FCPS Cares - January 2021

By Department of Human Resources
January 05, 2021

To recognize an employee with an FCPS Cares, please visit our submission page.

To view past submissions, please visit our previous submissions page

FCPS CARES of the Month Recipients

Central Office

Gregory Robinson, Sideburn Satellite Center

"I like to recognize and share the recent experience with Gregory Robinson here at South County HS. Gregory ( Facilities Insulator), always comes to the building with a smile on his face. He spent 4-5 hours outside in the freezing cold repairing the pipe insulation on the chiller pipes to keep them from freezing. The birds were trying to make a nest in between the pipes and brick wall to get into the building. His work is so unique and it shows that he cares in his daily duties. Gregory always has a better and safer way of doing everything with his creativity and excellence, He always improves something that he does in the building for us. We just want to say thank you for your expertise and your hard work. Kudos to Gregory Robinson."

- Dennis White, South County HS

Region 1

Leah Conte, South Lakes HS

"This FCPS Cares is long overdue for our Director of Student Activities Leah Conte, and it is a well-deserved recognition. Leah goes above and beyond every day in an in-person situation as well as a virtual setting. At the beginning of this unusual school year, Leah was tasked with creating a game plan for students to pick up needed books and materials so they could be successful in their classes. She created this plan for our students and ensured that they were able to arrive at the school building and depart safely while picking up materials.  Leah's plan was carried out beautifully and with the support of many staff members who were happy to help.  Leah also organized delivery to those students who could not get to school or forgot to come or who had a change to their schedule, using school busses and resources like administration, the SOSA, an AA, and a translator. This was so much fun going into the community and seeing our students! We all felt safe during this event and it went very well. Most recently, Leah has been instrumental in creating a plan for our students to return as athletes. She has educated students and coaches on safe protocols and she organized practices and games so that everyone feels extremely safe. Leah attends athletic events in the evenings and supports everyone with anything they need for the students to be able to play sports. Leah is a caring, compassionate, and positive person who works so students can be successful. She is a staff member who always makes everyone feel valued and in this very difficult time of COVID, she continues to help us all feel hopeful."

- Amy Balint, South Lakes HS

Region 2

Barbara Oswalt, Sleepy Hollow ES

"Librarian Barbara Oswalt organized a 6-week program of author visits, staff and teacher storytimes, and Virginia author-led enrichment as part of this year's bookfair, titled Dolphinpalooza. These events were all digital, included give-aways and other engagement pieces, and well attended by families across the school. Ms. Oswalt worked closely with the school, PTA, and communications teams to promote and get support for this program, which began Nov. 13, 2020, and wrapped on January 11, 2021. The Sleepy Hollow bookfair raised funds for the school, solicited new books for teachers via their wish lists, and new books for the library, which has been distributing books curbside and via bus drops since the new school year began."

- a Sleepy Hollow ES Parent

Region 3

Monica Pelzer, Stratford Landing ES

"Monica is my son's second-grade resource teacher, but she is so much more than that!  During this pandemic, everything as a person, professional, and a parent is so much harder, and she is a shining light that helps me get through this day by day. Monica works so well with her students. I am amazed at how much my son has grown academically, especially in light of the challenging virtual learning environment. It is all due to Ms. Monica. She is so patient with all of her students. She also adjusts her teaching style to each individual student's needs, which is not commonplace this day. She also takes into consideration the fact that my husband and I work full time and cannot give our son the assistance he needs all the time and steps up when we can't. She is amazing and a saint and I just think the world of her. She advocates for her students and their families. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. Thank you, Ms. Monica!"

- Stratford Landing ES Parents

"One benefit of virtual learning is getting a sneak peek into the classroom and getting to see some of the amazing strategies our teachers use - especially with students who have additional needs. Ms. Monica blows us away every day- she somehow has connected with students in such a way that without even seeing them, she knows what they need at just the right time. She is gentle, calm, and patient yet always remains in control of every small group. Ms. Monica is able to explain any lesson in all subjects in a way that connects with the students. When she senses that the students just need more time, she quickly pivots and gets the students what they need.  Our student has received such focused assistance and instruction - we can't even imagine what would have happened if they were in-person. Ms. Monica is an amazing, talented, caring educator. We feel like we cannot share how much we are in awe and appreciate her enough."

- a Stratford Landing ES Parent

"Ms. Monica is always so patient and so supportive with her students. She has helped my son grow so much this school year. She is always so patient and kind and knows how to work so well with kids with special needs. She is such a saint and I am so thankful she is working with my son this year!"

 - a Stratford Landing ES Parent

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Region 4

Carmen Correa Ibarra, Ravensworth ES

"Sra. Correa works with 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-grade Spanish Immersion students in small groups to help them with math. My twins are in 4th-grade Spanish immersion. One of them works often with Sra. Correa, and she consistently makes him feel smart and capable. He used to get discouraged when he'd have trouble with math, but he no longer does so thanks to Sra. Correa's encouragement. His twin brother, on the other hand, has never needed extra math help. However, he performed poorly on a test and was placed into a small group with Sra. Correa on January 6. He was very upset about it and felt like a failure, but he did his best to hide it. Even thru her computer screen, Sra. Correa was able to pick up on my son's negative feelings. She took the time to send me and my husband a wonderful email stating that our son had seemed sad and that she wanted to make sure he was OK. She wanted us to tell him that she knows he understands the math and that maybe he just didn't double-check his answers that day. She also wanted to remind us (and him) that she is here to help whenever he needs it. My husband and I were blown away. We know from talking with various teacher friends how challenging it can be to "read" and connect with students through a computer screen, so for Sra. Correa to recognize our son's sadness and take the time to offer him some encouragement was so incredible. Distance learning has been challenging for everyone, but Sra. Correa's sunny disposition and encouragement has made it easier for our boys and for us. We truly appreciate her!"

- a Ravensworth ES Parent

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Region 5

Erin Denton, Daniels Run ES

"On December 4th Mrs. Denton had a student share in the virtual setting that they were potentially in a very dangerous situation. Mrs. Denton's quick thinking and expertise enabled her to make sure the student was safe, notify the appropriate personnel both within and outside the school while also having the rest of their class continue their work. Mrs. Denton followed up with the families in her class and I believe one of the parents said it best in an email she sent Mrs. Denton following the incident, "Hi Mrs. Denton, I wanted to thank YOU for your excellent response to this difficult situation. I was sitting next to my child at the kitchen table and witnessed what happened. When it sounded like it could be a scary situation, you responded with grace and support, keeping the kids calm and using the Teacher Table to talk with the student privately. That was perfect! When you came back to provide an update, you did it with what we've come to expect from you--kindness, compassion, honesty, and responsibility. You explained the updated situation very well to them and allowed them to share their thoughts and debrief about what they were feeling. You demonstrated what you've taught the class all semester long--that they are a family and that people make mistakes. You reiterated that this one was a big mistake, but, you never shamed the student. Instead, you transitioned the conversation into an amazing teachable moment, one that included a discussion about consequences, reputations, and the importance of telling the truth. When the student returned to the class, your response was wonderful. You showed the class how to respond with compassion and forgiveness. This may have been an unexpected lesson for today, but it was important, and I'm so thankful that my child is in your class. We feel so fortunate to have Mrs. Denton as a member of our DRES family and she epitomizes the ideals of FCPS cares."

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

Other FCPS Cares of the Month Recipients

Laura Prince, Justice HS

"Laura stepped into FOUR online classes over three days to help struggling students. This enabled students to be in smaller, more targeted breakout groups and especially helped those students who had missed significant amounts of school catch up  Not only did Laura help during these classes, but she then gave detailed feedback on how the groups went, what help students still needed, and brainstormed how to best meet the needs to these students. Thank you!"

- Ariel Miller, Justice HS

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Gaby Auza and Megan Oris, Daniels Run ES

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gaby and Megan for going above and beyond. In addition to their already demanding responsibilities, they have taken on the important task of helping to lead our focus on Equity. Recently they lead our second Equity Townhall and it was a great success. I greatly appreciate all their efforts in the planning meetings with Neicy Semper and myself as well as our Equity Team. The Townhall was incredibly successful and our staff walked away feeling energized and having had great conversations around equity and multiple perspectives. I want to thank them for taking on this leadership role in our school. We are very fortunate to have them both guiding our equity work. I believe both of these town halls have been extremely successful and I look forward to our next one. Thanks again for all you do!"

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

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Kenneth Johnson, Stratford Landing ES

"Mr. Johnson is dedicated to ensuring that students are supported and families have what they need to meet their child's needs. He is a true advocate for students. He takes time to build relationships with families and helps to facilitate a positive home-school relationship and partnership. A parent recently shared with me, that Mr. Johnson "is so easy to talk to and share concerns with. He is encouraging, thoughtful, and just a relief to talk to during these times. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate him more than I can say." This is just one example of the many positive experiences our families are having at Saratoga Elementary School because of Mr. Johnson's work."

- Erica Loesch, Stratford Landing ES

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Maria Farrow, London Towne ES

"Mrs. Farrow does an awesome job in watching the class while Mrs. Christiano teaches. This is not an easy task. She helps Mrs. Christiano by working with the kids in small groups. One example of how awesome she is. Mrs. Christiano would hit herself in the face with a "pie" if the kids counted to 20, individually, correctly. The giggles from the class were music to the ears. These kids were learning and having so much fun. At the end of the activity, Mrs. Farrow got in on it when the entire class counted, she "pied" herself. These ladies are amazing together!"

- a London Towne ES Parent

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Deb Christiano, London Towne ES

"Mrs. Christiano is a fantastic teacher. As hard as it is to keep kindergarteners engaged at their desk, she is doing it at their computers! This is not easy. I would like to give you just one example. A few weeks ago during math class, Mrs. Christiano came up with a very creative way to teach. Mrs. Farrow (classroom assistant) would call on a child and that child would count to 20. If the child got it correct Mrs. Christiano would hit herself in the face with a "pie". The giggles from the class were music to the ears. These kids were learning and having so much fun. She is doing an amazing job with these kids. She is teaching from her classroom so these kids know what their room looks like. So they will not be so scared if they get to go to school. She and her assistant, Mrs. Farrow, are a great team!"

- a London Towne ES Parent

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Candace Hunstad, Fairhill ES

"Mrs. Hunstad is an amazing principal! She is caring, inclusive and fosters an environment that welcomes advocacy for all children. My children love her! We really appreciate all that you do. Thank you, Mrs. Hunstad!"

- a Fairhill ES Parent

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Carolina Roca Del Valle, Stonecroft Transportation Center

"I wanted to take a moment to recognize Carolina for going above and beyond with assisting me with our transportation needs for the WIDA testing. Carolina has so graciously answered all my questions and my many emails quickly and efficiently and has been a true lifesaver as I have navigated testing in this virtual environment. She has always been ready to help me brainstorm the best way to handle this scenario and could not be more pleasant to work with. This is certainly a new situation for all of us that truly requires our "village" to work together and I am able to do that due to the amazing people we have working in FCPS and in particular Carolina in transportation. I recognize that I am only one of many schools she is supporting. This is way more than just picking up students and bringing them to/from school and I know that Carolina truly understands that. Carolina is an FCPS employee who deeply cares about the work she does and I cannot thank her enough for all the support she has offered me. Thank you, Carolina!"

