First-Class Awards

An annual celebration of individuals who support, design, and implement inclusion activities that result in positive outcomes for students.

First-Class Awards are presented each year to recognize and celebrate the efforts of educators, administrators, support staff, and students who demonstrate excellence in all facets of education related to disability.

Winners from Previous Years

2023 Winners

Elementary School TeacherMelissa DeStefano
Special Education Teacher
Silverbrook Elementary
Elementary School AdministratorSharyn Prindle
Wakefield Forest Elementary
Elementary Support StaffShawna Peterson
Instructional Assistant
Rolling Valley Elementary
Middle/High School TeacherJae Lee
Special Education Teacher
Annandale High School
Middle/High School AdministratorBriana Kodadek
Special Education Department Chair
James Madison High School
Central OfficeMary Beth Harrison-Cunningham
Family Resource Center
Specialty Program Staff
(Two Awards)

Ann Smith
Key Center

Emily Kaltenmark
Assistant Principal
Key Center

(Two Awards)

Leslie Leisey
School Based Technology Specialist
Poplar Tree Elementary

Ashley Kiley
Assistive Technology Speech Language Pathologist
Poplar Tree Elementary

Community ContributorUnlimited Potential (“UP”)
Springfield South County Youth Club
StudentsCulinary Arts Program
Davis Career Center

2022 Winners

Secondary AdministratorDr. Ellen Reilly
McLean High School
Elementary AdministratorScott Reeder
Canterbury Woods Elementary School
Assistant Principal
Central OfficeMike Bloom
Central Office 
Department of Special Services
Director of Special Education Instruction    
Elementary School Support StaffKatie Lacroix
Special Education Instructional Assistant
Secondary School Support StaffAlma Ortiz-Tellez
McLean High School    
Instructional Assistant
Elementary StudentJackson Allen
Secondary StudentLila Jones
Secondary Student ClubAssistive Technology Club, TJHSST 
Elementary TeacherAmy LaCrosse
Rolling Valley Elementary    
Enhanced Autism teacher/Lead Special Education Teacher
Elementary TeacherKenzie Bergh
Bush Hill ES    
Multiple Disabilities Teacher    
Secondary TeacherVictoria Robinson
Oakton High School     
Multiple Disabilities Teacher

2021 Winners

  • Michael Chierichella, 5th Grade Teacher, Coates Elementary School
  • Keely Norris, Special Education Teacher, Glasgow Middle School
  • Julie Tiss, Special Education Teacher, Rocky Run Middle School
  • Allie Ojjeh, Special Education Teacher, Herndon Middle School
  • Mark Thompson, Special Education Teacher, McLean High School
  • Deb Opalesky, Speech and Language Pathologist, McLean High School
  • Anna Southworth, Career and Transition Teacher, McLean High School
  • Mary Beth and Eric Fleming, Assistive Technology Resource Teachers, Assistive Technology Services

2019 Winners

  • Kerry Peerman, Principal, Halley Elementary School
  • Sarah Chawki, Student, Bush Hill Elementary School
  • Jordan Bristol, Kindergarten Teacher, Canterbury Woods Elementary School
  • Nancy Lucas-Heck, Multiple Disabilities Teacher, Lake Braddock Secondary School
  • Debra Opalesky, Speech-Language Pathologist, McLean High School