Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher, Finalists, and School Recipients

The outstanding secondary school new teachers recognized for 2020

2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher 

Samantha JajajelSamantha Jalajel
Speech & Drama Teacher
Frost Middle School, Region 5

Students, parents, and staff members often mention that Ms. Jalajel embodies their perfect vision of a teacher. Maya Angelou reminds us that “people will never forget how you made them feel.” Ms. Jalajel makes people feel connected. This connection is obvious, seen through the admiration and support of her colleagues, parents, and, most importantly, her students! Her middle school students say, “she makes it cool to be different, and “she gave me confidence in myself.” She showcases student talents on stage, welcoming Frost’s more reserved students to the Theatre community through the Tech class and production crew. She has grown the Frost theatre program tremendously - allowing all students to find success. To her students, she is the highlight of their day!


2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher Finalist 

samantha hallSamantha Hall
History and Social Studies Teacher
Centreville High School, Region 4

Samantha cares deeply about the success of each student and understands that success looks different for everyone. She meets students where they are and strives to help them grow academically and develop as individuals. Samantha uses relationship building as the foundation for a welcoming and inclusive classroom. Every day students enter a community of learning where they are supported by their peers, and a growth mindset is encouraged while learning challenging skills. Samantha collaborates with her CLT members to create meaningful lessons where the takeaways reach beyond the content. In the time she has been at Centreville High School, Samantha has immersed herself in the culture by creating community bonds with students’ families while attending extracurricular activities.


2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher Finalist 

carli mcintoshCarli McIntosh
Career & Transition Teacher
Davis Career Center, Region 2

Wherever you encounter Carli engaging her students, she is utilizing their strengths to address their individualized goals to become more independent citizens. One of Carli’s colleagues shared, “Although Carli works tirelessly to plan and implement curriculum specific to her students' needs, she makes the process seem so effortless and natural.” She demonstrates patience for giving students the space they need to experience real-world challenges in the community, while staying just close enough to support them and celebrate their successes. Another colleague added, “Carli honors all the stakeholder input when planning and delivering individualized and tailored student instruction.” She is passionate about empowering students and their families as they transition into life after FCPS.


2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher Finalist 

Ka'-ron Mataw Powell
Alternative School Teacher
Montrose ALC, Non-Region

Ka'-ron Mataw Powell

Ka’-ron is a proud graduate of South County HS, where he was inspired to teach when his math tutor took the time to show him new ways of thinking about the subject. He knew then that he wanted to help others discover a love of mathematics and to understand a subject that was often daunting. Working with 7th and 8th graders at Montrose ALC, he quickly discovered a passion for working with students who did not always understand how their school experiences could impact their personal lives and future opportunities. Ka’-ron credits the power of building meaningful relationships with his students for the success he’s experienced in his teaching and believes students learn best when they are engaged by a high-energy, interactive, and welcoming classroom environment.  


2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher Finalist 

Alexander White
Geosystems Teacher,
Mount Vernon High School, Region 3

alexander white

Alexander credits his success as a fledgling teacher to the wonderful teachers and staff around him. In the classroom, he holds his students to high standards and himself to even higher ones. Viewing success as a product of significance, he is excited to invest in each student, support his team, and celebrate the school. He believes that leadership happens through servanthood and that the best way to help students achieve great things is to meet them where they are, then encourages them to take risks and challenge themselves. Whether he is modifying blended learning content for colorblind students, staying after hours to support the science fair, or just engaging with students, he can always be found smiling as he works.


2020 Outstanding Secondary School New Teacher Finalist 

Michaela Wolf
English Teacher,
Madison High School, Region 1

Michaela Wolf

Students who know Ms. Wolf as their English teacher, homeroom teacher, club sponsor, or simply a warm greeter in the hallway, know that she is a safe and encouraging adult they can confide in, get academic help from, and speak their mind to. Michaela’s greatest joy as an educator is to show all her students that they are seen, heard, loved, and valued. She affirms students’ passions, unlocks their voices, equips their minds, and nurtures their self-confidence. Michaela demonstrates care for students in and outside her classroom by promoting wellness and culturally responsive teaching among her colleagues and her school’s student leaders. Michaela enthusiastically cultivates unity and connection in all her efforts to collaborate with students, families, and school staff.

