FCPS Cares - June 2019

By Department of Human Resources
FCPS Cares
June 05, 2019

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

bull runCentral Office: Katie Tardiff, Preschool Home Teacher, Bull Run Early Childhood Resource Center, Special Services

"Our daughter has some pretty significant speech delays and we have been very pleased with all the speech therapists we have worked with. But there is something special about Katie. Our daughter has made such wonderful progress this year while working with her. She asks every morning if she gets to see Miss Katie today, and often says she misses her on days she doesn't see her. It can sometimes be hard to get our little one to open up but Katie had no problem. And because of her warm personality, our daughter wants to work hard with her. We are so grateful to have Katie working with our daughter and are really hoping we will see her again next year!"

- a Lees Corner ES parent

"Katie Tardiff has been amazing with my son and he grew extremely fond of her over the past school year. She has helped him be more confident with his speech. When she first started working with him he barely spoke and was very shy. Now he tells his own stories and speaks a lot in school and in other settings. I can’t thank her enough!"

- a Bull Run Early Childhood Resource Center parent 

"Katie has made immense progress with my son. My son loves working with her and she has made the visits so fun that he forgets he's learning!"

- a Bull Run Early Childhood Resource Center parent 

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Region 1: Jane Waldrop, Clearview Elementary

"I just came back from the 6th-Grade Summer Camp - The Musical. The kids did a great job! One person who did not get recognition was Mrs. Waldrop. I cannot imagine all the extra hours she has put in to help our kids be successful and experience the joys of music in so many ways. Besides the general music class, my son is involved in choir, the school musical, and the ACC (All-County Choir). These are all opportunities made possible by Mrs. Waldrop. She taught them to play the guitar! Even things outside of school, she always has the kids in mind and connects them to opportunities. I feel lucky my kids go to Clearview and that Mrs. Waldrop is one of many amazing teachers there. I am thrilled at the music education my kids are getting at their school from the very talented and always caring Mrs. Waldrop. Thank you!"

- a Clearview ES parent 

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Kilmer Middle SchoolRegion 2: Ruth Baxley, Kilmer MS

"Just wanted to send a note to make sure I acknowledge what an awesome teacher Ms. Ruth Baxley has been for my eighth-grade daughter this past year. This year, for the first time she continuously talks about how much she enjoys Math and Ms. Baxley’s class! My daughter would say things like “Ms. Baxley makes math easy to understand”, something I’ve never heard her say about math in the past. Ms. Baxley has truly changed my daughter's academic trajectory and has allowed her to succeed in math and find a love for this important subject that without Ms. Baxley, I believe she may have never found. What a gift to have Ms. Baxley at Kilmer MS, and how fortunate we are to have her as my daughter's Math teacher. If there’s any way to recognize this amazing teacher, please let me know as she deserves some extra appreciation. Thank you for the opportunity for my daughter to be instructed by the wonderful Ms. Baxley. From our family, we thank you for all you’ve done, Ms. Baxley (as well as the Kilmer MS administration in supporting great teachers), to help develop our daughter’s love of math."

- a Kilmer MS parent 

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fcps cares from bush hill elementaryRegion 3: Mackenzie Bergh and Sadaf Tariq, Bush Hill Elementary 

"Ms. Bergh is an outstanding teacher! She has diligently persevered to determine the best manner for my daughter to access her curriculum, which can change frequently. My daughter has significant special needs so this is very challenging for any educator. She showed sensitivity and persistence above and beyond while coordinating the various specials and therapies so that all would be kept informed. She communicated with me daily regarding my daughter's experiences and progress."

"Ms. T is an outstanding attendant. Her constant care and attention for my daughter who has significant special needs were key in her doing so well this year! Her kindness, persistence, and sensitivity shown to my daughter enabled her to progress farther than she ever has toward more independent eating."

-a Bush Hill Es parent

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south county 2Region 4: Molly Rumberger, South County High 

"Molly Rumberger is an absolute gift to South County High School. She heads the theatre department and has given many students like my daughter a safe place to call home. Molly is full of joy and models dedication, compassion, inclusivity, and kindness always. She truly cares about her students, offers much encouragement and positivity, and fosters a nurturing learning environment where they can thrive and shine.  Everyone loves Mrs. Rumberger and are extremely grateful for her!"

- a South County HS parent

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fcps cares greenbriar east elementary schoolRegion 5: Latrena Warthen, Greenbriar East ES

"Not only do you lead our custodial staff in keeping our building and grounds in top condition, but you also find time to help students who are having discipline issues or who are just struggling. You melted my heart today when I saw you sitting in a classroom working with a student who was having a meltdown and having a hard time getting it together. You are a wonderful role model for our students. We are lucky to have you."

- Stacy LaPlaca, Greenbriar East ES

Other FCPS Cares of the Month Recipients

Johanna Meadows, Gatehouse Administration Center

"Johanna Meadows saved the day!  She really went above and beyond. We are so thankful for her help!"

- Danielle Hornbecker, Frost MS

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Alicia Fyfe, Armstrong ES

"Alicia has been incredibly helpful with getting things in order for ESY. She has been quick to respond to any questions or concerns that we have and has made it so easy for the ESY team to access the school-based technology at Armstrong. Thank you, Alicia!"

- Caitlin Radek, Armstrong ES ESY

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Nancy Ayoub, Langley HS

"Nancy is the talented administrative assistant at Langley High School. Though she has been a Saxon for a number of years, she has been in her current role for less than a year. In addition to adjusting to her new role, she took on the role of web curator of the school website for the 18-19 school year. In that time, Nancy has completely transformed the culture of the school in terms of how information is communicated on the school website. The website has a look and feel that, in many ways, is different from the other schools. Langley’s site is full with announcements, events, and features that are put on the site entirely by her. Because of her commitment to making the website unique and complete in such a robust way, Langley’s site has its own identity as an extension of the happenings of the school. The website has each school play, orchestra concert, art exhibition, Student Services presentation, recognition ceremony, etc. in its events section. The announcements section has such things as PTA Reflections Contest, Summer Reading, FCPSOn, summer camps, and more. In the last month of the school year, Nancy created features about a chorus presentation, softball and girls lacrosse playing in the State Finals, graduation, and Virginia Girls State. These features tell stories that the community wouldn’t be able to receive in the viewable and visual format that Nancy provides. The Langley High School website is the face of the school to those who do not attend the school as students or work there as a staff member. It is an ideal snapshot of what happens each day in the school. Because of Nancy’s dedication, not just to the homepage, but to all of the subpages throughout the site, students, parents, staff, community members, and other stakeholders are 100% in tune with the daily happenings of the school. Her enthusiasm and dedication for the website are contagious. Often, we are using the Langley High School site as the model that we hope many of the other schools in the system try to emulate. Thank you, Nancy!"

