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Supporting Great Dreams

We want to hear from you. Tell us about the great teachers and staff members who made a difference in your life or in the life of your child and how they have helped support your great dreams. Email us with your story at and we will post them here.

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'


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


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.