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

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Janene Pack, Lake Braddock SS

"Mrs. Janene Pack has been an incredible addition to our staff since she arrived. Whether it is working directly with our students or within the community, it is guaranteed that she will provide value to whatever she is involved with. Most recently, she empowered a group of students to create and carry out a presentation to the Lake Braddock community (both students and families) regarding Resiliency During COVID. She met multiple times to offer feedback to this committee of students, never taking control and only coaching them to their potential. On the night of the presentation (which was a huge success thanks to her support) she also followed with a presentation of her own directed at parents. None of this would have occurred if it wasn't for the direct influence of Mrs. Pack. Lake Braddock and its community are fortunate to have Mrs. Janene Pack."

- Tony DiBari, Lake Braddock SS

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Kristin Matus-Kelso, Lake Braddock SS

"There are people who engross themselves in the work that helps things get done and make people's lives easier, without ever getting (nor wanting) credit for their work. Kristin Matus-Kelso is a shining example of this. Simply put, the HS SPED department at Lake Braddock Secondary School would come to a grinding halt without her help. Whether it is assisting with scheduling of IEPs or tracking due dates/submission deadlines for teachers while sending out cheerful reminders to case managers, and everything in between, Kristin does it all. A school the size of Lake Braddock brings not only a high volume of work but a variety of personalities and circumstances, and Kristin does an incredible job supporting both the community and staff. We would be at a loss without Kristin at Lake Braddock, and consider ourselves lucky to have her."

- Tony DiBari, Lake Braddock SS

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Yuqing Yao, Carson MS

"I have a 7th grader who is taking Chinese as an elective. I am pleased that he is enjoying and willing to take notes even when the teacher is not there to check on him. We put out Chinese New Year decoration on Sunday and were so surprises and thankful that he actually recognized one of the Chinese words on a scroll and shared the meaning with us.  We were like "WOW" as we have the scroll for many years and I don't think our child really cares what is on there. I am so thankful for Ms. Yao. She has been so patient and polite even when the students are not answering her questions or remain quiet.  She will try to encourage without judgment  Love!!! I know virtual is really hard for both teachers and students especially when these raising 7th graders have not gotten a chance to meet each other. My 7th grader had signed up for Chinese 2 for next year."

- a Carson MS Parent

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Lindsay Puffer, Lake Braddock SS

"Getting a new student at any point during the year can be stressful. During virtual learning, it is even more challenging. Getting students logged in and have access to all necessary technology is overwhelming! Lindsay took time out of her advisory class to meet with my new math student and helped him get logged in to all of our programs: Google Classroom, Edpuzzle, etc. Thank you so much! This made my new math student's first day so much more seamless!"

- Maya Nardone, Lake Braddock SS

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Elizabeth Schrader, Sangster ES

"Ms. Schrader is a learning disabilities teacher at Sangster. Last year she “pushed in” to help another student in my son’s 5th-grade class.  My son and the other student became good friends. This year they are in different 6th-grade classes, though. I learned today that Ms. Schrader emailed my son and his 6th-grade teacher to arrange for my son and the other student to get together online & chat during their asynchronous time. I thought that was so nice & heartwarming that Ms. Schader did that. I have been worried about my son’s lack of socialization during virtual school and it was really nice that she was able to do something to help meet this need of the students. Thank you!"

- a Sangster ES Parent

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Sarah Leisersohn, Orange Hunt ES

"Ms. L, as my daughter calls her, has been meeting with my fifth grader individually for a month to help her with anxiety and other school issues. Those weekly visits have become the highlight of my daughter's week. She looks forward to them and is always so much happier after their talks. Today, though, Ms. L facilitated a "lunch bunch" group for my daughter where she could see and share lunch with her friends. After lunch, the report was, "I like school again!" From my first contact with Ms. L, I could tell that she was special and that she genuinely cared about the students at OHES. I am so thankful my daughter and the OHES community has her."

- an Orange Hunt ES Parent

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Teresa Talebian, Timberlane ES

"Thank you Teresa for being a strong Collaborative Team Lead for the Timberlane early childhood team. Your organization, focus, and facilitation skills have brought a positive climate to meetings that may not always be everyone's favorite part of the week. Your willingness to try new things and share your knowledge and experience with our program is appreciated"

- Erin Snell, Bull Run Early Childhood Center

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Shannon Costello, Eagle View ES

"Shannon Costello has been part of the Eagle View staff and community for several years. She is currently a 3rd Level IV AAP teacher. Shannon's knowledge of both the 3rd and AAP curriculum is extensive and she seamlessly weaves both into her daily instructional practices. As a parent in the community, she has sat on the PTA board and worked to bring fun community events into our school. She is dedicated and hardworking. You can see the excitement she builds in her students every day. She embeds critical and creative thinking as well as other POG attributes regularly and has fostered a climate of collaboration. Students shine and this is due to the love and effort she pours in each and every day. So fortunate to have Shannon on our Eagle View team!"

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Ashley Pontera, Daniels Run ES

"Ashley has been a tremendous addition to our team at Daniels Run. Ashley is new to our school this year and she dove headfirst into our work with students and families as our social worker. She has assisted families in getting food, clothing, the internet, and many other basic needs. She has built great relationships with families which have led to important services such as students receiving eye exams. Ashley serves on our local screening team as well as our MTSS team and provides a valuable perspective. We are fortunate to have Ashley serving our DRES community!"

- Christopher Smith, Daniels Run ES

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Kim Cox, Lake Braddock SS

"Kim Cox joined our staff about two months ago and has already made a positive impact on our school. Kim provides exceptional customer service to our parents and is building positive relationships with our community. She goes above and beyond to help a parent, student, or teacher. Thank you, Kim, for all you do!"

- Ana Cingel, Lake Braddock SS

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Marcia Salgado Campos and Claudia Dieguez, Lake Braddock SS

"Mrs. Salgado Campos and Mrs. Dieguez go above and beyond their duties to ensure our Spanish speaking students and families have all of the necessary resources. They always step in to translate, call home, or attend any meeting when needed. They are outstanding professionals who go above and beyond for students every day! Thank you, Marcia and Claudia!"

- Ana Cingel, Lake Braddock SS

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Christina Norico, Little Run ES

"I just want to recognize Mrs. Norico for the wonderful job she is doing with our kiddos. I was particularly worried about my daughter and how she would adapt to online classes but Mrs. Norico has done a wonderful job and my daughter has done very well in school. These are certainly different times and I wanted to recognize her and let you guys know that she is a gem. We love our school and the staff at the school has been wonderful as well and even our music, art, Spanish and our P.E. Teachers. You would think how in heaven can you effectively teach but you know they are doing their best and I am so great full for all of them. The principal Mrs. Mohr is wonderful and has a great staff. Let’s keep on treading the waters as we continue with the last half of the school year and hope we can all be physically back in school next year."

- a Little Run ES Parent

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Mark Purdy, Lake Braddock SS

"Although Mark Purdy is a middle school math teacher, he saw the line of cars waiting to receive their Academic Award at a Drive-By presentation. Parents took videos of their children receiving the award. Mark volunteered to help expedite the line of cars by helping with the award distribution. He was also welcomed by his former students. Mark was instrumental and welcomed in the presentation!"

- Lynda Samek-Smith, Lake Braddock SS

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Jacquie Naughton, Lake Braddock SS

"Jacquie came to help with the Academic Awards Drive-by Presentation. At times, there were 15 to 20 cars lined up for students to receive their award. She weathered the cold to help two of her fellow counselors. Her assistance was definitely appreciated by all. She helped to expedite the line of cars!"

- Lynda Samek-Smith, Lake Braddock SS

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Elizabeth Leung, Cooper MS

"Ms. Leung generously offered to help fix my student's instrument and arranged to meet him at the school. My son is excited about being in middle school. He has been to his new middle school three times: once as a rising 6th grader to learn about electives last February, one evening for school photos in December, and on Monday to meet with Ms. Leung, his strings teacher. Monday was the first time he has interacted in person with any of his exceptional teachers this year and it was such a positive experience. He was grateful she was willing to help, excited to meet her, and delighted to be at his school. We have been impressed with Ms. Leung's ability to connect with students and make their online experience fun and engaging, and by the improvement, our son has made this year. We are especially appreciative of the time she made to help him out on Monday."

- a Cooper MS Parent

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Sarah Hertenberger, Kings Park ES

"My second-grader was overwhelmed with a math test and signed off early. Miss Hertenberger emailed right away. And even though it was after instructional time, when she heard my student could use some extra help, she walked her through the entire test. She was warm and positive. She recognized my child's good thinking and encouraged her to face the challenges. My child could have ended the day in frustration and tears, but instead, she felt empowered and proud of her own hard work. She even told me she couldn't believe Miss Hertenberger spent that much time just helping her. She knew it was above and beyond. We are grateful every day for Miss Hertenberger's warmth and love and support. This is just one SMALL example of how she makes my second grader feel important and seen and resilient."

- a Kings Park ES Parent

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Sean Pettit, Energy Zone Food Service Center

"I would like to thank you and your staff for everything they had done for me. I show up and the dockworkers always make the start of my day delightful. Your food service workers are a pleasure to work with. Thank you and your staff for making my day every day. Love to see everyone every day."

- Barbara Anderson, Lorton Center

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Dell McDonald, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Dell McDonald is the most patient and kind person. He is calm and precise when helping with any of the IT issues I've had this school year. He never appears bothered or put out in any way when explaining things or helping me or our students. I appreciate all he does for IAS."

- Ann Gary, Transition Support Resource Center - Fairfax

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Dani Sayre, Lake Braddock SS

"Dani is an amazing Finance Technician. She works hard to get every member of our staff what they need when they need it. We have a large staff! She juggles so much work and is taking on so much extra herself right now. She always stops what she is doing to help anyone that comes to her office. She is happy, energetic, and full of spirit! She helps keep us all on track, helps us with what we need, and is always looking out for everyone! We are so lucky to have her at LBSS!"

- Michael Luley, Lake Braddock SS

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Thomas Holland, Hayfield SS

"The 7th-grade Health and PE team was teaching a lesson on school safety and security. In anticipation of that lesson, we asked the students to submit any security-related questions that they had. After we compiled the list, we asked Mr. Holland, our head of Security, if he could record some answers so that the students knew who he was and to hear it from the source. He was kind enough to record a thirty-minute video introducing himself and his team to our students and also answered all of the questions that they submitted. It is so indicative of the type of security team that he manages.  His team is always polite and friendly and most of all VISIBLE in the halls. This was a great opportunity for our students that will be new to the building to be able to associate an important face to an important name whenever we return to the building."

- Hayfield SS 7th Grade PE Team

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Chase Lanzendorf, Hayfield SS

"Mr. Lanzendorf has done a wonderful job adapting to virtual learning/teaching this year. I love how excited my daughter gets about his class! He has found creative ways to help them learn through "doing" and engage students in class discussions and group experiments."