- Bryan Buser, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Donnie Biggs, Gatehouse Administration Center

"The second annual Languages Services Interpreters Meet & Greet was held at Gatehouse on June 21st. We were lucky to have the FCPS photographer, Donnie Biggs, take pictures of this special event. Donnie did a phenomenal job, capturing the joy and excitement of the occasion with his artistic eye. Within just a few hours after the event, he sent me a link to where the pictures were posted! Thank you, Donnie, for your time, professionalism and sharing your talent with us!"

- Katie Han, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Lauren Jones and Oscar Melendez, Sprague Technology Center

"The second annual Languages Services Interpreters Meet & Greet was held at Gatehouse on June 21st. Lauren and Oscar from the IT Department came to the event to provide face to face assistance for the interpreters by helping them install VPN connections on their personal laptops and FCPS Outlook on their personal cell phones. These two applications are essential for our hourly, at-will interpreters to stay connected and efficiently do their jobs. Thank you, Lauren and Oscar, for your time and excellent technical support!"

- Katie Han, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Suzanne Federico, SooJung Kim, and Connie Thibeault, Leis Center

"The second annual Languages Services Interpreters Meet & Greet was held at Gatehouse on June 21st. Suzanne, SooJung, and Connie took their personal time at the start of their summer vacation to come and help celebrate the valuable work of the 250 FCPS+ interpreters who work to connect our families and students with teachers and schools. Special acknowledgment goes to Connie Thibeault who addressed the audience passionately in a speech emphasizing that the work of the interpreters truly helps to make the DLA team’s work possible."

- Katie Han, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Dianna DiPasquale, Gatehouse Administration Center

"The second annual Languages Services Interpreters Meet & Greet was held at Gatehouse on June 21st. A week before the event, Dianna provided the initial layout and set up of the venue (Gatehouse Café). On the day of the event, she came by early to make sure all was set up correctly and asked what else needed to be done. She had even created signage to welcome the attendees. Dianna went above and beyond her job description to ensure a successful event. Thank you, Dianna!"

- Katie Han, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Julie Damon, Terraset ES 

"Our family was having a crisis at home so I brought my daughter to school early. My daughter was visibly shaken and crying. Mrs. Damon reassured me she would keep an eye on my daughter and treat her like she was one of her own children. She then provided me updates throughout the day. While it was a very stressful time for us, Mrs. Damon made my daughter feel like she was in a safe, loving place."

- a Terraset ES parent 

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Christine Ojeda, Churchill Road ES

"I would like everyone to know that Mrs. Ojeda is a fantastic Kindergarten teacher. I am so thankful that my child was assigned to her classroom. Mrs. Ojeda is a rarity in public school education and she should be applauded, commended and recognized for her outstanding teaching methods and the kindness she extends to her students. Her classroom is calm, relaxing, neat, organized, clean and peaceful yet she is firm and commanding in the class. Mrs. Ojeda demands respect and good behavior but she is not a drill sergeant. She extends genuine kindness to her students and works hard to help them find their own success. Mrs. Ojeda is patient but expects her students to try and work hard and she constantly helps them to move forward and be better and better. She celebrates the success of her students and makes sure that milestones are marked with joy and commendation. I am so thankful for Mrs. Ojeda and to Mrs. Ojeda. I wish there was a Mrs. Ojeda waiting for my child in every grade at Churchill. Thank you for a wonderful year of kindergarten, Mrs. Ojeda."

- a Churchill Road ES parent

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Ann Hahm, Churchill Road ES

"Mrs. Hahm is so much more than an assistant in a kindergarten classroom. She is a beautiful example of someone who genuinely enjoys and appreciates her job. She is a credit to Fairfax County. Her kindness and care with the students go above and beyond any minimums or standards. Every day, Mrs. Hahm strives to offer the best of herself and makes sure her students are safe, happy, being kind to each other, paying attention and behaving appropriately. She is precisely what every classroom in America needs, at any age, in any grade. Mrs. Hahm is always smiling, positive and present. If every classroom could have a Mrs. Hahm, there is no doubt the state of education would be better in Fairfax County; in America. Thank you, Mrs. Hahm, for everything you do for Churchill Road ES, every day you are there."

- a Churchill Road ES parent

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Shannon Laws, Gatehouse Administration Center

"Shannon Laws is working to monitor, fulfill, and secure ESY staffing requests as well as many other ESY HR questions.  Shannon is positive, professional, courteous, thorough and quick to respond to emails and phone calls. Shannon has helped me through the processes involved with staffing and made it an overall positive experience.  Thank you, Shannon, for your work and dedication!"

- Emily Kaltenmark, Key Center

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Tynan Rolander and Nina Pannoni, South Couty HS

"There are not enough words that I could say to commend both my Assistant Directors of Student Activities (ADSA), Tynan and Nina for the work they did this year at South County HS. Both were brave enough to jump into the activities world with me and they did an absolutely unbelievable job. They both posses so many desirable leadership characteristics and truly steward the mission of what FCPS expects of their employees. I feel truly grateful to work alongside them and I cannot wait to continue our work next year. Thank you for all that you have done and will do! Have a great summer!"

