Hermitage Elementary School. Not only does he teach third grade, he is the school’s Partners in Education coordinator as well as the robotics team mentor.

Mr. Burdon puts in at least 10 hours of work at school each day. Then he spends another hour and a half at home answering emails, preparing lesson plans, coordinating for the PIE program and prepping for the STEM Robotics Challenge in June.

Last year Mr. Burdon received the "Tagged by the Superintendent" recognition. He also maintains "The Awesome Folder," which is full of his students' drawings, cards and notes from his 3.5 years teaching at Hermitage.

One of Mr. Burdon’s most incredible ideas is a math game he created called "Heroes of Room 17," named after the room in which he teaches. At the beginning of the year, he takes pictures of each student. He uploads the photos and uses Photoshop to turn them into superhero cards. Each card is worth points for a spin of the dice. All I know is, it’s a game that the students love and learn from. The cards are amazing and are becoming legendary with each class that passes through.

I strongly urge you to go and meet this incredibly unselfish teacher for yourself. He's simply amazing.

- Deb Ruzycki

Thanks to our sponsor, Beach Movie Bistro, Burdon received two free movie passes.

Andrew Jackson is devoted, demanding and respected

Bryan Everett

I really respect Mr. Andrew Jackson at Green Run Collegiate. He has been the most demanding and challenging teacher that my son has had in his four years at the school, yet my son looks forward to his classes the most. That's because he has a great rapport with the students and has earned their respect. He has tremendous expectations, but he's up front about them and really pushes the kids to give their all to their work. It's just the motivation the kids need so they don't give less effort than they are capable of giving. He, too, always takes time to talk to parents when they are in the building, and he never hesitates to set up parent meetings when you request advice for how to help your student perform better. He's responsive in the evenings and on weekends when a student needs help or asks a question, and he's a devoted teacher. Despite how critical he can be, my son even chose him as his mentor for his extended essay because he knew Mr. Jackson was knowledgeable on the subject matter and would give him the most helpful and honest feedback, whether it was positive or negative.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my feelings about this exceptional educator. I've been homeschooling my children for nearly 15 years, and Mr. Jackson has earned my respect. He considers the individual student and tries to meet their educational needs to the best of his ability. I couldn't ask for more.

- Kelly Burgess

Thanks to our sponsor, Beach Movie Bistro, Jackson received two free movie passes.

Krista Mackintire leaves an impact on students

Bryan Everett

As someone who has grown up in Virginia Beach schools, I have been impacted by many great teachers. Being in education now, I still think back on all of my teachers. I had Mrs. Mackintire in fourth grade at Strawbridge Elementary and I remember specific activities from her class - like reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and writing an essay on what to do if we had the last piece of chocolate in the world. The best part, was she put a Hershey's kiss in front of us and honestly expected a class of fourth graders to not eat it before we finished our paper. Long story short, I was hired to teach middle school physical science and earth science to start my career. I achieved a great dream of mine with the inspiration from this great teacher.

- Amanda Malbon

Thanks to our sponsor, AutoBell, Mackintire received a free car wash and cleaning.

Jennifer Ramey is ‘always willing to be there’

Bryan Everett

Three Ocean Lakes High School students wrote in to share about their great teacher, Jennifer Ramey.

"I believe that the best teacher in VBCPS has to be Mrs Ramey she has been a big influence in my life academically and in my athletics. she is always there to stay after and help with what ever I need, I don't know how I could get by without the support of my favorite teacher Mrs Ramey."
- Hunter Gibbs

"Mrs. Coach Ramey (Jennifer Ramey) is a great teacher and coach at Ocean Lakes High School. No matter what sport or class you are in or take she is always willing to be there and help. I believe she is a great and fantastic teacher. She is always there for students when they are down or need help. She is a perfect example of a great teacher."
- AJ Atkins

"Mrs. Coach Ramey (Jennifer Ramey) is the definition of a great teacher, she goes above and beyond to make her classroom the best environment possible. Not only is she a great teacher but a great coach, I've had the honor of being one of her athletes for my two years at Ocean Lakes High School. In those two years she has coached The Competition Cheer Team, and Gymnastics team. She has lead us to a Conference Championship on both teams in just this year. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and I hope you consider recognizing the best teacher I've ever came across."
- Tayler Figo

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Ramey received two free dolphin-watching passes.

