Excellence Awards - Team Winners

Recognizing Multiple Pathways to Excellence

2021 Team Winners

Growth Category 

Contributes to the development and/or improvement of programs, services, or curriculum; fosters staff growth, effectiveness, or professional development. Addresses existing systemic equity challenges to ensure access.

Six NoVA School-Based Technology Coaches

  • Alison Costanza, Lindsey Fisher, Elizabeth McDowell, Regina Natale, Tabitha Reber, Margaret Sisler

school-based technology coachesThis team of school based technology specialists leaned on each other, learned together and led the way for their schools through many changes, including piloting Schoology and switching from distance learning to concurrent instruction. These six SBTS work in different schools, levels and across different regions. They have fostered growth in each other, the staff members in their schools, the greater SBTS community and beyond. They model collaboration and resiliency in all they do, adjusting to changes as they come and help teachers navigate how to best meet the needs of their students. Through ongoing feedback, they've been able to create learning experiences for teachers that best support their current needs, all while anticipating future needs.

Brookfield Concurrent Pilot Team

  • Meghan Bourne, Kevin Feighery, Roxsana Flores–Serrano, Lauren Hansen, Kristine Jessup, Cori Lonnett, Jennifer W. McNulty, Elizabeth Reed, Lisa Sharabi, Tracey L. Snyder Dangler, Heather Tickle, Cathy Velis, Courtney Washington, Sharron K. Wooden, Emily Zarybnisky

brookfield concurrent pilot teamThe Brookfield Concurrent Pilot Team consists of 15 fierce educators and staff members who courageously volunteered to pilot the concurrent instructional model in October of 2020. They were among the first teachers to bring students into classrooms during the pandemic and understood FCPS was looking for innovators who could help others learn and grow in the areas of layered prevention strategies and concurrent teaching. Team members demonstrated growth-mindsets, creativity, and vulnerability as they made their learning visible by opening their classrooms to visitors each day. The work of this amazing team resulted in a set of best practices that were shared with educators throughout the division, allowing for a safe and positive return to in-person learning in FCPS. 

Rocky Run Middle School Equity Leadership Team

  • Aminda Davis, Pamela Galietta, Rachel Grover, Kenneth Harman, Ariana Larson, Carlydale Murphy, Sandra Rozo Meador, Rachel Sweeney, Julianna M. Tiss, Mohammad Zishhan

rocky run middle school equity leadership teamRocky Run’s Equity Leadership Team did not let the challenges of the pandemic stop them from initiating programming that was critical to the facilitation of staff growth and effectiveness during this school year. By doubling the size of the group, then targeting key areas of need and creating committees to divide the work, they were able to make real progress on addressing the school’s systemic equity challenges. Accomplishments included: fostering staff growth and addressing issues of equity and opportunity through professional development activities such as a teacher book club and focused data presentations; involving families in the conversation through an equity-focused Town Hall and parent-teen book club; and welcoming student voice through the creation of a thriving Student Equity Team. 

School Counseling and College Success Team

  • Kristen Biernesser, Kasey Cain, Lauren Crispino, Emily Emery, Stephanie J. Gray, Lynette Henry, Karen Huffman, Eric Kinne, Denise Lee, Joan Lee, Steven Myers, Eileen G. Ruzicka, Tracey R. Scott, Lakeyta Smith, Bridget Mary Wright

school counseling and college success teamSchool Counseling Services (SCS) and College Success Programs (CSP) aligns with and supports the instructional mission of FCPS by promoting and increasing academic success and college and career readiness for all students. CSP is designed to eliminate gaps in access, opportunity, and attainment and support students from populations that are traditionally marginalized especially due to barriers caused by poverty, differing abilities, racism, and lack of access to resources. These school counselors, directors of student services, college and career specialists and SCS staff work collaboratively as leaders and advocates to provide an equitable education for all students. 


Impact on Others Category

Develops successful partnerships and outreach to parents, businesses or neighborhoods; provides community services or service learning projects; displays outstanding responsiveness, customer service, or customer satisfaction. Demonstrates cultural responsiveness in building relationships and leverages impact to address equity.

Braddock Elementary School Spanish Immersion/FLES Team

  • Jennie Bromeland, Zuleika Budet, Elsa Arlene Fuentes, Maria Isabel Tincoff, Lourdes M. Marquez Clemente, Wanda I. Negron Rivera, Margarita Rodriguez Ortiz, Jakelin Soriano Lake

Braddock Elementary School Spanish Immersion/FLES TeamThese women strengthened the bridge of partnership between the school and community, going above and beyond during an unimaginable time of challenge and change, to ensure the Braddock Elementary Eagles would continue to be engaged, inspired and thrive in all learning experiences. By improving communication between school and community, Braddock Elementary parents gained a better understanding of the importance of being more involved in their child’s learning experiences.