- Brett Garner, South Couty HS

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William Brice Boyd, Andrew Reinoso, Kyle Burney, and Chris Hutchison, Woodson Complex and Sideburn Support Center

"Brice, Andrew, Kyle, and Chris demonstrated the 'Can Do' spirit that everyone in customer service should have. Together they were instrumental in the quick installation of the post that would hold the Little Lending Library that was donated by the PTA in honor of Principal Kenna's retirement. Andrew was the first to respond to the call for a quick installation from the PTA. Andrew was Mrs. Kenna's student in her 7th-grade Life Science class at Key Middle school in 1991. He says that he was turned onto ecosystems and desire to take care of the earth through what he learned in 7th-grade. Due to the impending retirement of Mrs. Kenna, Brice, Kyle, and Chris wanted to be sure that the project to introduce the Little Lending Library to the children could happen before the end of the school year. On Friday morning, June 7th, the four men came together prior to school starting to install the post to hold the library. This made it possible for the Library to be affixed to the post the next day. The Little Library was introduced to the children during the final week of school. It is with great appreciation to these four men for their quick action which will allow the children of Cardinal Forest ES to share or borrow books throughout the summer. The students love the Little Library and teachers love sharing the books they are willing to provide to keep the library full. Thank you, Brice, Andrew, Kyle, and Chris, for making this possible so quickly!"

- Karen H. Kenna, Cardinal Forest ES

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Matt Watson, Sprague Technology Center

"Over the last few weeks, I have needed Help Desk support for multiple items that were ranging from small to HUGE in nature. Each time I have reached out to Matt Watson, especially today, he immediately stopped what he was doing to step in and help. It is obvious that Matt has a heart for helping others and he will do whatever he can to support the employees of FCPS and the mission. Thank you, Matt, for always being there."

- Tracy Soular, Sprague Technology Center

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Denise Forrest and Kellie Cochran, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

"Ms. Forrest and Ms. Cochran are both coordinators with the Office of Special Ed. Instruction.  At the end of the year, when each team is busy supporting schools and closing down the current school year, they both spared time to answer the end of the year call for help to assist the adapted curriculum team at the warehouse. They both helped check materials into the library system and gather materials for different ESY sites. With their help, we will be able to meet the needs of students on the first day of ESY. We could not have done it without you! Thank you, Denise and Kellie!"

- Ellie Stack, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

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Kathy McQuillan, Ivette Robles, Erin Woodward, Vicki Novak, and Dottie Skrincosky, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

"Ms. McQuillan, Ms. Robles, Ms. Woodward, Ms. Novak, and Ms. Skrincosky answered the end of the year call for help to assist the adapted curriculum team at the warehouse. They each helped check in the materials that were used during the school year and helped to turn them around for use at ESY. With their help, we will be able to meet the needs of students on the first day of ESY. We could not have done it without you! Thank you, Kathy, Ivette, Erin, Vicki, and Dottie!"

- Ellie Stack, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

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Kelley Raich, Shauna Gardziel, Kelly Galbraith, Carrie Porter, Jennifer Fasching, Devin Coleman-Houff, and Thang Ho, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

"Ms. Raich, Ms. Gardziel, Ms. Galbraith, Ms. Porter, Ms. Fasching, Ms. Coleman-Houff, and Mr. Ho answered the end of the year call for help to assist the adapted curriculum team at the warehouse. They each helped check in the materials that were used during the school year and helped to turn them around for use at ESY.  With their help, we will be able to meet the needs of students on the first day of ESY.  We could not have done it without you! Thank you, Kelley, Shauna, Kelly, Carrie, Jennifer, Devin, and Thang!"

- Ellie Stack, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

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Susy McConnell, Genie Yurgaites, Jen Fier, Mollie Kropp, Colleen Kalamajka, and Sarah Pavitt, Willow Oaks Administrative Center and the Instructional Programs Support Center

"Ms. McConnell, Ms. Yurgaites, Ms. Fier, Ms. Kropp, Ms. Kalamajka, and Ms. Pavitt answered the last minute call for help to assist the adapted curriculum team. They each helped check in the materials that were used during the school year and helped to turn them around for use at ESY. With their help, we will be able to meet the needs of students on the first day of ESY  We could not have done it without you!  Thank you, Susy, Genie, Jen, Mollie, Colleen, and Sarah!"

- Ellie Stack, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

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Susan Criste, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

"Ms. Criste answered the last minute call for help to assist the adapted curriculum team. Ms. Criste helped check in the materials that were used during the school year and helped to turn them around for use at ESY.  With Ms. Criste’s help, we will be able to meet the needs of students on the first day of ESY.  Ms. Criste also helped to organize the support from ATS.
We could not have done it without you!  Thank you, Ms. Criste!"

- Ellie Stack, Willow Oaks Administrative Center

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Rory Duffield, Woodson HS

"Mr. Rory Duffield is an exemplary instructor. He genuinely cares about our son and his education. He reaches out to us to keep us informed when he has a concern or just to give us good news about a grade. Our son enjoys his class even though he struggles with the content. We truly appreciate everything he has done for our son. He deserves a huge Kudos."

- a Woodson HS parent 

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Lauren Soljanyk, Chantilly HS

"Ms. Soljanyk is a professional STEP teacher and coach for Track. We went over sample questions for my job interview after I returned to STEP following completion of my computer support class at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center in late February 2018. She even requested my assistance for her track meets in April 2018 and April 2019. When I alerted Ms. Soljanyk that the 1,600 m boys' run papers blew away, she reacted in a professional manner when I alerted her. She was very caring. I also helped check in track meet members of various schools and was a cashier for the food sales. I even aided Ms. Soljanyk with track meet papers the day before the track meet with my other peers. She deserves a raise."

- a Chantilly HS student 

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Suzanne Van der Eijk, Madison HS

"FCPS is very fortunate to have Suzanne van der Eijk as their SBTS at Madison High School! She is an amazing resource to staff and students alike! As we get ready to roll out over 2,200 computers in the fall to our entire student body, Suzanne has worked tirelessly to support our teachers to help prepare them for this huge endeavor - FCPSOn. She has provided numerous resources in a variety of formats to meet a wide array of learning styles. Suzanne is pleasant, very approachable, and will drop what she’s doing to assist a teacher or student! I am very lucky to have Suzanne as my colleague, and FCPS is blessed to have her in their ranks for years to come!"

- Kurt Kohls, Madison HS

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Tara Lodwig, McLean HS

"McLean is a big school, but Tara Lodwig doesn’t let the size of the school’s population diminish the size of her commitment to her students. As a result of her familiarity with our student’s records and college intentions, she was in a position to make a recommendation for an action we would not have thought possible. Thank you, Tara, for being such an attentive and thoughtful counselor to our students!"