Lisa Powers excites, motivates students

LisaPowers

I have the great honor of being able to help out in Mrs. Lisa Powers’s fourth-grade class a couple of hours a week and am so impressed with the way she interacts and motivates and challenges our students.

Mrs. Powers has a self-guided method of teaching that allows them to thrive at their own levels and move up and down as needed. Mrs. Powers has motivated my son to ask questions, put in the work and excel for “AP” level learning. She has found my excited, eager, motivated learner again.

He is thriving and feels respected and learning how to organize his day and manage his time and still excel. He loves to see his AP grades now and get his work done well and quickly.

She gives the kids the autonomy to guide themselves through their assigned work to help them build time management skills and work at their own learning levels. If they need to work at home, they can. They work in small groups as needed and have ample time to ask questions as a group which they then also help answer. She respects them and they know it and in return they respect her and work harder – for themselves – because she empowers them to know they can.

I adore Mrs. Powers. She gets him and doesn’t just look through him and write him off. She understands he is capable if she doesn’t reward him for less than he can do.

I hope she can continue to do what she is doing and the other gifted cluster classes take from her successes and incorporate some of the practices she uses to reach all of their unique learning levels. She gets it.

-Jennifer Finger

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Powers received two free dolphin watching passes.

Bryan Everett is one of the best

Bryan Everett

I graduated from Ocean Lakes High School in 2013. Mr. Everett was my counselor and a huge part of the reason I graduated with honors. I was a part of the Culinary Arts VoTech program during my junior and senior year. I needed one class to allow me an honors seal on my diploma. This class was only offered during one block & it happened to be when I was scheduled to be at VoTech. Mr. Everett worked to allow me to do independent study to complete the class. This is just one of the many outstanding things he had done for me during my time at Ocean Lakes. The Dolphins family has so many amazing staff members but I truly believe Mr. Everett is one of the best.

-Nikki Reeves, Johnson & Wales University Foodservice Management-Senior

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Everett received two free whale-watching passes.

Jeremy Schratwieser inspires careers

Jeremy Schratwieser

Mr. Schrat (Schratwieser) had a huge impact on my career path. He was my magnet molecular teacher in 10th grade at OLHS and I enjoyed his class so much, that I took his AP Biology class senior year. Biology ended up being my major in college because I wanted to be a bio teacher just like him. Long story short, I was hired to teach middle school physical science and earth science to start my career, and now I am the new secondary science instructional specialist! I achieved a great dream of mine with the inspiration from this great teacher.

-Amanda Malbon

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Schratwieser received two free fishing passes.

Lisa Embrey amazes with her level of kindness

Lisa Embrey

I would like to recognize Ms. Lisa Embrey, Early Childhood Education teacher at the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center. My son is in the preschool program and is the happiest 4-year-old on Earth the mornings he gets to go to school. I can imagine it might be difficult for some to teach preschoolers and high-schoolers simultaneously, but I am amazed at the level of with-it-ness and kindness I see in Ms. Embrey any time I visit the preschool classroom. She is warm and welcoming to parents and students (the big ones and the little ones!). My son perceives each high school student in the classroom as one of his teachers because they are treated with respect and dignity by the adults leading the class. The instructional design of the learning centers, outdoor play time, and direct instruction provides the perfect model for my son and as parents we could not be happier with the program and Ms. Embrey’s leadership specifically. I could not be more impressed and grateful to Ms. Embrey!

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Embrey received two free whale-watching passes.

Princess Anne Middle School’s James Arnett makes a difference

Rachel Jennings

I can't say how appreciative I am that my daughter had the opportunity to have Mr. Arnett for math last year. He will forever be someone she can go to if she needs help or advice. He definitely made a difference in her first year of middle school.

-Jen Romine

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Arnett received two free whale-watching passes.