- a Hayfield SS Parent

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Cory Apps, Marshall HS

"Coach Apps is a substitute teacher at Marshall High school and the head coach for the wrestling team. I have never had a teacher/coach ever have more of an impact on who I am and who I will grow up to be. He always sets an example for the students around, promoting hard work and never giving up whenever he has the chance. Without him, I seriously doubt that I would have the grades I do today or put in the work that I do. He's helped me grow as a person even helping me push myself to become a district champ and turning from the awkward person I was in my sophomore year to a team captain and a leader. The date I put for this experience isn't accurate as he has been helping me and others for as long as he's been at Marshall. I wrote this because he deserves much more than to just be a coach and a substitute teacher. He may be leaving Marshall as there aren't any positions open there, and, although it is already my last year here, I'd hate to see my friends here lose such a great part of the school."

- a Marshall HS Student

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Jeremy Doxer, Lorton Center

"I nominated Jeremy for the Outstanding Employee Award, and in my excitement neglected to verify the criteria. As it turned out Jeremy would have won the award had he been in his current position for the required year. Jeremy deserves a CARES award for being an OUTSTANDING Coordinator. He goes above and beyond to make certain each employee is treated fairly. Every employee I interviewed while writing my nomination said how great he is, and how they feel he's got their back. There were many stories where Jeremy took time to help employees to better themselves. The fact that Jeremy still jumps in a bus when needed, is a perfect example of his "All Hands on Deck" motto. I will be nominating Jeremy again this year for the Outstanding Award. We are fortunate to have him as coordinator, particularly during this stressful time. Jeremy is the perfect example of an employee who CARES."

- Barbara Davis, Lorton Center

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Mike Dougherty, Lake Braddock SS

"Coach Doc has gone above and beyond preparing the Lake Braddock weight room for the return of our students/athletes. Over the past year, the lack of use has caused some pretty bad oxidation of our metal plates/bars/etc.  Mike and some of his assistant coaches have completely refurbished/repainted/rebranded our weight room to get it ready for use. It's beautiful.  Thanks, Coach!!!"

- Bob Digby, Lake Braddock SS

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Gina Yockey, Lemon Road es

"Ms. Yockey has always treated each student with a smile, patience, and a good sense of humor! Whenever our son needed help, she was always there as a helping hand to make everything go smooth and sailing! One time, my son got so excited about a lesson about how the colonists were taxed a long time ago, and he called me to come and see the lesson. I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone active in the chat and Ms. Yockey teaching enthusiastically even in distance learning. I often have to tell my son to be a bit quieter because he's so into the lesson Ms. Yockey teaches, and that really shows me that Ms. Yockey is a true lion at LRES and she is one of the people who really deserve this recognition."

- a Lemon Road ES Parent

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David Kontaxis, Longfellow MS

"Mr. Kontaxis goes above and beyond to support his students and their families. Before school even started, he was reaching out to students to make a connection. His calm, encouraging demeanor is authentic and supportive. He really gets to know his students and works hard to keep them on track. In addition, he understands that their needs may involve organizational and academic support - as well as support for emotional needs. He is a very caring and honest individual who puts aside the small stuff to focus on the big picture. In each and every communication with students and parents, Mr. Kontaxis shows that he cares and it means so much during these difficult times. We appreciate him!"

- a Longfellow MS Parent

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Barbara Anderson, Renee Chin, Young Jun, Lorton Center, and Lorton Station ES -  Bus 347

"Bus 347 ladies are all so wonderful, keep up the great work! Thank you for what you do!"

- a Lorton Station Parent

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Meredith Shields, Sara Scott, Jarin Hawkins, Cherry Run ES

"It's not just one day, it's every day and we're so very thankful for all three of you wonderful caring teachers. You help George and me so much when our 2nd grader gives us a hard time when he's scared, frustrated, doesn't believe in himself. Or he feels different from the other kids because of his speech delays. He's has come a long way and with the learning you give him he's finally getting better not 100%, but I'll take it. Thank you for all you do."

- a Cherry Run ES Parent

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Kathy Rehm, West Springfield HS

"Retiring art teacher Kathy Rehm will be missed. She offered opportunities to try out mediums and expressions that students wouldn't have been able to do on their own. Her art history class was the most fun and engaging AP course my child took and was the "easiest 5 (she) ever got on an AP exam." Her classes "made a huge impact on me in school and they were hands down my favorite." Thank you Kathy for devoting your gift to our public school."

- Amy Liberty, West Springfield HS

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Alli Page and Kaylyn Gallagher, Lake Braddock SS

"Both Kaylyn Gallagher and Allison Page have been doing amazing things in their teamed class this year. Kaylyn and Allison have worked with our student population who receive high levels of support. During this time of an alternative learning environment, both Kaylyn and Alli have been adventurous in their instruction, creative in their assessment, and empathetic to their students' level of need. In a year that has been unique and requires flexibility, creativity, and love, both Kaylyn and Alli have provided an abundance of all. Lake Braddock is fortunate to have both Ms. Gallagher and Ms. Page."

- Tony DiBari, Lake Braddock SS

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Barbara Anderson, Renee Chin, Young Jun, Lorton Center, and Hayfield SS - Bus 347

"The ladies who work on the food bus 347 are great!  They are very personable and really care about the people they are providing food too. They are doing a real service to the community with smiles on their faces."

- A Hayfield SS Parent

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Tara Petrovic, Gatehouse Admin Center

"As she is the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Region 4 Leadership Team, we frequently reach out to Ms. Petrovic. Requests range from setting up appointments with region leadership to clarifying informational items and everything in between. Without fail, Tara provides quick, friendly, and informative responses. She is never too busy to answer and is extremely patient as communication goes back and forth, always making sure that requests and issues are completely resolved. While I can only imagine the volume of things that hit her desk or her e-mail, whenever we work with Tara she makes us feel as if we are a top priority. Lake Braddock as a school community, but certainly FCPS as a whole is fortunate to have Tara Petrovic."

 - Tony DiBari, Lake Braddock SS

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Debbie Trenchard, Rosa Dobarco, Tracy Hutchison, and Sarah Lee, Fort Hunt ES

"Shout out to our fabulous office staff - Debbie, Rosa, Tracy, and Sarah. They are there every day answering all the parent phone calls, dealing with attendance issues, handing out work packets and supplies, helping with laptop swaps - even handling some tech issues over the phone. They do all this with a smile peeking out from behind their masks. They do a lot to make our jobs easier, most often without us even knowing. Keep up the great work ladies and thank you for all you do to keep our school running smoothly every day."

- Cory Yeager, Fort Hunt ES

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Franque Minor, Forte Center

"Mr. Minor assisted me with surplus equipment needed for my office. He is quick to respond to my email and schedule an appointment to show me what was available."

- Jessica Navas, Gatehouse Admin Center

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Alicia Hawks and Sheri Kiley, Fort Hunt ES

"SUPER big shout out to Alicia Hawks and Sheri Kiley. Alicia has been a dedicated regular in my class since the first day of school. She assessed nearly all of my students and taught many of them to think beyond first-grade math standards. I can see the impact! Moreover, she´s a tech whiz… I honestly don´t know how I would have gotten as far as I have in this new virtual mode of teaching without her patient tutelage in the use of all these apps! Mil gracias Alicia! Sheri has gotten down in the trenches as well to assess, reinforce and reteach my students (and me!). Major support where it's needed! We do lose some physical, personal connections with all this online teaching, but the teamwork has never been better… thanks in part to these two!"

 - Allison Verich, Fort Hunt ES

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Rosa Ureña, Thomas Jefferson Technology HS

"Rosa is an experienced teacher hired this year by FCPS. She has proven over and over again to be task-oriented and determined to make the best lessons for her students. She connected with her new team and collaborates well with her colleagues. She is a hard worker and always showed her positive attitude even when technology and workload were challenging. She has worked endless hours in pursuit of effective lessons to keep students engaged. She routinely asks questions to gain a better understanding of new software programs and instructional concepts. She reaches out to resource staff and teammates and is willing to try and take risks. We are thrilled to have Rosa as part of our team and family. We are grateful for her dedication!"

- Nannette Mateo, Thomas Jefferson Technology HS 

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Scott Brabrand, Gatehouse Admin Center

"Thank you for all you do! This note is to recognize those who arranged the INOVA Vaccine event. It was well organized, professionally set up, and significantly seamless in efforts. The staff was very friendly and polite. I am so impressed and pay hearty tribute to those who arranged this event!"

- Amjad Ghazala, Mount Vernon Woods ES

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Crista Ziegler, South County MS

"My daughter is in Mrs. Ziegler's English 7 Honors class and she frequently tells me how much she loves Mrs. Ziegler because she makes virtual learning so much fun. She likes her book talks, and book recommendations.  She likes her "chill" personality and says she is very nice and down-to-earth. My daughter said the other students in the class frequently discuss that this is their favorite class and teacher. In this virtual world, it is sometimes hard for teachers to know if they are reaching students, so I wanted to give this shout out to Ms. Ziegler that she is doing a great job."

- a South County MS Parent

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Kimberly Rolince, Transition Support Resource Center - Fairfax

"I work with a superhero. She goes by Mrs. Orlic, but I know her real name is “Kim Possible.” In her spare time, she works to diminish barriers to our student’s success. She willfully battles the supervillains’ inequality, lack of access, and poverty. In partnership with Mrs. Gary, they advocate for our students’ needs. She is giving of her time, heart, and energy to the cause of helping students succeed. She shares joy in their successes and empathizes with their losses. She oozes passion and I am elated to have the opportunity to work with her. Students need teachers like her in the world. She believes positive change is possible! This is why I know her as Kim possible."

- LaToya Prescod, Transition Support Resource Center - Fairfax

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Joan Swanson, Fairhill ES

"I'm amazed by how much great energy Mrs. Swanson has when teaching math. We also appreciate how she just doesn't give her students a list of assignments to do but rather will help them figure out good time management skills in order to get those things done. I like how she checks in with each student making sure they are up to date with what they need to do. Really appreciate her encouragement! Thank you!"

- a Fairhill ES Parent

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Leana Jensen, South County HS

"I wanted to give a shout out to Ms. Jensen who is my son's English 9 teacher this year.  The class has been learning how to write an opinion paragraph about a book they are reading, and my son came up to me and said that he now understands how to organize and write a paragraph as opposed to before when he would just put a bunch of words together.  He was excited because learning this will definitely be useful later on in life.  He said he will now be able to write a good essay. In this time of virtual learning when so many teachers are not able to get the student feedback, in the same way, they would in person, I really wanted to make sure that Ms. Jensen knows her teaching efforts have not gone unnoticed and she is making a difference in the lives of her students. Thank you, Ms. Jenson!"

- a South County HS Parent

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Karen Rabb, Eagle View ES

"Karen is new to Eagle View this year and teaches 2nd grade. She eagerly and quickly connected with her new team. She is a hard worker and always showed her positive attitude even when technology and workload were challenging. She routinely asks questions to gain a better understanding of instructional concepts. She reaches out to resource staff and teammates and is willing to try and take risks. She has made great connections with students and families. We are so happy to have her here and are grateful for her hard work and dedication!"