- a McLean HS parent 

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Tesfaye Debalke, Longfellow MS

"Being a middle school bus driver must certainly have its challenges, but not a day has gone by this school year that my son’s morning driver hasn’t had a smile on his face and a friendly wave to welcome students and greet parents. Our bus is exactly on time every single morning - very important during those dark, early morning winter pick-ups! Knowing our driver cares about our children’s safety is reassuring when sending them to school each day. The driver for Longfellow bus #2 deserves to be recognized for his dedication to our students and for the extra time he takes to start each of their days with a smile."

- a Longfellow MS parent

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Sadaf Tariq, Bush Hill ES

"Ms. T is an outstanding attendant. Her constant care and attention for my daughter who has significant special needs were key in her doing so well this year! Her kindness, persistence, and sensitivity shown to my daughter enabled her to progress farther than she ever has toward more independent eating."

- a Bush Hill ES parent

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Tamara Smith  and Carolyn Richards, Lorton Transportation Center

"Our bus driver, Tamra, and bus attendant, Carolyn, have been outstanding this year. They both showed a great sensitivity in dealing with our daughter who has significant special needs. Their kindness to our daughter is so appreciated. Their concern for her safety was very helpful (i.e. would tell me if a brake was loose, strap damaged, etc.) so I could work to fix it right away. They understood the importance of our family routine to include our dog!"

- a Bush Hill ES parent

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Diane Spirer, Fairhill ES

"Dear Ms. Spirer, Your wisdom and support have been awesome. We appreciate all you have done for both of our kids. Congratulations on your retirement and you will be missed sincerely. 'D' & Family."

- a Fairhill ES parent

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Desirae Griffin, Fairhill ES

"Dear Ms. Griffin, It has been a long time coming, however, you have stayed close to my boy and made sure he was okay at all times. I appreciate your support through the years from Pre K-6th grade. Without you support many things would not have worked for him. We appreciate all you have done. D' and family."

- a Fairhill ES parent

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Andy Mitchell, Fairhill ES 

"Dear Mr. Mitchell, There are not enough words to say how over the years you have looked after my boy to ensure everything was right for him. We greatly appreciate your nurturing of him and wanting the best for him. You have done a fine job taking care of both my kids during their early years at Fairhill. We will miss you and hope to keep in touch. Sincerely, the Family of 'D'."

- a Fairhill ES parent 

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Jeanne Kelly, Falls Church HS

"Jeanne Kelly showed that there is always time to do the kind and compassionate thing. One of her bus drivers passed away a few days before his retirement. His family had planned a surprise for him on his last bus run. Jeanne agreed to let the surprise happen and arranged for his bus to be parked on the school grounds. She allowed the family to decorate the bus and spend time in it remembering and honoring their dad. Jeanne is a selfless worker for FCPS. She makes a difference in not only the routine of her job but also in the hearts of people. Thank you, Jeanne, for your kindness."

- an FCPS colleague

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Nicci Newman, Lorton Center Transportation

"Nicci Newman, Bus Driver Supervisor, went out of her way to honor an employee who passed away a few days before his retirement. She helped the family honor him by parking the bus at his school and allowing them to decorate the bus as they would have if he was there. What a kind and compassionate thing to do for a grieving family. I appreciate the care she showed this employee and his family. Thank you!"

- an FCPS colleague 

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Jennifer Sponheimer, Sprague Technology Center

"Jenn Sponheimer helped create and continues to develop the FCPSON laptop collection asset management tool. Her collaboration with our site was amazing in making sure the tool had all of the form and functionality that we needed to make laptop collection go smoothly. She was flexible with making changes on the fly and took extensive notes for future improvement. She even took time out of her work day to visit our site on the day of laptop collection to see if there is any way to make the process more effective and efficient in the future. The fact that students also now get an automatic receipt for turning in their devices helps alleviate confusion and ensure that all of our equipment is accounted for. We appreciate so much the time and attention and care she showed our site it has contributed greatly to our success in this endeavor."

- Jason Franks, Chantilly HS

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Karen Branch-Brioso, Gatehouse Administration Center

"Karen was scheduled to interpret a meeting at SLHS, which unfortunately escalated into a sticky situation. She handled the situation calmly with professionalism. Her poise was much appreciated."

- an FCPS colleague

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John Belyea, Sprague Technology Center

"Great job setting up my phone; made it simple and seamless. John is always helpful, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to interact with."

- Jean Welsh, Sprague Technology Center

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Mackenzie Bergh, Bush Hill ES

"Ms. Bergh is an outstanding teacher! She has diligently persevered to determine the best manner for my daughter to access her curriculum, which can change frequently. My daughter has significant special needs so this is very challenging for any educator. She showed a sensitivity and persistence above and beyond while coordinating the various specials and therapies so that all would be kept informed. She communicated with me daily regarding my daughter's experiences and progress."

- a Bush Hill ES parent

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Amy Soos, Lake Braddock SS

"Amy Soos took on the role of Systems of Support Administrator this year at Lake Braddock High School and she has worked tirelessly to support students. She has created a study hall for struggling students during our Bruin Block period. She has personally escorted students to class to understand why they were often tardy to class. She has worked individually to help a student pass their SOLs in order to graduate. Amy has also worked with students struggling with attendance issues. She reaches out and includes all the necessary professionals in working with our students. She is professional, caring and inclusive. Amy knows how to communicate with other staff and always works in the best interests of the students. She understands the different styles and strengths of students and staff alike and works within those parameters. Amy knows that results matter and works very hard to get results from staff and students but she is thoughtful in her approach and this allows her to bring out the best in staff and students. She is a huge asset to Lake Braddock High School and is invested in student success as well as what is best for the school as a whole. We are fortunate to have her at Lake Braddock High School."

- Dianne Stansbery, Lake Braddock SS

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Michelle Campbell, Lorton Transportation Center

"I want to take a moment to recognize Mrs. Campbell. She is a wonderful bus driver. I am so comfortable each day sending my Kindergartner on the bus knowing that someone is watching over her. I love that she does a word of the week to foster learning on the bus too! She has a smile each day! I really hope we have her again next year! She is the best!"