Equity & Cultural Responsiveness Team

  • Kimberly Amenabar, Raven A. Compton, Tara Paige Hewan, Robert J. Kerr, Shannon E. Merriweather, Tu Phillips, Darnessia Semper, Leona Smith-Vance, Junena A. Thomas

Equity & Cultural Responsiveness TeamDynamic, dedicated, selfless, collaborative, knowledgeable and skilled, grace under fire! These are all descriptors for the Equity and Cultural Responsiveness (ECR) Team in the Office of Professional Learning and Family Engagement. The ECR Team impacts over 24,000 FCPS colleagues as they coach, model, and teach equitable practices and culturally responsive behaviors. The team’s work also extends to students and families in many ways. One is the establishment of the Student Equity Ambassador Leaders (SEAL) leadership program for high school students. The program provides SEALs an opportunity to amplify their student voices and provide opportunities for increased understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The ECR Team consistently delivers work that drives the division toward truly being a more equitable, responsive, and affirming educational place for all. 

FCPS COVID-19 Communications Team

  • Amy Bailey, Tracy Barry, Camille Bartus, Allison Calderon, Teresa Gallahan, Richard Michelback, Tara C. Murray, John Reynolds, Mandy Stevens Jolly, Lorraine Trouton, Anne Winters

covid-19 communications teamAs we know the 2020 and 2021 have been years full of challenges. Federal, state and local public health requirements and division wide communication needs have required the development of innovative collaborations and partnerships to meet the needs of our Division. A cross-departmental team to include Human Resources; Student Athletics; Safety and Security; Communications; and School Health was developed. This team worked tirelessly over the last year to build resources and develop solutions that had a significant impact on the entire school Division. This dynamic team has efficiently and effectively solved problems; implemented creative solutions; provided required data for data-driven decision-making; and overcome all obstacles when faced with constantly evolving federal, state and local requirements. 

Interagency Alternative Schools Residential Team

  • Betsy Geddes, Susan A. Lemarie, Brian Miller, Kelly Morgan, Adam Wong

Interagency Alternative Schools Residential TeamThe Interagency Alternative Schools partner with residential programs in the county to provide school based instruction to students who are in these programs. The Fairfax Sheriff's Department, Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and Community Service Board have students who are working on their High School Diploma and/or GED. The teachers at these programs are an integral part to the running of the program and provide a huge service to the community. The Adult Detention Center, Shelter Care, and Leland House serve students who are at a point of crisis in their lives, and the staff are highly trained interventionists who support them where they are academically and emotionally. The bond between FCPS and these agencies saves kids’ lives.

Lake Braddock Secondary Grade 8 Bruins In Action Capstone Teachers

Lake Braddock Secondary Grade 8 Bruins In Action Capstone Teachers

  • Daniel Callahan, Randy Cayea, Jennifer Cortesi, Michael Edwards, J. Carin Frank, Lorie Goode Ward, Katherin Denisse Gordon, Dana Gorman, Niki L. Holmes, Carolyn Jeryl Hilyard, Courtney Klein, James Mroz, Kasey Reagan, Diane Rogers, Justin Toney

The Lake Braddock Secondary School Grade 8 Bruins In Action (BIA) Capstone Team of Teachers includes 15 educators and professionals working within an array of departments throughout the school. This innovative group is integral to the success of the Capstone that celebrates the culmination of middle school for Lake Braddock’s 8th grade students. In addition to the Instructional Support Team (which also includes the two middle school librarians), the middle school departments associated with the success of the BIA Capstone include English, Math, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies and Student Services. An audacious undertaking such as the BIA Capstone can only be accomplished with the talents and dedication of a team that resembles this one. Congratulations to this team!  

Region Education Specialist Team

  • Cynthia Foglio, Charles Hom, Kristin Jones Wiley, Christine MacWilliams, Jessica Mills Duvel

Region Education Specialist TeamThe Region Education Specialist Team is made up of dynamic leaders in the Office of School Support who impact others across FCPS. They go above and beyond to support region and school leaders, collaborate with colleagues across offices, and supervise a team of resource teachers. They offer direct support to schools by coaching, consulting, and coordinating resources. Each member possesses a unique skill-set encompassing high intellect, resolve, credibility, empathy, and care. The team is highly credible and versatile, values collaboration, builds relationships, models initiative and professionalism, approaches others with openness, uses data to drive decision making, and employs a problem-solving approach. Their impact improves overall experiences for all staff and students in FCPS. 