 

 

 

Debra Liddon is ‘a goal setter and dream maker’

Brenda Fuller

Mrs. Debra Liddon from Strawbridge Elementary School exemplifies the phrase, “Great Dreams Need Great Teachers.” Mrs. Liddon’s formal role is an ITS; however, she is a goal setter and dream maker. Her positive, go-getter attitude continues to push teachers to strive for more and dive deeper into using technology to enhance student learning. Mrs. Liddon transformed the school’s formal computer lab into a “Launch Pad” where students can explore, create and make using a variety of resources. She creates centers in the Launch Pad to extend grade level lessons and standards. She moderates monthly school wide twitter chats for teacher collaboration, motivates teachers through activities like Twitter Bingo and Tweet Competitions, and is a driving force in a green screen wall project for students to take their learning beyond the four walls of a classroom. She continues to find innovative ways to involve parents and the community through the technology transformation.

Thank you, Mrs. Liddon, for making amazing dreams come to life for the students and teachers at Strawbridge.

Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Liddon received two free whale-watching passes.

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Supporting Great Dreams

Throughout the division, our teachers and staff are finding new ways to lead, inspire and encourage students. Visit here to see examples of this leadership in action in our schools and classrooms.

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Honoring Great Teachers

VTFT students gain more appreciation for teachers through internships

VTFT Students

High school juniors and seniors have been in classrooms for more than a dozen years and have had equally as many teachers. For students in the school division’s Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow (VTFT) classes, those years of experience have informed their class discussions about the profession and qualities of great teachers. But it is their VTFT internships that have given tomorrow’s teachers a unique perspective and newfound appreciation for their teachers today.

To describe their internship revelations, they used words like “hard work” and “rewarding.” They also echoed the thoughts of Nicole Finocchio, a Kellam High School senior, who said, “It’s definitely a lot of lesson planning and work that teachers put in behind the scenes. They don’t always get appreciated because not everyone knows what they do outside of school.”

Finocchio is one of 11 VTFT students we asked to share their lessons learned about teaching in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.

Isaiah Gifford, a Tallwood High School senior and aspiring art teacher, said that when his VTFT teacher first discussed internships he knew exactly who he wanted to work with – his former English teacher at Brandon Middle School.

“When I had Ms. Baedke – I’m not an English student; I have dyslexia and I struggle a lot in English – she engaged me in wanting to learn more so I wanted to try to learn that style of teaching,” said Gifford. One can presume his style will emphasize the relationships he has enjoyed as a student.

“I’ve always liked teachers and enjoyed talking to them. I would be the kid staying after class late to talk to the teachers about how their week is going – not mine, theirs – just because I wanted to get to know them. If they’re going to teach me, I have to have a personal connection.”

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Crisher and Follin finalists for 2018 PAEMST

Allison Crisher, fourth-grade teacher at Luxford Elementary School, and Melissa Follin, third-grade teacher at Old Donation School, are two mathematics finalists in Virginia for the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The PAEMST program was established in 1983 by Congress and is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year.

According to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the award is regarded as the nation’s top honor for mathematics and science teachers and recognizes teachers who develop and implement high-quality instructional programs that improve student learning. PAEMST awardees serve as models for their colleagues and are leaders in the improvement of science and mathematics education.

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Jaworski wins David Cox FLAVA Award for Excellence in Foreign Language Teaching

Eric Jaworski, Ocean Lakes High School Spanish teacher and world languages department chairperson, has been selected by the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) as the winner of the 2018 David Cox FLAVA Award for Excellence in Foreign Language Teaching, K-12.

According to the FLAVA website, the award recognizes a foreign language educator in grades K-12 who has demonstrated excellence in foreign language instruction and whose nomination may be forwarded as the FLAVA candidate to regional associations’ competitions for Teacher of the Year.

Jaworski has been teaching Spanish at Ocean Lakes High School (OLHS) since 1992 and has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Old Dominion University and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Averett University.

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Diane Marx named Virginia Reading Teacher of the Year

Diane Marx

In November 2017, representatives from the Virginia Beach Reading Council visited Creeds Elementary to surprise third-grade teacher Diane Marx with the announcement that she was selected as the local council’s Reading Teacher of the Year. Months later, in March, another group of special guests visited Creeds to surprise Marx with the news that she was named the Virginia State Reading Association Reading Teacher of the Year.

The award recognizes a teacher whose commitment to literacy is exemplary and unparalleled, and Marx was selected from among the honorees named by the 15 reading councils in Virginia. The Virginia State Reading Association officially recognized Marx with the statewide honor March 9 at its annual reading conference in Richmond, Virginia.