- a Kings Park ES parent 

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Valerie Michaud, Newington Forest ES

"Ms. Michaud has been an amazing teacher for our son. We have watched him have so much success and growth this year. She has found strategies for success for him as well as understood his personality and how to help him harness it in his classwork.  Ms. Michaud has this tremendous relationship with every student. I have had the opportunity to come into several events this year with Ms. Michaud and the first grade. Each time, it is very telling what a great teacher she is from all the interactions she has with her students. During the 1st and 2nd-grade musical production, Field Day, and the End of Year Celebration, I observed her playing with the students during the games and how they enjoy being with her so much too! It was so great to see how engaged and connected she was with our son and all the students in her class. We will miss her next year!"

- a Newington Forest ES parent

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Blanca Guardado, Plum Center for Lifelong Learning

"Blanca is hardworking; she takes an interest in the students. She motivates them to continue trying hard to finish their studies. On top of doing her work, she is available to help others when needed."

- an Adult HS student 

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Connie Falco, Colvin Run ES

"Ms. Falco has been really helpful this year. She was very caring and always very responsive to my questions and concerns. She is willing to listen and always go out of the way to help my son.  I felt that it has been a blessing to have her as our resource teacher this year. Thank you for all your hard work. My son had made good progress throughout the year and we will miss you."

- a Colvin Run ES parent 

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Marie Barnett, Fairhill ES

"Dear Ms. Barnett, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for all of your smooth times and rough times that you have provided unconditional support for a student who has experienced some tough times over the past year while being displaced. It is with heartfelt gratitude that we want you to know that your support has not gone unnoticed. We appreciate you."

- Diana Smith-Jackson, Fairfax HS

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Amy Spector, Fairhill ES

"Dear Ms. Spector, thank you for the support you have shown us and the student over the years. We have asked for your help on many things and you never hesitate to ensure that our needs have been met. This has been a tough year for the students. Your assistance is always done with a kind word and a smile."

- Diana Smith-Jackson, Fairfax HS

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Margarita Rubio and Byung Jang, Lorton Transportation Center

"The driver and assistants on bus 1145 were our heroes on Wednesday evening after graduation. For some reason, our lift bus left before we were finished with graduation duties at Eagle Bank Arena, and we were left waiting on a bus to take our student who uses a wheelchair back to Falls Church HS. Transportation worked quickly and put out an All-Call to drivers in the area to come and get us, and bus 1145 jumped into action to rescue us from the Mason Campus! They not only went out of their way, extended their day, and helped us out, but did it with kindness, energy, and great attitudes. Thanks, crew of Bus 1145, for helping us out when we needed you!"

- CJ Redden-Liotta, Falls Church HS

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Mitchell Holloway and Ahmed Hillman, Stonecroft Transportation Center

"The Preschool and PAC team at Aldrin Elementary School was thoroughly impressed with Mitchell Holloway and Ahmed Hillman on Aldrin’s bus route 97 this year. They took the time to consider the needs of our students, ask us questions on how to best support them, and went the extra mile to ensure that some of the youngest students in FCPS were successful with their transition from home/daycare/etc, to school. Our students may be non-vocal/verbal, have physical disabilities, attempt to get out of their seats, among other needs, yet Mr. Holloway and Mr. Hillman ensured equity for them by providing extra time and support to walk up and down bus steps, engage with their families, and ask their teacher's questions on how to best support these kiddos. We could not thank them enough for their positive attitude, welcoming demeanor, and a huge smile on their faces every morning as we greeted our students arriving to school. Thank you!"

Megan Walters, Aldrin ES

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Aimee Rand, West Potomac HS

"This was my first year teaching an IDS Class. I felt very fortunate for having Aimee Rand as part of the team. She provided such great support to all in my department. Aimee was always sharing  knowledge of her specialty and always made the time to answer any questions. The time I spent watching her work with my students was invaluable. Aimee Rand is a very dedicated person to this profession and should be recognized as such by FCPS."

- Emilie Breder-Greve, West Potomac HS

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Felicia Allen, Colvin Run ES

"Ms. Allen took time out of her busy schedule to come to my daughter's basketball game after school. She has given her lots of encouragement and support throughout her time at Colvin Run. Ms.Allen is a very caring person and has a big heart."

- a Colvin Run ES parent 

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Donna Tilman, Glen Forest ES

"I'd like to nominate my mom, Donna Tilman, for FCPS Cares. I am truly in awe of her work ethic, compassion, and resiliency this past year. She has been a Head Start teacher at Glen Forest for approximately 17 years and prior to that, she worked at a private school for many years as a preschool and Kindergarten teacher. My mom has faced tremendous adversity recently, with losing her mother in March and losing her father in May. Even with these significant losses, she continues to be a caring and encouraging Head Start teacher to all of her students. My mom is a devoted teacher- it's what she has always loved to do. I highly doubt she will ever retire because it gives her so much joy and purpose. She goes above and beyond what is expected of her as a teacher. I have personally seen her build wonderful connections with students and families over the years. One student even emailed her 13 years later as a senior in high school telling her what an impact she had on his life! My mom shared her love of teaching with my brothers and I and now the three of us work in schools as well. She spends her evenings and weekends on school work that focuses on building the strengths and needs of each individual student. My mom is more than deserving of this award for all of the time, energy, and passion she puts into her job every day. She is an incredible teacher, co-worker, mother, and grandmother and I am lucky to be able to call her my mom!"

- Emily Tilman, Mantua ES 

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Michelle Selecman, White Oaks ES

"We have been so lucky to have such an amazing teacher this year! She has really gone above and beyond to help my child really love learning. Whenever I volunteer for Friday folders, I am shocked at the level of patience and kindness she has for her students. My son has told me on numerous occasions that he is so lucky to have her as a teacher this year because she is the nicest teacher he has ever had and she makes learning fun! It's so vital to have teachers who engage the students and help foster their love of learning at such a young age. Thank you for all you do!"