2020 Outstanding Secondary School Recipients

  • Annandale High School
    • Laura Bolger, ESOL Teacher
  • Bryant High School
    • James Cruz, History & Social Studies Teacher
  • Burke School
    • Brian Fleury, Emotional Disabilities Teacher
  • Centreville High School
    • Samantha Hall, History & Social Studies Teacher *
  • Chantilly High School
    • Julianne Abruzzo, English Teacher
  • Cooper Middle School
    • Susan Poliquin, Mathematics Teacher
  • Davis Career Center
    • Carli McIntosh, Career & Transition Teacher *
  • Edison High School
    • Nicholas Western, Business and Information Technology Teacher *
  • Fairfax County Adult High School (FCAHS)
    • Shanda M. Robertson, High School English Language Arts Teacher
  • Fairfax High School
    • Megan Abraham, Chemistry Teacher *
  • Falls Church High School
    • Joshua Toth, History & Social Studies Teacher *
  • Franklin Middle School
    • Molly Bridenbaugh, History & Social Studies Teacher *
  • Frost Middle School
    • Samantha Jalajel, Speech & Drama Teacher *
  • Marshall High School
    • Lisa Lubick-Daniel, History & Social Studies Teacher
  • Glasgow Middle School
    • Megan Radek, Spanish Teacher *
  • Hayfield Secondary School
    • Elizabeth Crowe, ESOL Teacher *
  • Herndon High School
    • Heather Palm, Family & Consumer Science Teacher *
  • Holmes Middle School
    • Gregory Donitzen, General Science Teacher *
  • Hughes Middle School
    • Amy Zhang, English Teacher
  • Interagency Alternative Schools
    • Joseph Edwards, History Teacher, TSRC Alexandria
  • Irving Middle School
    • Manuel Montelongo, Multiple Disabilities Teacher
  • James Madison High School
    • Michaela Wolf, English Teacher *
  • Key Center
    • Marielle Sontag, Severe Disabilities Teacher *
  • Key Middle School
    • Kayla Schmidt, History & Social Studies Teacher
  • Kilmer Middle School
    • Emma Aulestia, English Teacher
  • Lake Braddock Secondary School
    • Ashley Elliott, Learning Disabilities Teacher *
  • Lanier Middle School
    • Debora Rivero, Mathematics Teacher
  • Lewis High School
    • Willa Boothe, Spanish Language Teacher
  • Liberty Middle School
    • Donna Stebner, Learning Disabilities Teacher
  • Longfellow Middle School
    • Alexandra Shults, Spanish Language Teacher *
  • McLean High School
    • Ed Ecker, Chemistry Teacher
  • Montrose ALC
    • Ka’-ron Powell, Alternative School Teacher *
  • Mount Vernon High School
    • Alexander White, Geosystems Teacher *
  • Oakton High School
    • Stephanie Martin, Mathematics Teacher *
  • Robinson Secondary School
    • Haley A. Crissman, History & Social Studies Teacher *
  • Rocky Run Middle School
    • Megan Stone, Spanish Language Teacher
  • South County High School
    • Hassan Moore, Physics Teacher
  • South County Middle School
    • Libby Briggs, Mathematics Teacher *
  • South Lakes High School
    • Abigail Reed, Learning Disabilities Teacher
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
    • Gwendolyn Wright, History & Social Studies Teacher *
  • West Potomac High School
    • Kip Rogers, Biology Teacher *
  • West Springfield High School
    • Allister Sloan, Mathematics Teacher *
  • Westfield High School
    • Alex Manikas, Intellectual Disabilities Teacher *
  • Whitman Middle School
    • John Kownacki, Speech and Drama Teacher

* Denotes Pyramid-Level Recipient