“Mrs. Marx is a master teacher in every sense of the word,” wrote Casey Conger, Creeds principal, in a letter of recommendation for Marx. “She instills in her students a love for learning, especially reading, that extends beyond her classroom walls. After spending time in Mrs. Marx’s class, her students are better communicators, collaborators, flexible thinkers, problem solvers and citizens.”

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Students and staff recognized by Daughters of American Revolution

Four local chapters of the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) hosted an Excellence in American History recognition ceremony Feb. 22 to celebrate the accomplishments of 22 Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ students and teachers. The nonprofit organization was founded in 1890 with the mission of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism.

Representatives from the Francis Land Chapter, Adam Thoroughgood Chapter, Lynnhaven Parish Chapter and Princess Anne County Chapter presented Outstanding American History Teacher Awards to the following 8 recipients: Michael Bedell, Bayside High School; Sarah Clark, Salem High School; Randy Homesly, Cox High School; Karl Knoche, First Colonial High School; Brian Leininger, Kempsville High School; Dolores Marinello, Windsor Oaks Elementary School; Courtney Pope, Tallwood High School; and Melissa Porter, Landstown High School.

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VBCPS celebrates new National Board Certified Teachers

Congratulations to the school division’s 24 newest National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) as well as those who renewed their certifications. NBCTs received their notifications in December while staff receiving renewals were notified in October.

These new honorees bring the school division’s total of NBCTs to 144 – the fourth highest in the Commonwealth. This prestigious distinction is a symbol of professional teaching excellence that takes anywhere from three to five years to complete and is based on rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.

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John Pienkowski wins national ‘Outstanding New Educator’ award

John Pienkowski

In December 2017, the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) announced that Brandon Middle School science teacher John Pienkowski is the recipient of its 2018 Outstanding New Educator Award.

According to the NAAC, award nominees are in their first three years of teaching, were certified through an alternative route program that is a member of NAAC, and demonstrate passion for and commitment to the success of every student. Pienkowski was selected from five finalists.

Pienkowski, who is a second-year teacher, earned his teaching license through Regent University’s Career Switcher program. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2015 as the commanding officer of the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19).

He began considering a second career as a teacher as he neared retirement.

“I was in charge of the lives of 365 sailors and marines and an almost $2 billion warship. I had to do a lot of training and teaching,” he said. “I knew I was coming up on the end of my career and had been working with young officers right out of college and young sailors right out of high school. I enjoyed teaching them and seeing that ‘aha’ moment. I thought to myself, ‘I really enjoyed doing that.’”

He also knew that a career in education would allow him to continue to serve others.

“I joined the Navy to serve my country, to serve something bigger than myself. I felt [teaching] was a calling,” he reflected in September. “I thought, ‘You really love science. You are really energetic about teaching young people. You served your nation. Go serve your community.’”

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Leigh Drake’s artwork selected for VBEF 2018 Commemorative Print

Leigh Drake

Beginning in November, the Virginia Beach Education Foundation (VBEF) invited the public to cast its online vote for the foundation’s 2018 Commemorative Print. Each of the five options, artwork created by Virginia Beach City Public Schools employees, was on display Dec. 6 at the VBEF’s annual Teacher Grants Improve Futures (TGIF) Celebration where it also announced the winning piece.

Leigh Drake’s piece, titled “If I Could Keep you Little,” was selected to be the featured artwork for the VBEF 2018 Commemorative Print. The Old Donation Center gifted visual arts teacher explained the story behind the painting that features a child fishing.

“I’m inspired every day by the community in which we live and the students that I teach. This piece was a culmination of both,” she said.

“I’ve always loved the slow-paced sport of fishing. I remember fishing with my dad in Pennsylvania when I was young at a lake near our house. Living by the oceanfront now, I love seeing the thrill it brings to people both young and old when they catch something,” said Drake. “Currently, teaching students in grades 3-5, I love that excitement and innocence of them. They aren’t too caught up yet with cell phones and the digital age of things. So through this piece I decided to remove technology and show the wonder the world has when we just take a moment and enjoy things, like fishing.”