- a White Oaks ES parent  

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Amanda Cadolino, Jacki Wilson, Leslie Myers, Kristin Kornher, Vanessa Lee, Caitlin Colangelo, and Dana Witsman, Gatehouse Administration Center

"I am nominating the SeaStars support team for their extraordinary patience, ability to help, and continuously friendly manner in which they solve so many challenges related to IEP's and special education. The SeaStars support team is always calm, especially when we, the users, are not. Even when inundated with phone calls, the SeaStars team always makes me feel that I am the only one with the problem and they have all the time in the world to fix it. On the date in question, the SeaStars team was able to fix an error immediately before an impending IEP meeting and the meeting was successfully completed. This nomination is for all the times that I have called and requested assistance. They truly are life savers!"

- Philippa van Gelder-Hindman, Stratford Landing ES

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Desirae Griffin, Fairhill ES

"My son is now graduating 6th-grade, but when he started Kindergarten, he had tremendous anxiety that made it very difficult for him to go to school. Mrs. Griffin took it upon herself to help him get used to school, which took a whole year of daily effort. He has adjusted very well since that difficult time and she has been there to support him every year. Without her and the other supportive staff at Fairhill, I do not think he would have been able to stay in Kindergarten all those years ago. I feel so much gratitude as I see him graduate now."

- a Fairhill ES parent 

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Susan Pham, Lorton Transportation Center

"Susan has been my daughter's bus driver for 3 years and was my son's driver for over a year before he transferred to a different school. She has been driving this route for many years and has gotten to know the students and parents. In my 13 years of public school, I only had one bus driver that I felt like I got to know. It's been great for the kids to have a relationship with Susan. She has made the beginning of each day be a chance for positive human interaction. She is a reminder that every interaction is a chance to spread joy. She will be missed when she retires."

- a Camelot ES parent 

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Shannon Hardtke, Fox Mill ES

"Ms. Hardtke has been such a supporter of our son all year. She inspires him to try his best and highlights his areas of strength while still maintaining high expectations. She fosters a community of caring and applies best practices in her daily instruction to ensure success. Our son has been happy and excited about school this year and he loves to share his new ideas and understandings with us.  Although he struggles with focus, Ms. Hardtke has developed strategies to keep him engaged and productive.  We feel so fortunate that our son had her for a teacher this year!"

- Fox Mill ES parents 

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Jeremiah Caven, South County HS

"Jeremiah is the subschool principal of my grandson. Jeremiah has made an extra effort to accommodate and facilitate my grandson who is dual enrolled at South County and NOVA. He has made himself available for my grandson to reach out whenever he had a question or concern. He has helped guide my grandson and been very responsive in a balanced manner. Thank you for all that you do for South County students."

- a South County HS grandparent 

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Kristie Erickson, Woodson HS

"Ms. Erickson has been my daughter's case manager for the past 2 years. My daughter has had an illness that required her to miss school and ultimately complete both years with the homebound program. Both years, Ms. Erickson worked tirelessly to advocate for my daughter always keeping in contact with her teachers and letting us know what was going on with each class.  While on homebound, she agreed to be my daughter's homebound teacher both years for English and History. Thanks to her diligence, we did not have to pay for any English or History tutors. While always professional, she demonstrated compassion and empathy for our situation and became an honorary member of our family. I truly believe that without her my daughter would not have graduated this year. Having dealt with eight different schools, she is truly the most dedicated and proficient teacher/case manager we have ever worked with. We will never forget her."

- a Woodson HS parent 

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Jennie Smith, Bull Run Early Childhood Resource Center

"Jennie is a valuable member of our amazing team at Bull Run ECID&S! She is always willing to help teachers and staff with paperwork, phone calls, questions, and IEP meetings. Her calm demeanor and ability to listen can diffuse even the most stressful situations and I am a better teacher because of her. She deserves all the praise for being a great person to talk to about our own children's' special needs at home, as well as being able to depend on her in any situation. Thanks, Jennie!"

- Katie Tardiff, Bull Run Early Childhood Resource Center

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Brie Matthews, Colvin Run ES

"Brie Matthews is a wonderful resource teacher. She is well adept at IEP's and is able to look at the child as an individual and recommend goals and assistance based on that child's needs. Having three children with IEP's, I have had the pleasure to work with Ms. Matthews with two of my children. She has contacted me several times to discuss additional support on my child's IEP, which had not been picked up before. She noticed my child would benefit from a calculator to check her math and asked my permission to add this to her IEP. She then ensured that my child did not feel awkward in the classroom with her peers when using the calculator. She gave concrete examples to the students about why my daughter needed the calculator. Both my children passed their Reading SOL when Ms. Matthews was their resource teacher, which they had been unable to pass before. My son has dyslexia, so the Reading SOL was always difficult; however, Ms. Matthews used great tools to teach him how to pull out detail from passages. I am impressed by her attention to detail to each individual child and her mastery of teaching skills to these kids. FCPS Special Education needs more resource teachers like Ms. Matthews."

- a Colvin Run ES parent 

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Margaret Barnes, Holmes MS

"Today we brought our Capital One lead out to Holmes MS for an Ignite Partnership meeting. Principal Margaret Barnes was our host and she is someone I feel deserves an FCPS Cares award. It is deserving because it was immediately obvious to me that Margaret is a leader. She had the right people at the table, yes - but more importantly, her team was empowered. They are empowered to speak up to offer support, challenge conventions, and joke and laugh. My Capital One contact said as we left, "That was excellent. I already feel like I know those folks." Kudos to Margaret Barnes and her team."

- Jay Garant, Gatehouse Administration Center

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Barbara Romyn, Lorton Transportation Center

"Our beloved HM 3 bus driver Barbara Romyn is retiring! For the last three years, she greets us with a smile every morning and since we are the first stop she is there waiting each morning until the route time starts. She knows our kids, our families, and our school community. Our school bus drivers have very important jobs and we appreciate all the ways Barbara has shown why FCPS Cares. We will miss her at Hollin Meadows ES! Best wishes, Barbara!"

