FCPS Honors Recognizes 2022 Outstanding Employees

News
June 09, 2022

Exceptional employees from across Fairfax County Public Schools were recognized at the FCPS Honors event held Wednesday, June 8. Sponsored by Educate Fairfax, the 2022 celebration was hosted at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. 

Annually, more than 700 employees in both instructional and operational roles are recognized through the Outstanding Employee Awards Program. This year, 71 finalists representing 12 categories were recognized during the special award ceremony. 

Among the finalists this year, Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in his opening comments there seemed to be a common thread—”adaptability” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the return to classrooms and offices.

“... You navigated the unexpected with grace and inspired those around you to do the same. Life is unpredictable, and adaptability is a great asset to have. Instead of focusing on the difficulties, you viewed them as opportunities.”

Below are winners in all 12 categories. Visit this webpage to learn more about this recognition program and the nominees in all categories

Outstanding Principal

Amy Miller

Amy Miller
Principal
Kilmer Middle School, Region 2

From the moment Amy Miller was named principal of Kilmer Middle School in 2020, it was clear that building relationships and fostering a culture of belonging is at the core of who she is as a school leader. Her open-door policy provides a warm and nurturing spirit. Amy enables teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost. Amy depends on her team and recognizes how critical teamwork is to teaching and learning. She has high expectations for her staff and students and motivates with affirmation, dialogue, respect, and kindness.

Outstanding Elementary Teacher

Essel Linton

Essel Linton
Music Teacher
Annandale Terrace Elementary School, Region 2

Essel’s music class is always filled with students singing, dancing, playing instruments and most importantly having fun while creating beautiful music together. She crafts intentional, meaningful, and highly engaging lessons while embracing the social, emotional, and cultural differences of all learners. Growing up in an immigrant family and being an English language learner herself, Essel brings her unique experiences to the creation of accessible lessons that integrate musical skills and language learning. From current and former students to mentoring the novice music educators, Essel’s impact as a teacher is felt community-wide.

Outstanding Secondary Teacher

Kathleen Jacoby

Kathleen Jacoby
Band Director
Herndon High School, Region 1

Kathleen Jacoby is an inclusive leader who has taught high school band for the past 18 years. She teaches and mentors students of widely different cultures, backgrounds, and income levels making her program accessible and inviting to all students and families. Her students succeed in every measure. Kathleen is also a leader in the Virginia music community. Her varied leadership roles, conference presentations, and educational projects have created formal structures to empower, uplift, and mentor students and educators from across the Commonwealth.

Outstanding New Principal

Ellen Mukai

Ellen Mukai
Principal
Brookfield Elementary School, Region 5

From her very first day at Brookfield, Ellen began fostering strong relationships with students, staff, and families, and established ways for the community to stay connected during the pandemic. She listened and carefully crafted plans addressing the many needs expressed as students transitioned from virtual to in-person learning. Under Ellen’s leadership, educators are inspired to adopt new practices to improve student outcomes. Brookfield teachers led the charge for concurrent learning, engaged families in fun and creative ways, and adopted student wellness strategies ensuring every Bronco knows they belong. 

Outstanding New Elementary Teacher

Shelby Megan Press

Shelby Megan Press 
Second Grade Teacher
Riverside Elementary School, Region 3

Each day represents a new opportunity in Miss Press’ class. Shelby makes all students feel a sense of belonging through the inclusive and safe learning environment she has created. She demonstrates empathy towards others, fostering meaningful relationships with her students and colleagues. Shelby celebrates the diversity of her students by engaging in culturally responsive literature and discussion. By setting high expectations for her students, she elevates their academics and social emotional development. She is a lifelong learner who embodies kindness, patience, and joy. Shelby is a collaborative colleague who radiates encouragement and goodwill to the students and staff at Riverside.