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Mirae Daly, Eagle View ES

"Mirae is eager to step into several integral roles. She has been instrumental in leading the planning and communication of our school's FLE delivery in the virtual environment to our staff and families. She is also a core member of our school's Behavior MTSS Team which has worked to revamp our programming and lessons. Mirae’s passion for students and our Eagle View Community shines through in her communication, collaboration, and problem-solving."

- Beth Levy, Eagle View ES

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 Megan McDonald, McNair ES

"Mrs. McDonald is a true team player and a lifesaver! At the beginning of January, I was out sick for 8 days. The other members of my family were also sick. Mrs. McDonald stepped right up and took over the teaching responsibilities while I was ill. I was able to rest, recover and take care of my family without any worries because of her. Thank you Mrs. McDonald for your help and hard work. The students and I are lucky to have you as a teacher and co-teacher!"

- Rachel Haymond, McNair ES

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Mary Beth Dillane, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Mary Beth planned and facilitated an engaging and meaningful activity for our community of Title I Math Elementary Resource Teachers. We invited Mary Beth to share the work she has done around "Claim, Support, Question". This structure centers on student's observations, ideas, and wonderings. It encourages students to think critically and joyfully about the mathematics around them. After Mary Beth modeled the activity, she pulled back the curtain to reveal planning considerations and facilitator moves. She built the capacity of Title I Math Leaders and provided resources that empowered them to try it out with teachers! Mary Beth brings so much joy and love of learning to our math community! She is a dedicated Title I Math Leader, and we are so grateful for her time and expertise!"

- Kelly Halpin and the Title I Math Team, Willow Oaks Admin Center

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Beth Miller, South County HS

"Beth Miller has gone above and beyond to support her students. Beth has been incredibly flexible, modifying her personal schedule on multiple occasions in order to be present at meetings. In addition to being a participating member of student meetings, she has asked for supporting documentation in order to make sure that she is a well-informed member of the team, and her knowledge and expertise has been a huge support for her students."

- Samantha Tolan, South County HS

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Rachel O'Leary, Haycock ES

"Ms. O'Leary is committed to keeping equity at the center of every lesson she teaches. As the events of January 6 unfolded, she stayed up late preparing slides to help guide a discussion with her sixth graders. She also posted the slides and resources early the next morning so that other teachers at our school could use or adapt them in their own conversations. In a survey of classroom teachers, 1/3 of our staff used the resources Ms. O'Leary posted. Ms. O'Leary makes space in her day to foster relationships with students so that they feel comfortable and her virtual classroom is a safe space for respectful conversations about tough topics. She serves as the co-Equity lead at our school and has led many PDs and written regular staff news posts to encourage our staff in their growth with Equity."

- Allison Kelly, Haycock ES

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Ginger Albertson, Eagle View ES

"Ginger Albertson has been serving the Eagle View community as a music teacher since 2011. She is uniquely trained in Kodaly and has worked to incorporate these techniques into her classes. She routinely uses instruments, videos, and has learned to use various technology platforms in supporting students in the virtual world. She has fostered several positive relationships with students and families. She has mentored student teachers who have gone on to become successful music teachers within FCPS. Ginger is the force behind our choral program and concerts and is the loudest cheerleader as students go through all-county chorus. Her dedication and efforts to promote music instruction and develop musicians and encourage talent are commendable. We are so very lucky to have her here at Eagle View!"

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Howard Charles, Kent Gardens ES

"My son's teacher was out for the day so our class was being directed by our secondary teacher and our instructional assistant, Mr. Charles. Having school virtually allows families to see interactions that they normally wouldn't be privy to. It has been a treat, especially in the interaction between Mr. Charles and my son. I didn't hear how it began but when I walked in, my son seemed confused about how to play a game that the teacher taught a previous day.  Mr. Charles took my son into a breakout room which was a wonderful idea. At other times my son has been distracted from his own work while discussions were going on between students and teachers, so the breakout room ensured the other students could keep more focused on their work. This way Mr. Charles could take his time re-explaining how to "make 10" out of playing cards. When Zach still didn't seem to understand, Mr. Charles was able to adapt his explanation (not a skill of all teachers), into a different way to accomplish the goal of the game. What really impressed me was his gentle nature and super encouraging, "you got this," statements toward my son. I think it put my son at ease and allowed him to ask questions and take his time to really understand Mr. Charles' explanation. Mr. Charles really takes significant time, uses extreme patience and an uplifting attitude towards his students, and is an amazing asset to our class and school. My son says his favorite things about Mr. Charles is how he is kind and calm and that he takes his time. He also makes sure to pay attention to raised hands to answer questions quickly.  Thank you, Mr. Charles, for being what our society craves during this time of uncertainty. Your warmth is deeply appreciated with our youngest students."

- a Kent Gardens ES Parent

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CeCe Lowry, Gatehouse Admin Center

"CeCe goes above and beyond even though she has a busy job. She always takes the time to answer all my questions even when they aren't related to MyTime. CeCe will go out of her way to find the answer and connect me with the correct office. She always finds a way to help me. FCPS is lucky in having her!!"

- Adriana Barreto, Greenbriar East ES

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Adriana Lopez Avila, Gatehouse Admin Center

"Shout out to Adriana who goes above and beyond her duties. She is always looking for a way to assist, even sometimes when it is not related to her area of expertise. She is always willing to find the answer. She has a positive attitude and it's always available to help. The substitute office is lucky in having her. Thank you for helping me making my job running!"

- Adriana Barreto, Greenbriar East ES

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Denisa Linte, Daniels Run ES

"We couldn't be more thrilled to have Ms. Denisa Linte join our Daniels Run ES family this year. It is no surprise why she came so highly recommended once you see her in action. She is an amazing first-year teacher who cares deeply about all her students. Recently she organized a wonderful opportunity for ALL of the fourth-grade students and staff to hear a mini-concert by Robert Oppelt: Principal Bass player for the National Symphony Orchestra and his wife Nicolette Oppelt: who played for the National Symphony Orchestra and now is a freelance flutist. The Oppelt's treated the entire 4th grade to a brief concert from their living room and also discussed their instruments, music, and training with the students. It was quite evident even in a virtual setting how much the students enjoyed this and had great questions for the Oppelt's at the end of their time with them. Ms. Linte was responsible for organizing all of this and we are so grateful for her doing it. Thank you Ms. Linte!"

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

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Cathy Lahr, Oak Hill ES

"Cathy has recently transitioned to a new position, AART while still maintaining her part-time Reading Specialist position.  Having worked with Cathy for about a decade I was always impressed with the way she supported teachers and students. In her new position, AART, she has done a phenomenal job. Starting this position in November, during AAP screening time and teaching virtually, Cathy has been a wealth of support to students and teachers. My students are engaged in level III lessons that align with our 4th-grade curriculum and Cathy always encourage the students to dig-deeper with their thinking. Because I have 5 students going through the screening process, I have had endless questions for Cathy. She is so quick to respond and meet with me in BBCU.  She is working non-stop for the students and staff at OHES. We are grateful for Cathy for all she is doing for OHES."

- Shanan Conlan, Oak Hill ES

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Brian Silva, Hutchison ES

"Mr. Silva is a dedicated teacher who keeps students excited and engaged for movement in PE. In addition to greeting students with a calm and genuine happiness in each class, he collaborates with school staff and students to post a weekly workout for the community to participate and remain active. Mr. Silva recognizes students for their unique abilities and never fails to provide time for students to share their insights and connections. He regularly makes time to engage in student lunch bunches and make personal connections. Mr. Silva has been an exceptional colleague and friend to work with. Thank you for all you do!"

- Manda Tirado, Hutchison ES

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Christine McLaughlin, Lees Corner ES

"My child has had the privilege of being in Mrs. McLaughlin's class this year. My daughter has learning and emotional challenges and has really struggled to find her voice at school. Mrs. McLaughlin's acceptance and perseverance have been absolutely essential to my daughter's blooming ability to self-advocate. Her confidence this year has taken off and I am certain that it is largely due to her teacher's devotion to being a partner in her students' learning. Mrs. McLaughlin has created an incredible virtual learning environment that my daughter looks forward to working in every day and one in which she knows that her voice matters."

 - a Lees Corner ES Parent

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Lesha Edwards and Christiana, Hybla Valley ES

"Lesha and Christiana are the technology leaders of our school. They have been nothing shy of amazing with our students and all the technology issues throughout the school year;  whether they are big or small. They both are always willing to help find a solution and will make sure there is a solution as quickly as possible. The amount of heart and soul these wonderful women have for our students is remarkable and inspiring."

- Rachael Disheroon, Hybla Valley ES

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John Simpson, West Springfield ES

"Mr. Simpson demonstrated a genuine interest in the success of our child by ensuring that he was placed in the appropriate Math class. Mr. Simpson engaged in multiple discussions with us to understand our child’s background since our child was new to the school and closely monitored our child’s performance over time to determine the best Math class for him. We would like to recognize Mr. Simpson for his dedication and  caring attitude to his students."

- a West Springfield ES Parent

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Melissa Dutcher, West Springfield HS

"A heartfelt thank you to Ms. Dutcher for her ongoing work with my 11th Grader. She has gone above and beyond to provide instructional supports and strategies to ensure my child's progress with written communication. On January 18th, a federal and teacher holiday, Ms. Dutcher reached out to my son and spent an hour with him revising and editing a paper for DE History. Ms. Dutcher's dedication and commitment to my son's success, even in the midst of a pandemic and on a holiday, is one of the many reasons why FCPS is a premier school system."

- a West Springfield HS Parent

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Erika McIntyre, Rocky Run MS

"Erika went out of her way to help me retrieve a document to submit for a time-sensitive deadline. She was so kind, supportive, and helpful. Thank you!"

- Amy Goodloe, Rocky Run MS

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Susan Savage, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Patience - understanding - acute knowledge - dedication … are all attributes I would use to describe Susan Savage. In an effort to understand FOCUS and the new VIM system I got myself into a bit of a pit that I could not get myself out of. Susan was there over Google Meet to walk me through each of the invoices to verify the information before sending it to the Gatehouse team for processing. This was not just a one-off, but throughout the week as things were sent back and I had to verify information in VIM. Her tone and educational mindset to help me through the steps was a true blessing. She has been and will continue to be, my go-to person for direction on all things finance just because of her caring and personal nature. We are truly blessed to have her in ISD and she deserves more recognition than I can give her here."

- Brigid Williams, Willow Oaks Admin Center

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Kathy Lehner, Riverside ES

"I am so lucky to work with such an amazing IA. Whether it is coming up with input for lessons for our students, covering if there is a technology issue, pulling students for intervention and just being an all-around support for our classroom, Kathy does it all. This has been a challenging year for all of us, but she has made it so much more doable. Thank you Kathy for all your amazing hard work!"