- Hollin Meadows ES parents

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Caroline Zvijac, Colvin Run ES

"I wanted to write to you about Colvin Run Elementary’s 3rd-grade teacher Ms. Zvijac. She has been nothing short of incredible this entire past year. She cared deeply about my daughter’s well being and progress. Her communication all year was open, honest, professional, and excellent in every way. She was intuitive and sensitive to my daughter’s needs and flexible and encouraging. Her unbridled enthusiasm for teaching is incomparable. My daughter had so much fun in her class that she wishes she could have her again next year. She truly encompasses everything of an ideal teacher and needs to be recognized for her dedication, enthusiasm, and compassion toward her students."

- a Colvin Run ES parent 

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Bissan Heise and Sarah Rupp, Providence ES

"Bissan Heise and Sarah Rupp are the counselors at my elementary school. Their caseload is huge - the entire school; over 800 students! Not a day goes by when I don't see one of them because they are here, there, and everywhere! They interact with students on a daily basis and adults sometimes stop by to discuss personal or student concerns. Their doors are always open and even if they are not immediately available, they are reachable by phone, email or a special bell. These two ladies are nothing short of AMAZING! In addition to their full schedules, they also run an incredible mentoring program! They have 40 plus students and an adult who meets with each child once a week to provide support and encouragement (thus they are working with 80 plus individuals!). They carefully choose adult mentors for each student and provide them with ongoing support and information (changes in schedule, upcoming events, etc.). There are activities planned throughout the year to allow mentees and mentors to connect. At the beginning of the year, there were Muffins for Mentors. In the middle of the year, there was a reflection on 2019 goals and activity. Most recently, the culminating event was a pizza lunch and craft. Sarah and Bissan, thank you for all you do for the staff and students at PES. As a staff mentor, I never went into MyPLT to officially register to be a mentor because "I didn't have time". The two of you (who have even less time than I do!) went in to manually add each staff member (who didn't already sign up) to the class! Sarah and Bissan, you are the epitome of FCPS cares! Every day you demonstrate this to the children and staff at PES. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. I think I can count (on one hand) the number of times I have seen the two of you sit down! The two of you are COUNselors we can COUNT on!"

- Stacy Greene, Providence ES

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Mary Feord, Yvette Oren, Melissa Hoffman, Debra Shifrin, Jillian Laferriere, Cathy Knowles, Hannah Miller, Kavita Andrews, Sabra Lowery, Shireen Roughani, and Sarah Aitcheson, Greenbriar East ES

"You are the best Special Education K-6 team! It has been a privilege to work with each of you these years. You demonstrated kindness, dedication, and professionalism. Many thanks to Mary Feord, Yvette Oren, Melissa Hoffman, Debra Shifrin, Jillian Laferriere, Cathy Knowles, Hannah Miller, Kavita Andrews, Sabra Lowery, Shireen Roughani and Sarah Aitcheson. You will be remembered throughout my retirement with positive thoughts."

- Pat Zeiss, Greenbriar East ES

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Megan Dunn, Frost MS

"My 8th-grader was really stressing about her Geometry Honors grade and subsequently, her chances of getting into a top university. I contacted Mrs. Dunn for some advice on how best to reassure my daughter that she would be accepted into a good college with her current grades. Mrs. Dunn took the initiative and pulled my daughter out of Falcon Focus to have an in-depth discussion with her on grades, math sequencing, and college admissions. My daughter was so reassured that she excitedly shared the details of her conversation with Mrs. Dunn with me. She finally acknowledged that she IS a great student. My husband and I could not be more grateful. Sometimes our kids need to hear the obvious from someone other than their parents. I am so appreciative of Mrs. Dunn. Her response and initiative helped a stressed-out kid take a step back and feel good about all of her academic efforts to-date."

- a Frost MS parent

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Fitzroy Collins, Lorton Transportation Center

"For the past year, Mr. Collins has been wonderfully patient with students. He always gives us a few extra precious minutes (which we really do not deserve) to make it to the bus... shoes in hand and running fast. There are far too many days we would have not made it to the bus were it not for Mr. Collins' graciousness. I always try to wait until he is on his way, so I can wave at him.  It is my way of saying THANK YOU!  Good job, Mr. Collins, we will certainly miss you next year!"

- a Stratford Landing ES parent

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Evelyn Ransom, Linda Nicholas, Sabina Chlus, Angela Palma, Brian Newburn, Debbie Drembus, and Kathy Tucker, Hollin Meadows ES

"Once again, our Hollin Meadows Elementary teachers and staff stepped up to show why HMES and FCPS Cares. Our PTA was the recipient of a National PTA Connected with Facebook: Digital Families Community Event. We needed presenters and we had 7 HMES teachers and staff volunteer to support our PTA at this evening event with guests visiting from National PTA, Facebook, ConnectSafely and other organizations. Ms. Ransom, Ms. Chlus, Ms. Palma, Ms. Nicholas, and Mr. Newburn, all facilitated breakout sessions for our families and Ms. Tucker and Ms. Drembus attended the event and helped out. We are always so appreciative of their time, especially late on a weekday evening, and it is one of the things that makes our school community special - the engagement of our teachers with PTA and family oriented events. Thank you for demonstrating why HMES Cares and for your support of our PTA!"

- Hollin Meadows ES PTA Board

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Doris Straughn, Edison HS

"Ms. Straughn always goes above and beyond what is expected in everything she does.  She is the shining star for students and staff within the World Languages Department and our entire school."

- Tara Daley, Edison HS

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Meagan Tubbs, Lake Braddock SS

"Meagan Tubbs was a new addition to my 8th-grade team this year as a special education teacher in team-taught Civics - and what a fabulous addition she is! Her team teacher has shared that Meagan is constantly making sure her students are learning best suited to their individual learning style, and feel at ease while also teaching them to advocate for themselves. Meagan has a natural rapport with her students and builds relationships by talking with them about music and trends they are interested in and engaging with them in afterschool activities. Meagan will personally reach out to students who are unable to attend class due to medical issues, to ensure that these students can also be successful. At this busy time of year, Meagan is still going above and beyond by introducing her students to their high school counselor to help ensure a smooth transition to 9th-grade.  Thank you, Meagan, for all that you do!"