Outstanding New Secondary Teacher

Matthew Fredericks

Matthew Fredericks
Health and Physical Education Teacher
Hughes Middle School, Region 1

Despite the challenges of starting his career during the pandemic, Matt had a very successful first year teaching. He is always positive, relaxed, and willing to help with any task, no matter how big or small. “He spends valuable time building relationships,” by using his content to connect to students’ lives, a colleague noted, “because he knows that students will work hard for a teacher that cares about them.” In addition to his compassion for his students, Matt supports his colleagues as the wellness liaison for his school and a member of the AVID committee.

Outstanding School-Based Operational Employee

Frank Sarfo

Frank Sarfo
Custodian I
Little Run Elementary School, Region 5

The title of custodian does not embody all that Frank is to the Little Run staff, students, and families. Mr. Frank, as he is affectionately known, radiates positivity and has a contagious smile. He can be found greeting students with a special handshake. He is often heard asking students and staff about their day, their interests, and their families. If he observes a student crying or having a difficult time, he is quick to step in with a smile, a hug, or a pleasant comment. His exemplary work effort, joyful presence, and service mindset act as an example for everyone. 

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Operational Employee

Cassandra Ann Allen

Cassandra Ann Allen
Transportation Instructor
Forte Center, Transportation

Cassandra is committed to providing responsive, caring, and accurate training. She is thorough, patient, and makes certain every trainee has the knowledge to be successful. Cassandra is a leader who will take on any role asked of her. She took training courses to perform the duties of the administrative assistant and time and attendance processor until the position was filled. She volunteers to lead courses for other Fairfax County agencies and regularly assists with run coverage at various schools. She’s always inspiring others to achieve their goals while consistently ready to step up to the plate.

Outstanding School-Based Professional Employee

Blair Smith

Blair Smith
Assistant Director, Student Activities
Centreville High School, Region 4

“Blair is one of the most genuine and good-hearted people I have met. His positive energy is contagious, and we are lucky to call him a Wildcat.” Blair has taken on multiple leadership positions within Centreville, excelling at all roles. He worked countless hours fostering a collaborative environment with all stakeholders ensuring student-athletes were given the time, space, support, and resources necessary to safely return to play during seasons impacted by rapidly changing COVID guidelines and protocols. Blair builds relationships with staff and families, allowing them to feel supported and heard. 

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Professional Employee

Rebecca Jo Pollard

Rebecca Jo Pollard
Project Support Coach
Willow Oaks Administrative Center, Instructional Services

Described as a systems thinker, one colleague stated: “Rebecca’s skills in seeing the big picture while connecting the underpinning dots is unparalleled. Her strategic thinking, communication, and technical skills have uniquely contributed to FCPS at all leadership levels.” Rebecca’s focus, determination, and agility provided organizational support for significant projects during the pandemic. Rebecca coordinated communication resources to ensure schools and division leaders had access to critical resources and progress updates. Whether supporting the creation and distribution of learning books or supporting the development of the FCPS Virtual Program, Rebecca combined her knowledge of instructional best practices and project management skills to ensure that equitable access to learning was at the center of all decisions.

Outstanding School-Based Leader

Bianca Aiello 

Bianca Aiello 
Director, Student Services
Poe Middle School, Region 2

Bianca Aiello’s guiding principle is "if you lead with your heart, you will never be wrong." She is a compassionate leader, fostering strong relationships within the Annandale Pyramid, and focusing on student success in academics, behavior, and wellness. She ensures that families have equitable access to the information that is crucial to their student’s success. Bianca’s work ethic and personal demeanor have helped her school build a caring culture, earned through the respect and trust she demonstrates to all stakeholders. Because Bianca leads with her heart, she always finds joy in her work.

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Leader

Melissa Russell

Melissa Russell
Director II, Payroll Management
Gatehouse Administration Center, Financial Services

Melissa’s lifelong desire to be part of a bigger mission led her to FCPS. She continually suggests changes to positively impact the flow of information and seamless delivery of pay to employees. She has worked tirelessly to bring process improvements while staying focused on meeting the challenges of serving employees. Melissa recognizes that a synergistic approach to anything, from problem solving to program design, yields the best results. Capitalizing on this belief, she welcomes every stakeholder to the table to gain their perspective.