- Lorri Hallenbeck, Riverside ES

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Zoya Lucas, Daniels Run ES

"Zoya Lucas embodies the ideals of the FCPS Cares program. We are so very fortunate to have her as a member of the Daniels Run ES family. Mrs. Lucas's commitment to not only her ESOL students but to all students in our building is extraordinary. Mrs. Lucas works tirelessly and often puts in so many additional hours beyond the school day to ensure that every student and family she works with has equitable access and opportunity. While Mrs. Lucas' title is an ESOL teacher, she is so much more than that. Mrs. Lucas is a confidant, mentor, and friend to many of her colleagues. She is a gifted educator who understands the pedagogy but more importantly understands the value and importance of student relationships and how that impacts their social-emotional and academics as well. Mrs. Lucas is a staunch advocate for all students and we greatly appreciate all her insights as we support students Mrs. Lucas does this all with such grace and ease and always with a smile. Mrs. Lucas is truly an FCPS employee who cares deeply and we are so fortunate to know her. There is so much more I could write however I hope this offers you a small glimpse into the amazing person she is. Thank you, Zoya!"

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

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Rachael Smith, Nicole Cancilla, Charmaine Pritchard, and Sheri Kiley, Fort Hunt ES

"I just wanted to take a moment to recognize Rachael Smith, Nicole Cancilla, Charmaine Pritchard, and Sheri Kiley for their collaboration and leadership at our first Fort Hunt Virtual Literacy Night. Thank you for your commitment to supporting parents and strengthening our connection with the PTA and the wider Fort Hunt Community. Teamwork makes the dream work!"

- Marion Eckhause, Fort Hunt ES

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Nina McKelvey, Fort Hunt ES

"Mrs. Michael has been a fantastic helper and role model to Mrs. Smith’s class during my short time at Fort Hunt Elementary. She brings not only a knowledge of our procedures but a wonderful level of professionalism. Her notes have always been helpful and insightful. I enjoy working with her and learning from her. Way to bring it, Mrs. Michael!"

- Bill Hurd, Fort Hunt ES

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Jen Barry, South County MS

"When the information for COVID vaccines was shared with county staff, Jen took the immediate initiative to set up the custodians with access to the INOVA website to get their appointments. Knowing our custodial staff is in the building every day and at risk for exposure, Jen wanted to sure they were able to get appointments as soon as possible. Jen always has other peoples' safety in mind and it shows in how much she cares for her colleagues."

- Miranda Hendershot, South County MS

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Kayla Birnie, Oakton HS

"As a freshman, my teenager has been struggling with online learning and is feeling very discouraged. His English teacher, Ms. Birnie, has shown incredible patience and dedication to helping my son improve his writing skills. As a result of her support, he is gaining confidence in his writing skills and feeling less discouraged. We really appreciate Ms. Birnie’s commitment to helping our child.  She is a truly caring teacher during this difficult time of online learning."

- an Oakton HS Parent

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Sue Rogers and Purvis Dawson, Gatehouse Admin Center

"Sue and Purvis supported Whitman administration by providing critical safety and security information during our required Tabletop exercise. They have an incredibly calming and reassuring demeanor while discussing sensitive topics. We are so fortunate to have these professionals as part of the FCPS family."

- Craig Herring, Whitman MS

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Alyson Nagle and Carrie Verba, Irving MS

"Ms. Nagle and Ms. Verba deserve our most sincere and enthusiastic thanks for going above and beyond to do what's best for their students. Even at the end of the day, on a Friday afternoon, they were willing to send extra communication to a family to ensure that a student could take advantage of a long weekend to catch up on missing assignments. They are strong advocates for students, families, and their colleagues. I am thrilled to be working alongside, and learning from, them both."

- Emily Cincinnati, Irving MS

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Natalie DeBaldo, Carson MS

"I have a 7th grader at Rachel Carson and I am so thankful for Ms. DeBaldo. The county has modifications to the curriculum due to visual/Covid.  Ms. DeBaldo goes beyond the curriculum and creates lesson videos and practice materials with the solution on all the topics that are not going to cover this year.  My husband has been watching all the videos with our 7th grader and making sure he learns materials that are not covered in class for the past few months.  So so thankful for Ms. DeBaldo who also reply email to both parents and student within hours."

- A Carson MS Parent

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Melissa Modarressi, Bull Run Early Childhood Center

"Melissa came in as a guest speaker to our cohort to explain the collaboration between our department and her department. She did an excellent job of explaining her job, FAPE, and IDEA. Melissa gave us an insight into her job and showed us the teamwork and rapport she has with the transportation department. She enlightened the whole group on many things and you can see the light bulbs going off on so many people's faces while she was speaking. She had a positive attitude using humor and professionalism to capture the attention of the cohort.  Thank you so much Melissa for coming to our cohort and helping us understand more about your department."

- Rachelle Wigenton, Lorton Center

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Christine Sheehan, Vienna ES

"Mrs. Sheehan is amazingly responsive to our questions and very proactive at keeping us informed. Even during teaching hours when we ran into IT issues and emailed her, she responded right away. She also took the time to meet with us and provided insightful information about our child and how to supplement their learning in this challenging virtual world. The holiday postcard she took so much effort to include every student’s face demonstrating they are still one class “together” was much appreciated by my child. We can’t appreciate enough how caring she is of her students and being understanding of parents also."

- a Vienna ES Parent

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Jeanne Martinez, Vienna ES

"Mrs. Martinez took the extra time to meet with us and was able to determine from the discussion some adjustments to the 2nd-grade teaching model to create better engagement for the classroom students. Also, she mailed her students' physical postcards with some very encouraging messages. Virtual learning is hard and her extra efforts make them feel very special and cared for."

- a Vienna ES Parent

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Pamela Walter, Stonecroft Transportation Center

"Pamela Walter, Area 4 Transportation Coordinator, once again exhibited her outstanding leadership skills this weekend by immediately reacting to a situation that endangered the health and safety of our students and staff. At 10:30 pm on Friday night, Pamela was informed of a driver being over-ruled by an athletic coach regarding the implementation of the Mitigating Strategies on her bus. This coach demanded that the students be allowed to lower their masks to eat and drink on our school bus where it is already not possible to meet the six-foot social distance goal. By 11 am the next morning – a Saturday, Ms. Walters had received a commitment that the athletic specialists will send out a note to all Athletic Directors to confirm that our drivers must be allowed to enforce the mitigating safety measures on their buses to include no drinking or eating on the bus while being transported to athletic events. Further that the specific school and coach will be contacted to ensure no repeat violations will be expected. Pamela’s actions on this incident confirm what we have all seen before in her; she is focused on the safety and well-being of her employees and the students that we are entrusted to transport every day and she acts quickly and decisively on their behalf. Ms. Walter deserves the honor of a CARES award for every one of the aspects that the CARES award represents."

- Dave Swan, Stonecroft Transportation Center

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Laurie Marichak, Hollin Meadows ES

"After winter break, both my kids' laptops were having some technical issues. I submitted IT tickets and within a very short amount of time, I had a personal email response from HMES SBTS, Ms. Marichak. One of the laptops had to be exchanged twice. Over the past two weeks, Ms. Marichak has been very responsive in communicating over email to help troubleshoot and schedule appointments for the exchanges. Despite everything she does to support the entire school, she was very attentive and responsive to working with families to make sure her students have a working laptop. Thank you for the great customer service Ms. Marichak!"

- a Hollin Meadows ES Parent

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Ali Resch, Hollin Meadows ES

"I sent my son's teacher, Miss Resch, an email earlier in the day on a Friday, and after school, I was surprised to get a response asking if we could talk on the phone vs email. Miss Resch could have not responded until next week but instead, on a Friday after school after a busy week of distance learning, she took the time to call a parent and have a conversation. Also, earlier in the school year, my son wanted "real mail" for his birthday, and friends, family, and his former HMES teachers sent him cards. Miss Resch went above and beyond and delivered a card on his birthday - it was his first-time "meeting" his teacher. It is thoughtful gestures like this, especially during these distance learning, that show how HMES teachers like Miss Resch truly care about their students and supporting families during these times."

- a Hollin Meadows ES Parent

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Caleb Lee, Daniels Run ES

"I’d like to nominate Caleb Lee, TSSPEC at Daniels Run ES, for recognition within the FCPS Cares community for his tireless work to keep the Daniels Run community up to date with concern to technology. He is very conscientious about our wants and needs. His responsiveness to RequestIT tickets, parent concerns, and tech innovation is impressive and very much appreciated. Great to have him on board. We hope he stays for a long time."

- Lawrence Veasley, Daniels Run ES

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Terri Smith, South County HS

"Ms. Smith is great at keeping students and families informed about academic progress throughout the year.  We appreciate all that she does to support students!"

- Warren Carrington, South County HS

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Kayle Armendariz, Vienna ES

"Both of my children have had Mrs. Armendariz and have always raved about her, but this year since we are all home, I can really see what's going on in her classroom. Her kindness and patience are nothing less than extraordinary and have been lifesavers for us during virtual learning. She takes time to give extra, individual attention and has had a calming, confidence-boosting effect on my child, who would like for her to be her teacher forever. Thank you Mrs. Armendariz for making 5th-grade virtual learning such a positive experience for us. We are so very grateful."

- a Vienna ES Parent

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Chris Lester Daniels, Lorton Center

"Chris always responds quickly to my request with what I am sure is a smile on his face. When posting FCPS Cares, some parents only know the bus number and not the name of the employee. Because I know Chris from a cohort, he is my go-to person for this information and always responds immediately. I am grateful to be able to collaborate with him at random times. Thank you, Chris, for being so responsive ad helpful!"

- Shelli Wayland, Gatehouse Admin Center

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Tiffany Lee, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Months ago, I attended professional learning led by Ms. Lee regarding emotional intelligence. While the training was fantastic, it is not the focus of this FCPS Cares. A few weeks ago, Ms. Lee proactively reached out to me to schedule a follow-up check-in regarding my progress on what was worked on at our professional learning. To begin with, this was the first time that I have been followed up individually after attending training/learning. That is not a slight to others; it does speak volumes to the commitment that Tiffany has to her work and those she works with. During our check-in, it was clear that Tiffany was truly invested in my growth and how I have been able to apply the concepts we covered to my actions. She highlighted positive outcomes and also promoted an even deeper reflection. All this was done in an inviting and comfortable space. I feel very fortunate to have Tiffany Lee as a resource and FCPS is a stronger division for having her as well." 

- Tony DiBari, Lake Braddock SS

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Stacy Kirkpatrick, Chesterbrook ES

"In a time of uncertainty, Stacy Kirkpatrick is a rock. Having joined her staff in mid-October, it was clear that she is not only an outstanding leader, but she also has an amazingly big heart. She has made the staff feel heard, united, and passionate about being in whatever setting (virtual/concurrent/returning). She has kept the morale high and has not lost sight of keeping equitable good instruction at the forefront. Even though you cannot see people’s smiles under their masks, it is clear that people are smiling ear to ear to work for such an outstanding principal. I feel lucky to get the opportunity to learn from her especially in such a time of unpredictability. One thing that is certain is that Ms. Kirkpatrick’s leadership has thrived even more in a time when we all need it the most. She has risen to the challenge and inspired her staff to work together and continue best practices. She is truly an outstanding leader all around and I am fortunate to get to work by her side."

