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 at our Special Education Conference, to recognize and celebrate the efforts of educators, administrators, support staff, and students who demonstrate excellence in all facets of education related to disability.

    2023 Winners

    Category Winners
    Elementary School Teacher

    Melissa DeStefano
    Special Education Teacher
    Silverbrook Elementary

    Elementary School Administrator

    Sharyn Prindle
    Wakefield Forest Elementary

    Elementary Support Staff

    Shawna Peterson
    Instructional Assistant
    Rolling Valley Elementary

    Middle/High School Teacher

    Jae Lee
    Special Education Teacher
    Annandale High School

    Middle/High School Administrator

    Briana Kodadek
    Special Education Department Chair
    James Madison High School

    Central Office

    Mary 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 Contributor

    Unlimited Potential (“UP”)
    Springfield South County Youth Club


    Culinary Arts Program
    Davis Career Center


    Winners from Previous Years

    2022 Winners

    Category Winner

    Secondary Administrator

    Dr. Ellen Reilly
    McLean High School

    Elementary Administrator

    Scott Reeder
    Canterbury Woods Elementary School
    Assistant Principal

    Central Office

    Mike Bloom
    Central Office 
    Department of Special Services
    Director of Special Education Instruction    

    Elementary School Support Staff

    Katie Lacroix
    Special Education Instructional Assistant

    Secondary School Support Staff

    Alma Ortiz-Tellez
    McLean High School    
    Instructional Assistant

    Elementary Student

    Jackson Allen

    Secondary Student

    Lila Jones

    Secondary Student Club

    Assistive Technology Club, TJHSST 

    Elementary Teacher

    Amy LaCrosse
    Rolling Valley Elementary    
    Enhanced Autism teacher/Lead Special Education Teacher

    Elementary Teacher

    Kenzie Bergh
    Bush Hill ES    
    Multiple Disabilities Teacher    

    Secondary Teacher

    Victoria 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