- Kristin Girardin, Lake Braddock SS

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Pat Ward, Lake Braddock SS

"At Lake Braddock, students have a variety of options through which they can get involved in the local community. One of these ways is the Bridging Bruins Internship Program. Our Senior interns actively participate in the process of understanding, integrating, and applying skills sets from various subject areas as they work to establish professional strengths and promote the well being of the local community. We value our many staff members who serve as school-based mentors for our Seniors throughout their internship. There is one specific teacher, however, who goes WELL above and beyond to ensure this experience is nothing short of perfect for all who participate. Pat Ward is the mastermind behind the success of this program. The hours and hours that go into planning, organizing, communicating, and perfecting are all a credit to him. We are so thankful he chooses to take the lead role on our Bridging Bruins instructional team."

- Amy Soos, Tony Dibari, and Sandy Hunter, Lake Braddock SS

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Matt Bower, Frost MS

"Matt Bower has brought so many outstanding assets to the Frost staff and community. He has helped establish a wonderful staff/colleague positive recognition program, is one of our Interdisciplinary Team Leaders, the History 7 CT Leader, as well as coordinates our new staff and teacher mentor program. Mr. Bower has established meaningful relationships not only within the building but also with families in the community. He is a trusted teacher and colleague. When asking students to describe Mr. Bower, they were unable to choose just one word. Every student responded with, “Mr. Bower is nice, energetic, exciting, engaging, funny, honest, enthusiastic, understanding, and INSPIRING!” Multiple students also made a point to say what a dynamic team Mr. Bower and his team-teacher Mr. Murphy make, and that they felt so lucky to have both of them as their teachers. That says so much about the meaningful instructional collaboration Mr. Bower makes a priority for his students. Mr. Bower also makes time each week to send positive emails to students and parents, which has such a powerful impact on building positive & collaborative relationships. Students, parents, and colleagues know Mr. Bower is a dependable and highly invested teacher. I am fortunate to have worked with him this year and have taken away lots of positive professional growth myself!"

- Larkin Gibas, Frost MS

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Karlie Hale and Gina ONeal, Riverside ES

"SOL testing season is one of the most stressful times, but having Karlie and Gina coordinating everything really makes things smooth. Rooms are set up, tickets are ready to go, and materials are placed in our box. I am very thankful that they are there to support us not only during testing but also at other crucial times of the year!"

- Lorri Hallenbeck, Riverside ES

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Iris Vivanco, Stonecroft Transportation

"On May 23, 2019, we had severe weather (thunderstorm and tornado warning) around 3:15 pm in the afternoon. Tree branches were falling down and there was a tree fell on the street in my neighborhood. My kids were on the bus and I was really concerned. Later, my daughters arrived home safely and told me that Iris drove very carefully, and got off the bus to remove the branches/trees out of the way, and made sure all students got home safe and sound. This shows that Iris is a dedicated hard-worker and she really cares about our students. It gives us parents peace of mind, and we sincerely appreciate it." 

- an Oakton HS parent

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Jason Hardy, London Towne ES

"My son had the opportunity to work with Mr. Hardy last year when he was in 2nd grade. The year had been challenging for him and there were instances when he was getting in trouble and struggling with his behavior in the school environment as well as focusing on his tasks. Mr. Hardy works with children in this area, and they form a plan to keep struggling students on task and reach toward a goal. My son was very lucky to have had the chance to see and work with Mr. Hardy almost daily. In the field of childhood education, not all mentors can really communicate and speak to a child on their level, but that's not Mr. Hardy. He IS someone that uses positive reinforcement to help kids see their own potential and reach their goals. By the end of the school year, I saw a change in my son and I could also see his face light up when talking about Mr. Hardy. I've also heard he's known as the "child whisperer", meaning he's just so good at communicating with kids. They look forward to sharing their interests with him and he's awesome at being someone that they can talk to or relate to. He personalizes each teaching moment for every child that he comes across and that makes the moment that much more special for the child. He even came out to support my son at his football game, which was an extra pat on the back for him! Not every teacher or mentor goes that extra mile, but we're lucky that at our school we have someone that does this simply because he cares about the success of all students and will be there to show them that. My son continues to speak highly of Mr. Hardy and I'm happy that he had such a positive effect on him."

- a London Towne ES parent

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Molly Rumberger, South County HS

"Molly Rumberger is an absolute gift to South County High School.  She heads the theatre department and has given many students like my daughter a safe place to call home. Molly is full of joy and models dedication, compassion, inclusivity, and kindness always. She truly cares about her students, offers much encouragement and positivity, and fosters a nurturing learning environment where they can thrive and shine. Everyone loves Mrs. Rumberger and are extremely grateful for her!"

- a South County HS parent

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Michelle Gunderman, South County HS

"Michelle Gunderman was my son's counselor for four years and is now my daughter's counselor.  Words cannot adequately express how much she has helped our family.  Not only is she truly gifted at her job, but she is also a beautiful person who genuinely cares about her students and their families. She is always kind, patient, thoughtful, encouraging, and compassionate. She worked tirelessly to help my son succeed in school, graduate, and attend college and ensured my daughter's transition to South County went smoothly. We are extremely grateful for Mrs. Gunderman and her dedication to her students."

- a South County HS parent

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Diana Curry, Daniels Run ES

"I wanted to recognize my Instructional Assistant, Diana Curry, for her work this year.  She has been a joy to work with because she is professional, has a great manner with the children, follows directions, takes initiative, and asks questions when she doesn’t understand what is asked of her. She has also been instrumental in the progress of one of our students who has struggled to make progress for the past few years. This student has made great progress in both reading, writing, and math this year and has become more confident and socially aware.  Her teachers and her parents have noticed this change and I think that it is in large part due to the efforts of Diana, who works with the student in the classroom and has lunch with her on a regular basis. She has become an informal mentor to the student."

- Margaret Pontzer, Daniels Run ES

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Theresa Schilling, Virginia Run ES

"Ms. Schilling is consistently an enthusiastic and creative teacher who makes learning interesting through a project-based learning style.  She also works to include parents and the community into her classroom.  In April and May, after her students begged to be able to stay after with her, Ms. Schilling allowed students to stay after 2 to 3 days a week for "SOL camp".  The students played games and did activities to prepare for the SOLs.  Further, during the weeks of May, siblings were allowed to come. My daughter got to teach her brother. What better way to learn than to teach?"

- a Virginia Run ES parent