- Farris Thomas, Chesterbrook ES

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Hannah Roukas, Centre Ridge ES

"Ms. Roukas, who was my son's 4th-grade teacher, serves as his mentor this year. When I enrolled my son in the mentorship program, I was expecting Ms. Roukas to check in with him, as needed, to find out how school was going. She has gone, and continues to go, above and beyond in her role as a mentor. She meets with my son once a week, sometimes for hours at a time after the school day has ended. They talk, they laugh, they work and most importantly, they continue to build a positive relationship. Ms. Roukas guided my son on the completion of some make-up work last night. In what could have been a frustrating situation if left to complete the work on his own, I instead heard my son laugh and remain positive while doing his work. Ms. Roukas gave him the confidence to complete the work on his own after their almost 3-hour session ended. I know that Ms. Roukas is a leader in the Centre Ridge community. She works with many students to help build their confidence and teach them the skills they need to be successful both inside and outside of the classroom. I feel lucky that my son and I are the lucky recipients of her generosity. During this most challenging year, seeing a teacher take so much of her own time to devote time to a student outside of her own class is heartwarming for me to see as a parent. I cannot thank Ms. Roukas enough for all the ways that she has helped my child over the years."

- a Centre Ridge ES Parent

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Jennifer Math, Hunt Valley ES

"Jennifer Math has been doing an incredible job of engaging students during the virtual learning year, which is particularly admirable because she is a kindergarten teacher and these students have had no experience with school. She regularly gives opportunities to socialize and practice fine motor skills with creative projects that relate to the curriculum. There is so much learning going on and working to engage the students. When there was a material pickup I discovered my battery had died and she offered to personally drive it to my house if I needed it. She also made an entire library of books available about topics of interest and lent out her personal books to further engage. I am so proud to say my son is a virtual kindergartner in her class this year."

- a Hunt Valley ES Parent

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Leslie Sides, Hunt Valley ES

"Leslie Sides is a superb second-grade teacher in every way. She has formed a deep relationship with her students and can speak to strengths and areas of need with such specificity. The amount of learning in the class this year has been incredible, and she has formed meaningful relationships where her students feel comfortable to be themselves and ask for help when needed. I hope every child has a year like this where learning is so meaningful and enjoyable."

- a Hunt Valley ES Parent

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Qi Wu and Samarit Michael, Lorton Station ES

"Bus 347 has been extremely reliable during this pandemic for food drop-offs. As a mom, working at home, and managing my child's schedule, being able to rely on the consistent drop off time is very appreciated. I also look forward to seeing the same personnel, who are always warm and friendly."

- a Lorton Station ES Parent

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Barbara Anderson, Lorton Center

"Bus 347 has been extremely reliable during this pandemic for food drop-offs. As a mom, working at home, and managing my child's schedule, being able to rely on the consistent drop off time is very appreciated. I also look forward to seeing the same personnel, who are always warm and friendly."

- a Lorton Station ES Parent

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Brooke Nichols, Daniels Run ES

"Brooke Nichols is a counselor at Daniels Run Elementary and she is a true example of an FCPS Cares employee. We have always known how fortunate we are to have Mrs. Nichols as part of our DRES family and a recent event proved that once again. One of our teachers, Mrs. Denton was faced with a potentially serious and dangerous situation with one of her students. One of the people she reached out to for support was Mrs. Nichols. Mrs. Nichols was able to help support both Mrs. Denton and the student as well as the class as they dealt with this challenging situation. Mrs. Nichols is a constant support in our building and our staff and students always know they can count on her for support, guidance, or just a listening ear. In this case, she provided all three. We are so grateful for her help with this situation and wanted to be sure that she is acknowledged for this and for all she does on a daily basis. We are so honored that she has chosen to be part of the DRES family."

- Michael Parker, Daniels Run ES

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Lauren Piller, Daniels Run ES

" We are planning new recess routines for when students return to school. Lauren is one of our PE teachers and she volunteered her time (along with her teaching partner) to paint a variety of activities on our blacktop. This will help keep students engaged at recess while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Lauren is an excellent teacher and we are fortunate to have her positively impacting students and families in our school community."

- Christopher Smith, Daniels Run ES

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Alex Forbes, Daniels Run ES

"We are planning new recess routines for when students return to school. Alex is one of our PE teachers and she volunteered her time (along with her teaching partner) to paint a variety of activities on our blacktop. This will help keep students engaged at recess while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Alex is an excellent teacher and we are fortunate to have her positively impacting students and families in our school community."

- Christopher Smith, Daniels Run ES

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Wendy Rudolph, Cynthia Kirschenbaum, and Lisa Vanlahr, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Wendy Rudolph and Lisa VanLahr have worked tirelessly to attend LSC meetings, reevals, eligibilities and tested all hours of the day and nights/weekends holidays to support Silverbrook ES in meeting all their COVID timelines, summer clinic timelines, and new eligibilities which were well over 20 cases. Thank you to Cynthia Kirschenbaum for your leadership and your incredible team!"

- Shannon Mueck, Silverbrook ES

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Rosalia Spina, Daniels Run ES

"Ms. Spina is so appreciated by her new 2nd-grade class and their parents. She stepped into a new class, halfway through the year, and immediately went to work on getting to know them and making them all feel adored. These students had already gone through 3 teachers this year when their first teacher was promoted and left to another school, and then the student-teacher and a temporary teacher took over until a permanent replacement started. Ms. Spina put the students at ease right away. The transition went smoothly and my daughter looks forward to school every day with her new teacher."

- a Daniels Run ES Parent

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Virginia Barron, Daniels Run ES

"Ginny is such a wonderful addition to our DRES staff. As a SpEd teacher, she does everything in her power to help her kids. Staff members that work with her sing her praises. She plans extensively for lessons as well as IEP meetings and is always smiling with something positive to say. Ginny is flexible when it comes to helping students and staff members! We are lucky to have her!!"

- Lauren Hein, Daniels Run ES

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Patricia Drummond, Hayfield SS

"Mrs. Drummond has successfully recreated a classroom environment virtually. I happened to be in the next room last week during her math class and heard kids working together, sharing their progress, and LAUGHING - while doing math. It made my day."

- a Hayfield SS Parent

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Maria Hills, Chantilly HS

"My son did poorly on a math test the day before the winter break, and he was upset about it. He emailed his teacher, Ms. Hills, to let her know he did not do well, and to ask her if he would be able to receive help and re-take the test. She emailed him right away and arranged to meet with him online on the first day of winter break. She spent an hour with him on the first morning of her vacation to walk him through the problems and review his errors. She arranged for him to re-take the test during the break, and he passed with flying colors! She is so patient and willing to go the extra mile for her students!"

- a Chantilly HS Parent

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Natasha Conte, Lewis HS

"Natasha Conte teaches Math Readiness and Numeracy Essentials to our English Language Learners at John Lewis High School. She is a phenomenal educator that goes above and beyond to create a welcoming environment where students feel safe, respected, and valued. Many of her students are absent from their other classes but they consistently show up to her class because of the relationships she has built with them and the warm, friendly, atmosphere she has established. She adapts the curriculum to meet her students’ needs and has an adept knowledge of their current skill level. By making these adjustments, she helps her students gain confidence in their math skills. For our newcomer ELL’s it is crucial they have a positive experience when starting school in the United States for the first time. Natasha has created a space where students look forward to going each day and can flourish. We are blessed to have Natasha as part of the John Lewis family and are so appreciative for all she does to forge strong bonds with our students and instill in them a desire to grow as scholars."

- Amy Lee, Lewis HS

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Maria Tedesco, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"I have never met Maria but I have interacted with her via email many times over the years. Every time, I have felt like my requests were probably things I should know or should know how to fix, but I didn't know who to ask or where to look. She has answered every question quickly and kindly, and never once made me feel like I shouldn't be emailing her to ask! I'm sure this is all just part of her regular job, but I think about how many other people are probably doing the same thing I am doing and how many times she must answer these questions and I am so appreciative of the way in which she helps. Her help may be a small part of her day, but so often it makes my day infinitely easier."

 - Meredith Hulley, Columbia ES

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Terry Barry, Justice HS

"Ms. Barry is a wonderful teacher who is thoughtful, professional, and shows great tenacity during this unique time in history. Ms. Barry's professionalism is evident through her interactions with students and her ability to convey English content in a relevant and engaging manner. When students need extra support or further guidance, Ms. Barry always presents herself as available and willing to help. I am grateful to team with her as an IA and highly appreciate her down-to-earth personality."

- Anthony Tran, Justice HS

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Katelyn Strickland, Shrevewood ES

"From day one, Ms. Strickland has been an excellent teacher. Her patience level is beyond measure as she navigates virtual learning with her first-grade class. Recently the class size grew, due to the resignation of another teacher, and she has integrated the new students seamlessly while not neglecting those that were already in her class. She encourages the students to do their best while allowing them to be kids. We are so grateful for her positive attitude, accessibility, and humility!"

- A Shrevewood ES Parent

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Natalie Mabile, Chesterbrook ES

"Ms. Mabile is the best teacher I have ever seen. I have two boys in the FCPS system and every time I interact with Ms. Mabile I’m amazed at the kindness and care this teacher shows. She was my youngest son’s homeroom teacher in his 4th and 6th-grade years at Chesterbrook Elementary. Last school year for 6th graders was not easy, they didn’t get to say proper goodbyes to their elementary teachers and school staff. 7th grade in middle school got even tougher for them. They went from being welcomed and cared for every day to suddenly feeling lonely and struggling in the new virtual environment. Ms. Mabile continued writing to her former students. She sends them cards. She makes sure they feel cared for, loved, and missed. This act of kindness brought tears to my eyes when we received her greeting card."

- a Chesterbrook ES Parent

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Mary Pfiester and Georgina Modad, Rolling Valley ES

"I would like to nominate Ms. Mary Pfiester and her aid Ms. Georgina Modad for the FCPS Cares Award. These teachers go above and beyond for their special needs kids, especially in this virtual atmosphere! From the moment we switched to her class in September my daughter has had so much interaction and receives updated lessons every Monday that are sent to our house! They both have made interactive binders with sensory and texture so that my daughter still receives the stimulation as if she were in the classroom. They ensure tasks are collaborative so that other students take turns doing the counting, showing work, and sharing artwork activities. They have also thought of creative ways for each child to expand and explore their own learning within the home. Because of their caring nature, they are able to reach each child regardless of their varied abilities. We are so grateful that they take the time to create these unique lesson plans, communicate with parents, and ensure everyone has the resources needed to be successful in their learning journey. These teachers have it figured out and their actions should be emulated!"

- a Rolling Valley ES Parent

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Kayne Miller, Longfellow MS

"Amidst dramatic challenges, Ms. Miller has gone over and beyond the call of duty building students interaction, and a discussion group that encourages human interaction, constructive discussion of current challenges in the society in the light of what learned during civics. Her weekly calls are an inspiration."

- a Longfellow MS Parent

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Bryan Shaw, Lane ES

"Mr. Shaw encourages community in his classroom and my student loves to attend the morning meeting, even on Mondays! Mr. Shaw recognized and encouraged a strong set of math skills in our child and went above and beyond (including use of his own time) to create a challenging google classroom so that our child could push the outer limits of his math skills. This attention to each specific need in his classroom makes him a great teacher. We appreciate him so much."

