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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Powers received two free dolphin watching passes.
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.
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.
Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Schratwieser received two free fishing passes.
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.
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.
Thanks to our sponsor, Rudee Tours, Arnett received two free whale-watching passes.
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.
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.
When Cherie Davis began her first day as a full time Physical Education Assistant at Providence Elementary School in January, 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."
The Virginia Beach Education Foundation (VBEF) has featured artwork by students and staff in its annual Commemorative Print since 1999. At its annual TGIF (Teacher Grants Improve Futures) Celebration Nov. 2, the VBEF announced that “Bloom,” a painting by Rachel Jennings, will be featured on its 2017 Commemorative Print. The Corporate Landing Middle School art teacher’s painting was selected by the public in an online vote from among seven pieces.
The artwork featuring colorful flowers was a piece Jennings already had in her collection, “but the painting had not put down roots yet,” she said.
“Finding the perfect place for my work is as important to me as the journey of creating,” Jennings added.
Supporting the work of the VBEF seemed like the perfect place to Jennings.
“The piece reminds me of learning because the process of painting is similar as the colors are layered, blended, overlapped and built upon to enhance each,” she said. “The Virginia Beach Education Foundation provides opportunities for teachers to bloom and be creative in their classrooms, so submitting ‘Bloom’ to the VBEF as a representation of teacher and student growth felt like the perfect fit.”
The 2017 VBEF Commemorative Print will be available for purchase on www.vbef.org or by contacting VBEF coordinator Debbie Griffey at 757-263-1337 or email@example.com.
Brenda Fuller has been awarded the 2016 Supervisor of the Year Award from the Virginia Association of Health Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD). Fuller is the division’s K-12 coordinator of health and physical education and was presented with the VAHPERD award at its convention held in Midlothian, Virginia, Nov. 11-13.
Fuller began her career with Virginia Beach City Public Schools in 1989 as a health and physical education teacher at Kemps Landing Middle School. After serving as an assistant principal at various schools she was appointed to her current position of K-12 coordinator of health and physical education in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Fuller earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tennessee State University and an education specialist degree from George Washington University.
Don Ertel, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) fleet technician, was awarded second runner-up at the America’s Best Training & Skills Competition Nov. 4-8 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Held in conjunction with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit, the America’s Best competition attracts technicians and inspectors from the nation’s school bus industry. Technicians and inspectors were tested in separate categories and had to complete a written exam and hands-on challenge. Technicians were tested in repairs, tool usage, electronics and efficiency.
Ertel has been employed at the division’s School Bus Garage since 2011.