Remote Tech Support Transition Team

  • Jesse Albert, John E. Belyea, Jodi L. Denne, Paul Downey, Mehdi Harandi, Dienson Ho, Justin Huff, Charles Kim, Kimberly Lacy, Chris Lewis, Tainiko Lowman, Heather Murray, Laura M. Organek, David Anthony Shivik

Remote Tech Support Transition TeamIn mid-March 2020, we were faced with the possibility that school would have to shut down. Information Technology staff acted quickly. The impact of this team cannot be overstated. Their influence reached beyond their individual work groups to all FCPS and made virtual instruction possible. Their work included launching a remote management tool for all computers, a solution for 189,000 passwords expiring, many improvements to support processes, a new student/parent help desk form and support desk, and Technology Support specialists providing virtual and ongoing in-person support to the School Board and Leadership Team. This team, through their flexibility and innovative solutions, contributed greatly to the success of FCPS during the past year. 

SIS Scheduling and Return to School Support Team

  • Riffat T. Ahmad, Betsy Church, Anita L. Desrivieres, Janett M. Garcia, Bethany Hick, Patricia C. Lopez, Alejandra Liz Lopez Peredo, Matthew D. Morton, Susan Nazario, Sarah Nguyen, Mark E. Quigley, Keonna Reinholz, Megan Elizabeth Spain, Karin J. Stamper, Keith Walker

SIS Scheduling and Return to School Support TeamThis team has developed a great partnership with staff from Instructional Services and Special Services, as well as School-Based Technology Specialists, Student Information Assistants and Directors of Student Services at the schools. SBTS have been provided frequent Gradebook workshops and training to help them train and communicate to their own faculties the important grading changes. Student Information Assistants and Directors of Student Services have been given additional support as well as workshops to help with scheduling challenges. This team consists of many former school-based staff who value and empathize with the schools as to what is needed to support their school staffs. They use that lens to make sure any potential changes and adjustments are reviewed and tested for the least impact on schools. 

Technology Distribution Team

  • James Albert Bochert, Karri A. de la Houssaye, Gregory Edwards, Gordon Jenkins, Rufus G. Kelly, Tony Klepic, Esteban D. Lopez, Glen Swilley, Steven Upthegrove, Will Waite, Vanessa Williams, Melissa Jo York

Technology Distribution TeamThe distribution of a device to every FCPS student in the midst of a pandemic was a critical activity during a time of high emotion and lack of information about COVID-19. This team worked tirelessly to support Technology Support Specialists and schools as they distributed technology and MiFis in the days after schools closed their physical doors. The senior Technology Support Specialists spent weekends and many weekdays after hours working on drafting guidelines, talking with their staff, working with translation services, evaluating levels of devices available for each site, procuring PPE and problem-solving numerous challenges. 


Innovation Category

Contributes to efficiency or effectiveness through cost savings, creativity, or problem solving; engages in reflection to craft culturally responsive solutions that eliminate barriers; develops new ideas that show promise for a broad impact to FCPS.

Digital Learning Resource Distribution Broadcast and Streaming Support Team

  • James Carnegie Lomax, Shelly Carney, Philippe R. Cloutier, Jen Henderson, Richard H. Hronik Jr., Dan Tackett

Digital Learning Resource Distribution Broadcast and Streaming Support TeamAs the COVID pandemic began, the need for the school district to continue to support public facing meetings grew, but the meetings could not be in a physical room at any building, but instead broadcast on cable and streamed on the Internet. The DLRD Broadcast and Streaming Support Team made this happen. In one two-week period this team supported 30 events – an average of 3 major events per workday. Throughout the year it was not unusual for team members to work 12, 14 or even an occasional 16-hour day well into the morning hours to support the critical mission of the School Board as it negotiated though the demands of the Pandemic. 

Interagency Alternative Schools Administrative Team

  • Alison Cordo, Brandon Morehead, Michaelle O’Brien, David Penland

Interagency Alternative Schools Administrative TeamThe Interagency Alternative School Programs (IAS) Assistant Administrators not only led their school through the 2020-21 pandemic year, which required providing instructional and managerial leadership to 19 locations spread throughout FCPS, they also, despite the pandemic, opened in-person instruction at residential court facilities on September 8, 2020, and remained in-person the full year. They designed robust tiered protocols to provide intensive support for the division’s neediest students, engaged in monthly equity dialogues and movie nights, and strengthened the professional learning community even though content teachers are separated by highways rather than hallways, and continued to nurture an organization-wide Kids at Hope cultural framework.