- a Lane ES Parent

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Jennifer Farris and Theresa Vece, Lake Braddock SS

"Jennifer and Theresa are both new to our Pre-Algebra CT and our school. Both ladies have contributed greatly to our CT this year with great ideas, finding resources, making resources, checking answers, and everything in between. Virtual learning has been stressful and challenging for everyone and both Theresa and Jennifer have gone above and beyond to help the other Pre-Algebra teachers as well as the students. Thank you!!"

- Maya Nardone, Lake Braddock SS

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Stacy Gilbert, Hayfield SS

"Stacy is a brilliant, dedicated, and absolute rock-star of a librarian. She has worked very closely with our World History 2 team all of last year and all of this year so far. She has been an incredible resource for our team- continually providing instructional resources, thoughtful commentary and suggestions, and a positive perspective that helps ground us when we start to feel overwhelmed by the super dynamic nature of this year.  Most recently, she went above and beyond and answered our call for help designing an engaging lesson that was fun for students and helped them review critical content. The turnaround was quick, but Stacy was able to put together the most impressive Google Site Breakout Room with a realistic challenge for our students to solve by working through a series of five clues that helped them review the content. Our students were engaged to figure out each clue and to move through the content- on the last day before break! It was such an excellent testament to her dedication to providing fun and engaging instructional resources to teachers and students. We could not appreciate her more! Thanks for your continued hard work!"

- Maggie LeGendre, Hayfield SS

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Michelle Giaccone, Riverside ES

"Michelle is an amazing Kindergarten teacher at our school and has also spent this year tackling tough obstacles as a team lead through the virtual year. She has also taken on an additional role as a mentor for one of our first-year teachers. She has built amazing professional as well as personal relationships with her coworkers schoolwide. She also took the time out of leading her own team's CLT to attend my second-grade team LA CLT to give us a wonderful, helpful, relatable, and actually useful PD for us. She has shown exceptional leadership skills and definitely deserves recognition! Great work Michelle!"

-Kelly Bunting, Riverside ES

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Stephanie Avants, Riverside ES

"At an unprecedented time such as this past year, our children have had to navigate through challenging times in many different aspects that have changed their lives. Ms. Avants has absolutely made a positive difference in my child's mindset, despite never having met her outside a computer screen. My third grader wasn't particularly excited about school, given the circumstances that happened in the Spring of 2020. She is a bit on the shy side when it comes to school, even when she is the opposite at home so it takes some time for her to come out of her shell. Ms. Avants has talked about taking brave risks consistently and has used it in their daily class. I'm able to say my daughter now takes brave risks and has told me at home several times that she is "working on taking more brave risks." A brave risk for her looks like finally turning on her camera in school and sharing - she never used to share even when she would tell me the answers out loud, with her audio muted. Outside of school, a brave risk for her looks like starting a conversation HERSELF and engaging in small talk with others while we're in line at the drive-thru. I work from home a few days a week, and outside the remainder of the week. The times that I am home and I hear Ms. Avants in the background, I find her extremely patient towards all her students and does not lose her cool. I have talked to several of my mom friends who express their concerns with their children's teachers and I just can't help but feel grateful for ours. My child has actually said, "I know it doesn't work that way, but I hope I get her again next year." We wanted to express our sincere appreciation for her & would like to make sure her administration is aware that she is positively changing our children in many ways at this strange, strange time. Thank you for everything you do, Ms. Avants!!"

 - A Riverside ES Parent

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Michaela Kim, Riverside ES

"Michaela Kim is a 3rd-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School currently teaching Advanced Academics (AAP). Although we work on the same team and would plan together in our Collaborative Learning Teams (CLTs), we often did not work very closely together while we were in-person learning because she taught AAP and I am a general education teacher. Once we began virtual learning, Ms. Kim and I have had the pleasure of working more closely together, specifically with science. Ms. Kim creates and shares different resources with her teammates including resources to provide students access to rigor. She collaborates with teammates so that her students are successful with their learning and her teammates are teaching high-quality lessons. Riverside Elementary School is so lucky to have a wonderful AAP teacher. Thank you for all your hard work, Michaela!"

- Stephanie Avants, Riverside ES

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Barbara Rizer, South County HS

"Ms. Rizer consistently communicates with students and parents each week to keep them informed about everything involving her math class. Her on-going communication with families is truly appreciated."

- Warren Carrington, South County HS

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Ione Neves, Mount Eagle ES

"Ms. Ione Neves is a PHA at Eagle View E.S. She has been with EVES for several years, and has provided consistent support to some of our students over the years. As the students progress in grades, she loops with them, continuing to provide the support they require. Ms. Neves has a warm, caring, and supportive demeanor. She is always kind, compassionate, and willing to step in and help whenever and wherever she is needed.  During our virtual instruction, she has worked to support various students and teachers throughout the day. She regularly checks in to see how else she can support students or assist staff, she has been extremely flexible, and very understanding. In such unusual times, some of our most vulnerable students rely on a familiar face or voice and comforting tone, and Ms. Neves has been able to provide that to all of the students she interacts with each day."

- Keieownna Hightower, Eagle View ES

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Linda Post, Mount Eagle ES

"Linda's calm demeanor, flexibility, and willingness to support wherever needed is very much appreciated. This year, Linda has helped to support laptop distribution, our preschool program, and standardized testing, all with a smile and a positive mindset. We are so glad that Linda is part of our Eagle View Staff!"

- Beth Levy, Mount Eagle ES

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Abir Fahel, Mount Eagle ES

"Abir is always willing to take on a task, work with families to problem solve, and ensure that Eagle View is a welcoming environment. This year, Abir has been integral in supporting our laptop distribution and attendance efforts. We are so glad to have Abir as part of our front office team!"

- Beth Levy, Mount Eagle ES

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Tracey Wynne, Gatehouse Admin Center

"Tracey Wynne, a Communication Specialist in OCCR, epitomizes the FCPS Cares initiative. She consistently provides a stellar level of service, collaborative spirit, and a willingness to  "make it happen"! She juggles many requests from employees to get information posted but makes you feel like you are her singular focus. We appreciate her dedication and professionalism. She makes a difference for FCPS, and we are grateful to work with her! Thanks, Tracey!"

- Camille Bartus, Gatehouse Admin Center

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Hala Soliman, Cedar Lane School

"Hala is by far, the best SIA that we have ever had! She learned the system quickly and is very adept. The SIA position requires her to work with teachers, admin, parents, counseling, and the tech office to ensure the smooth running of Cedar Lane. Hala always has a smile and is willing to help. If she does not know the answer to a question, she quickly finds it. We are very pleased to have her as part of our Cedar Team." 

- Nancy Gadd, Cedar Lane School

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Theresa Lieteau, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Theresa Lieteau has gone above and beyond to support Daniels Run in improving our MTSS process. She consistently pushes our practice by ensuring our decisions are rooted in equity for each student. We have relied on her expertise in MTSS and special education over the past few months to problem solve many challenging situations. She has also driven our team to develop stronger protocols and processes that have allowed us to more effectively serve all our Tier 3 students. Theresa, thank you for your dedication to excellence!"

- Fiona Gruver, Daniels Run ES

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Interagency Schools Support Staff, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"It is super impressive how the IAS support staff, counselors, subject coaches, psychologists, social workers, interventionists have adapted to the virtual setting. Among the haystack of links and digital documents, they are able to find the needle of exactly where a student is at their individual site, the time they're there, and the link to pop on to speak with the student. Way to go!"

- Jude Welling Barrows, Transition Support Resource - Alexandria

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Bradley Tarantino, Cedar Lane School

"Mr. Tarantino is our Attendance Clerk at Cedar Lane. This is his first year on the job. He was an IA for several years at Cedar, this only helped him with our students. He knows each and every one of them. He has a great relationship with each of them, due to his calm demeanor and patience. Now, he is buried in spreadsheets and SIS and tracks which students are attending classes and which ones are not. He issues a concise spreadsheet daily and again weekly. He has had to learn Google Forms and Spreadsheets and how to assimilate that data. He is a true asset to our front office!"

- Nancy Gadd, Cedar Lane School

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Susan Smith, Eagle View ES

"Mrs. Susan Smith is the special education administration assistant. She has been very instrumental in supporting our special education department with organizing meetings, communicating with families, and supporting the various processes and procedures necessary to ensure the special education process runs smoothly. She is always thinking several steps ahead to ensure we teachers are kept informed of meetings, deadlines, testing, and scheduling. She is an integral member of our department, but more importantly our school community. She not only supports our special education department but our entire school community. She is always willing to step in and help out in any capacity."

- Keieownna Johnson-Hightower, Eagle View ES

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Viviana Valdez-Tissera, Cedar Lane School

"Viviana is our Parent Liaison and is invaluable to our students and staff. Not only is she sweet, greeting everyone as we enter GLT on Monday mornings at 8 am, but she is such a pleasure to work with. She contributes information about families, and she builds relationships with them which makes all of our jobs just that much easier when working with students. And none can beat her when it comes to being at the IEP meetings. She is professional, understanding, and meticulous. She advocates on behalf of the family and articulates when they don’t understand. A phenomenal woman for sure! From the technology side, we can’t thank you enough for being an interpreter with these kiddos when we need to assign them a laptop and/or MiFi. She knows her technology! She is fantastic to work with!"

- Nancy Gadd, Cedar Lane School

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Tammy Harper, Eagle View ES

"Tammy has been at Eagle View for several years. She is an instructional assistant who has typically worked with our special education population. Over the past few years, I've noted her care and dedication to the students and teachers she works with. Her willingness to dive in and support the school in various ways is truly appreciated. Most recently, with the transition to virtual learning, she has supported laptop distribution, testing, library book distribution. As she expands her knowledge, she has also taken the reins of being the IA Lead and has collaborated with leadership in creating the IA CLT. Through this, she has helped our IAs understanding of instruction, behavior, and technology. She is truly a gem and we are very fortunate to have her here at EV."

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Joyce Baker, Eagle View ES

"Eagle View is so fortunate to have staff members like Joyce Baker. When I first came to EV, Joyce worked in the front office and within the first month, we had an SIA opening. Joyce interviewed and got the position. She has been such a fast learner in this position. Most importantly, she has created a welcoming culture for our new families, and even for our families that return. She has managed the challenges of virtual school and has spent hours reaching out to families, ensuring they have up to date information, sharing forms, and going the extra mile to make sure they feel supported. Staff members depend on her during progress report times and she works collaboratively with our APs regarding student records. She always brings great positive energy and is always willing to dive in and help out. Her dedication and hard work keeps EV moving forward. Thanks for everything Joyce!"

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Kristina Delany, Lorton Center

"Kristina is one of the unsung heroes that goes above and beyond on a daily basis and doesn't get nearly enough credit as she deserves. Kristina consistently works hard to make sure that the West Potomac routes are running efficiently, and that it makes sense.  She listens to my concerns and always has a positive attitude. On Tuesday I wrote a message to Kristina apologizing for the delay in some of my responses, and she was so positive and understanding it made me feel so wonderful. I just wanted to take a minute to recognize how amazing Kristina is."