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Teacher and principals take flight at air show

Ron Shaneyfelt  flew with the Blue Angels

For Landstown High School astronomy teacher Ron Shaneyfelt and many people across the United States, Aug. 21, 2017 was a memorable date – the first time he saw a total solar eclipse.

Days later, on Aug. 25, Shaneyfelt learned about another life changing event – his selection to ride backseat in the No. 7 F-A/18 jet of the Navy’s elite flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels.

He added Sept. 12 to his list of memorable dates when he flew with the Blue Angels while they were in town for the Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Air Show.

“Emotionally, it was a day that really touched me realizing I was lucky to be selected for a flight that few get to experience. I couldn’t stop smiling,” reflected Shaneyfelt days after the flight. “I get to use that experience for my students to not just talk about forces in my Astronomy class, I get to tell them of my personal experience and show them the videos of me in the aircraft.”

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Moore becomes first VBCPS National Geographic Certified Educator

Stacey Moore

Stacey Moore loves science. You could say it is in her blood.

“Everything growing up was a science lesson,” said Moore of her childhood with her father, a science teacher.

It’s hard to imagine that the third-grade teacher’s enthusiasm for science could increase but her participation in the National Geographic Educator Certification program did just that.

“It’s a very cool program,” she said. “National Geographic for science is huge! It’s fun as a teacher and the kids absolutely love it.”

Administrated as a beta program since August 2015, 410 teachers have earned the National Geographic Educator Certification as of August 2017, according to National Geographic’s communications staff. An additional 1,488 educators are in the process of completing certification.

Moore is the first and only National Geographic Certified Educator from Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS).

She hopes to help change that.

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Who says you can't go home?

Cherie Davis

When Cherie Davis began her first day as a full time Physical Education Assistant at Providence Elementary School, the one item that she didn't need was a hall map.

"I loved coming back to the school, I loved coming to school here, kindergarten through fifth grade," the former student turned teacher said. "I liked working with the students and I really liked the teachers."

Davis is a product of Virginia Beach City Public Schools as she also attended middle and high school in the division. Little did she know that she would return one day after graduating from college.

"I have a degree in marketing, I had no idea that I would be doing this. It was really never on my radar, it just kind of fell into place," said Davis.

She served as a substitute teacher last year, a role suggested by her mother who also subbed.

"I first started as a sub, because I was looking at working three days a week and, as a sub, you can work when you want to," Davis explained. "The more I subbed the more I enjoyed it. I started out in the library, then kindergarten, pre-school and then P.E. I remember loving PE, and had such a great time with it."

Davis figured that whenever the right position would open up that she would apply. The right one turned out to be in physical education at her former school, working as an assistant to her former teacher, Donna Roenker.

"What made this position the right one?" asked Davis. "This school and the opportunity to work with Ms. Roenker. I knew that this would be what I loved."

"Cherie was an athlete when she was here, she was one of my athletes of the year," Roenker explained. "She went on to college to play field hockey, she did soccer and field hockey when she was in middle school, so she was always athletic."

Roenker says that Davis' familiarity with the school and the staff will be of benefit to her and the students.

"Cherie knows what I expect, she's been through it. She knows what we expect from the students and the more we raise what's expected, the more they give us, so she’s a really good influence on the children. And she seems to have fit in really well and the children like her.

"Yes, one of the first units that we did when I came here was parachute," Davis shared excitedly. "That was my absolute favorite when I was a student here and I was really excited and fed off the student's excitement. I remembered so many of the things that we did and loved that I can share that with the students today. They enjoy it just as much as I did."

"The families know that she is from this area so she can relate to experiences of this area," Roenker continued. "She comes here and knows the students, knows the area; Virginia Beach in general, not just Providence but all of Virginia Beach. The children respect her so I knew it would be a good fit. And that's what we like, we like to have adults in here that get along with the students and can relate to them."

"Relating to the students," said Davis, "I think it makes me a better mom when I get home. Overall my life is so positive. I knew that I had found what I was meant to do for the rest of my life."

Davis's road to discovery brought her roundtrip to her home, a school she attended and a teacher who inspired her nearly two decades ago.

"I said that I would give this a shot and pretty soon I realized that I loved working with the children in this community," Davis concluded. "I had studied marketing and here I am, teaching PE with my former PE teacher. It doesn’t get better than this."

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Celebrating Great Moments