Schoology Project Team

  • Neva M. Apsche, Kimberlee Cardany, Michael J. Cieslak, Heather Crouch, Erik D. Dahlin, Sharon J. Dickens, Torey Diggs, Rebecca Foley, John Kim, Rose Kraus, Mary Lewis, Andrea L. Martin Jones, Susan Nazario, Aron Sterling, Shane Wheeler

Schoology Project TeamThe Schoology Project Team effectively and efficiently implemented a new Learning Management System during a pandemic, saving the system money and introducing an innovative project design. After awarding the contract to Schoology in 2019, the team was strategically assembled based on the Knoster model of complex change, which had never been done in FCPS. Teams include Communication, Success, Vision, Professional Learning & Skills, eCART, Permissions, SIS, Google, Inclusiveness & Commitment, and Third Party Tools. With their commitment and strong collaboration, they redesigned the implementation plan to complete milestones and support pilot schools. Schoology will serve over 500,000 users, which will help eliminate barriers, increase equity of access and experiences, and serve our community. 

Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network (VALIN) Team

  • Cindy Conley, Christie Day, Andrea Hand, Greg Hood, Bettrys Huffman, Jeff Lonnett, Daniel W. Smith

Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network (VALIN) TeamThe FCPS Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network Team was selected by VDOE to support deeper learning, learner engagement, and equity by expanding balanced assessment practices within FCPS and across the state. The team focused on FCPS Student Success Goal 1 through Portrait of a Graduate Presentations of Learning and the use of performance assessments for all students. Comprised of members from Instructional Services, the Department of School Improvement and Supports, and principals, this team drove the process for FCPS’ application as a VDOE School Division of Innovation. This School Board approved application details a plan to increase equity in student access to Portrait of a Graduate outcomes and performance assessments. 


Student Achievement Category

Contributes to student success by closing the achievement gap through the use of culturally responsive practices, measuring progress using assessments, implementing interventions, or student engagement.

Elementary Distance Learning Support Team

  • Natalie Baumstark, Adam Bowen, Sandra Brennan, Matt Fetters, Donny Haller, Margaret Kivlen, Robin M. Noonan-Price, Tracy Soular, Scott Sterling Springston, Tina Utz

Elementary Distance Learning Support TeamThe Elementary Distance Learning Support Team created a pathway for students to continue to have access to “school” at the beginning of the pandemic when everything was unknown. The team, made up members from the Integrated Digital Technology Services group, partnered with multiple teams in Instructional Services to create over 500 videos that were packaged into “learning blocks” and put on both cable channels, streamed over the Internet, and loaded to YouTube. All the videos were captioned and all of the math videos were also translated into Spanish. The videos that were loaded to YouTube had over 800,000 views and were played for more than 41,000 hours by parents and students.

GED Readiness and New Technology Skills (GRANTS) Central

  • Nora Christine Kuehn, Kelcy Pierre

GED Readiness and New Technology Skills (GRANTS) CentralThe GRANTS/ISAEP Program is funded by a federal grant to provide an individualized alternative education program for students to complete their education and gain needed job skills. The GRANTS Central Program is located at the Fairfax Courthouse, and serves students from around the county. Students who are at least 16 years old, are a year behind or at risk of not graduating have the opportunity to work toward their High School Equivalency while learning skills and working in the community. Parents and School Counselors can refer a student to this program. 

Virtual Learning Resources Support Team

  • Neva M. Apsche, Aradia Bath, Nitin Bhatia, Rebecca R. Boyer, Kimberlee Cardany, Heather Crouch, Erik D. Dahlin, Rebecca Foley, Rose Kraus, Andrea L. Martin Jones, Sarah Niel, Tammi Sisk, Rick Stegman, Sarah Maria Young

Virtual Learning Resources Support TeamThis group worked on supporting, training and providing additional resources and supports for the virtual learning tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, Google Meet, and FCPS 24-7. This effort was highly visible as supports were provided to school staffs and families. Training and documentation was geared to reach all audiences, including special education and multilingual supports. This work was supportive of the foundation of our virtual learning model and was unprecedented in FCPS history nor has any other school system’s attempted to provide so much to all its community. This was a tremendous effort by a cross departmental team of experts in many fields who represent and support our schools to the very best of their abilities! 

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