- Rachelle Wigenton, Lorton Center

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Carrie Bachmann, Lake Braddock SS

"Carrie is a phenomenal math teacher and an integral part of our Pre-Algebra CT. Not only does she teach many of our small group Pre-Algebra classes this year, but she is also always coming up with new ideas and sharing resources and activities to help and benefit all students in Pre-Algebra. She is a team player, a great contributor to our Pre-Algebra CT and our MS Math Department as a whole. Carrie, you are awesome!!"

- Maya Nardone, Lake Braddock SS

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Rahm Bunnag, Woodson Comples

"Where do I begin to fully illustrate the many years Rahm Bunnag has come to the rescue to ensure Timber Lane students and staff were kept safe. Rahm tirelessly found solutions to save FCPS from costly repairs and yet provide a high-quality product. Mr. Bunnag's bright and cheerful can-do attitude is a welcomed treasure to our front office and teaching staff. Rahm's exemplary professionalism brings great credit upon Fairfax County Public Schools."

- Dana Noland, Timberlane ES

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R. L. Mirabel, Lake Braddock SS

"Mr. Mirabal did an excellent job of giving his period 1 (10th grade English) class hope for the future. As a parent, I listened in since my son had trouble sleeping last night worrying about all the craziness in the world. One particular phrase Mr. Mirabal used was the fact that this is “only a small portion of their whole life.” As a parent, it was nice to hear a teacher who cares about the student's feelings and let them know it will be ok. Our kids need to know they are cared about and teachers like Mr. Mirabal make a difference."

- a Lake Braddock SS Parent

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Rob Curran and Thang Ho, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Rob and Thang led a group of school-based administrators through PCM training this week. They were the utmost professionals in ensuring not only that we learned the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to act effectively in crisis situations but they also were exceptional in maintaining COVID-19 safety measures. They were able to quickly create a positive and comfortable learning climate in our training sessions and were deeply knowledgeable of the PCM strategies. Rob and Thang are clearly dedicated ABA professionals and I feel confident in my skills thanks to their impressive instruction. Thank you!"

- Emily Cincinnati, Irving MS

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Tamar McCallum, Hayfield SS

"Mrs. Tamar (Tay) McCallum is our head athletic trainer at Hayfield Secondary School. She has been an integral part of Hayfield Secondary goal of providing a safe and healthy reintegration of athletics during the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. McCallum is a revered part of Hayfield's Athletic Department. She is extremely personable and strives to build and facilitate strong relationships with each coach and each student-athlete here at Hayfield Secondary. The past 11 months for high school athletics has been like no other period time in recent history, and Mrs. McCallum has been involved every step of the way to ensure that when student-athletes and coaches returned to participating in the sports that they love, they were practicing safe and healthy measures. Mrs. McCallum helped present the Return to Play meetings to coaches so that we were all prepared. She was often in the parking lot late in the afternoon, or in the early evenings taking temperatures and helping coaches understand how to administer the process. Thank you Mrs. McCallum for your dedicated effort to support Hayfield Athletics not only during this unprecedented year but for the entire time that you have worked with the student-athletes in the Hayfield Athletic community."

- James Mercer, Hayfield SS

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Anne Scarano, Cooper MS

"Anne is a colleague of mine and an ESOL teacher at our school and during a break out room within our virtual staff meeting, she shared the following story that I feel deserves recognition. On 12/18, during the 8th block, her class was working on an assignment and while most of her class had finished, she had one student who was struggling to complete the task. She encouraged the student to walk away from the task for now and that she would help him finish at the end of the block. At 2:10p (5 minutes before dismissal for Winter Break), the other students told Anne that they wanted to stay to help their classmate finish and the class rallied behind this student and they all stayed connected online until 2:30 while the student worked on completing the assignment. With the support of his teacher AND his classmates, he was encouraged to finish. What a testament to Anne's teaching! Her entire class was willing to stay late on a Friday before the break to encourage their classmate. She has established such a safe & positive environment for her students which have allowed them to thrive. Thank you Anne for all that you do. Your story was truly inspirational."

- Annie Eisman, Cooper MS

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Tay McCallum and Jami Culbertson, Hayfield SS

"Tay and Jami are our school-based ATC (Certified Athletic Trainers). They've been incredibly flexible and accommodating because of COVID this past fall. They both assisted all of our varsity sports programs to develop protocols and procedures that work for coaches and kids alike. Their patience in the face of uncertainty has been extraordinary. They took personal time away from family to work with our athletic programs on weekends and into the evenings during the week. They both are consummate professionals and are incredibly kid-centered. We rely on them and they should be recognized for their commitment to kids and coaches."

- Eric Henderson, Hayfield SS

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Julie Robinson, Woodson HS

"Ms. Robinson truly cares about her students. My 11th-grade son is one of those lucky ones and I am so very grateful for her support and care. She works hard to find ways to engage him, even when he doesn't want to meet with her. She believes in him and knows how much he is capable of. We know she will not ever give up on him, no matter what. Ms. Robinson, thank you. We truly appreciate you."

- a Woodson HS Parent

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Maura Edwards, Woodson HS

"Ms. Edwards is a lifesaver! Time and time again, she has saved my sanity and that of my 11th-grade son. When he is struggling in a class, she logs on as quickly as she can to engage him and offer her support. Even when he is not very responsive, she continues to reach out and doesn't give up. I am so very grateful for her time and care. We couldn't get through these challenging times without her. Thank you, Ms. Edwards."

- a Woodson HS Parent

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Lawrence Cooper, West Potomac HS

"Mr. Cooper is a master pedagogue. He demonstrates consistent professionalism and content competency. Aside from building a creative and welcoming classroom climate which is illustrated by notable positive strides made by his students in the virtual environment, Mr. Cooper also maintains reliable and comprehensive data to support the academic, vocational, and socioemotional needs of each of his students. During his time at West Potomac, Mr. Cooper has become known as an admirable and well-respected role model for all. He is an active advocate for furthering equity in our schools and connecting his students with the community. It is with great confidence that I nominate Lawrence Cooper for the FCPS Cares accolade."

- Camilla Nordh, West Potomac HS

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Anna Colaric, Lake Braddock SS

"When we moved to a virtual learning environment we struggled with how to take notes for math. Anna stepped up in a HUGE way and has been making us a digital interactive notebook (INB) for Pre-Algebra and Algebra all year for us. They are super helpful for teachers and students and have made learning much more successful. Thank you, Anna, for helping us take notes!!"

- Maya Nardone, Lake Braddock SS

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Jenni Matthews, Hayfield SS

"I have been working with Jenni for years in the World Language Dept and she never misses a beat! She carries out her job with excellence and offers the very best of herself when collaborating with her colleagues and serving her students. And I mean it, she is the best of the best. She is the most organized person I know and is always helping other teachers with ideas for how to stay organized and help students do the same. She leads her CT with compassion, shares great ideas for teaching Spanish language concepts, and keeps track of and provides all the administrative information we need to carry out our additional duties. And now, especially during virtual learning, she has created and shared numerous digital materials, that are so engaging and visually appealing, and have made everyone's job infinitely easier! Her students respect and love her, her colleagues do as well, and I absolutely do not know where I would be as a teacher without her!"

- Elizabeth Busch, Hayfield SS

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John Holman, Cooper MS

"Mr. Holman is a consistently positive teacher. Both last year and this year, my daughter reports how much she has enjoyed French class. as a parent and educator myself, it warms my heart to see my child enthusiastic about an academic elective. She is excited to continue learning French in high school and I credit Mr. Holman for that enthusiasm!"

- a Cooper MS Parent

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Shimaliya Aurora, Shrevewood ES 

"We are grateful for this school year for our son’s 4th-grade teacher, Ms. Shimaliya Aurora, for creating a warm, dynamic community in her virtual class during this unusual time. From the beginning of the year, she has fostered such a wonderful environment for the kids to keep them engaged and feeling comfortable. She has been a model teacher this year and we are so grateful for her patience and energy, allowing the kids to share and guiding them in discussions. Her class is always full of energy and enthusiasm as the kids share ideas with her and with each other. They even stay to chat while on break and at the end of the school day. Despite the challenges of 2020, these kids will look back on this year with some fond memories, thanks to her."

- a Shrevewood ES Parent

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Celine Sinclair-Peebles, Transition Support Resource Fairfax

"Mrs. Peebles called NCS CSP to assist one of her students who lost his father during Christmas time. She went above and beyond her role to assist her student. I appreciated Mrs. Peebles for her compassion and support to her student."

- a Fairfax County Government Employee

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Rachelle Wigenton, Lorton Center

"In the midst of the confusion this quarantine has caused all of us, Rachelle was my calm in the storm yesterday. In my efforts to design and manage Monday interventions for our most disconnected students Rachelle instantly assured me that everything was going to be great and she was going to make it happen. Her positivity made me have a much-needed laugh on Monday morning, and her competence and support have given me great confidence that our students will continue to be well served by transportation during these trying times."

- Mike Henrich, West Potomac HS

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Christina Perry, Eagle View ES

"Christina Perry is one of the reasons Eagle View runs so efficiently and why teachers/staff are so supported. Christina has been the AA here through 2 principals. Her commitment to staff and community goes beyond the 8 hour school day. She has worked collaboratively and creatively with her principal to manage a negative balance of funds to bring it forth to the positive. She looks for ways to support staff morale through treats and recognition. As an office manager, she is working to ensure that the team is trained, informed, and efficient. Christina shows patience and empathy with parents and families when they are in crisis or need support. She often mentors students to help set them up for success. Behind every good principal, there is an awesome AA and she is definitely mine!"

- Kanchana Iyer, Eagle View ES

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Emily Tilman, Willow Oaks Admin Center

"Emily is always willing to give a helping hand when requesting where or how to locate a link or a resource when called upon. She is a team player and an amazing social worker."

- Maria Marris, Willow Oaks Admin Center

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Tina McPherson, Bull Run ES

"Celebrating students in the midst of virtual learning comes naturally for Tina McPherson, a 6th grade AAP teacher at Bull Run Elementary. So that our AAP students would know that they are valued and appreciated, Tina organized a Kiss & Ride pick up of holiday goody bags and gifts for our 6th graders in AAP the evening of December 14th. She, in her Santa hat, and me, in reindeer antlers, met our students at Kiss & Ride, donning our masks, setting up a battery-operated pre-lit evergreen, blaring holiday carols from her Bluetooth speaker, and distributed fully stuffed goody bags to our students. Each child was asked to offer canned goods for our local food pantry - which ended up totaling a delivery thereof 305 lbs! The parents & children were so appreciative to enjoy a festive opportunity celebrating the love from their teachers and the joy of the season!"

- Theresa Nolan, Bull Run ES

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Celine Sinclair-Peebles, Transition Support Resource Fairfax

"I donated some winter clothing to Ms. Peebles to allow her to give those clothing items to needy county students. I will be doing it many more times during the year.  She helps them with jobs, resume writing, clothing, food, etc.. What an incredible teacher. I encourage other residents to contact her because she gets the items DIRECTLY to the children and families. Much better than Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Help her help the children."

- a Transition Support Resource Fairfax Parent

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Celine Sinclair-Peebles, Transition Support Resource Fairfax

"Thanks for everything! For helping us out and for everything you did for me. Thanks so much, God bless."

- a Transition Support Resource Fairfax Student

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