FCPS Honors Recognizes 2024 Outstanding Employees

By Office of Communications
June 13, 2024

Exceptional employees from across Fairfax County Public Schools were recognized at the FCPS Honors event held Wednesday, June 12. Sponsored by Educate Fairfax, the 2024 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. 

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

Outstanding Elementary New Teacher

Mary Ann Cassell

Multiple Disabilities Teacher
Lorton Station Elementary School, Region 6

Mary Ann Cassell

Mary Ann has dedicated her life to improving the lives of students with autism, which led her to teaching. She deeply believes that all students are capable of great success. As a special education teacher, Mary Ann develops a positive, supportive, and nurturing rapport that creates a safe environment where students learn, grow developmentally, and have fun in the process. Mary Ann values compassion and service and strives to enrich the school community by sharing her experience and collaborating with colleagues to help her students and all others succeed. Her favorite part of teaching is celebrating the growth of her students which allows them to participate fully in their family, school, and community.

Outstanding Secondary New Teacher

Symone Keolani Jenkins

English Teacher
West Potomac High School, Region 3

Symone Keolani Jenkins

Symone has a passion for igniting every classroom she enters. With boundless enthusiasm, she cultivates an environment where her students thrive, not only academically but also socially and personally. Symone’s teaching philosophy is rooted in diversity and inclusion, recognizing the richness that different perspectives bring to learning. She fosters a safe space where every voice is valued, empowering her students to embrace their unique identities. Through genuine care and innovative teaching methods, Symone sparks a love for literature and writing in her students, as she nurtures their growth and confidence. Her hope is that her impact extends beyond the classroom; instilling empathy and understanding to prepare her students to navigate through our world with grace and respect.

Outstanding New Principal

Raven Jones

Luther Jackson Middle School, Region 2

Raven N. Jones

Raven relentlessly works to build a positive and collaborative school culture where everyone can see themselves reflected and know that they are valued members of the school. She balances a results-driven approach with a deep commitment to the well-being and care of the school community and works to remove barriers to equitable access and outcomes at Jackson. Raven has a clear vision for teaching and learning and dedicates herself to the staff and students' professional, academic, and personal growth. She does not shy away from tough conversations but approaches difficult situations with compassion and an unwavering focus on student outcomes. Raven’s dedication to ensuring the long-term, holistic success of students and staff has transformed culture at Jackson.

Outstanding School-Based Operational Employee

Thelma Pemberton-Abbott

Instructional Assistant
Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School, Region 3

Thelma R. Pemberton-Abbott

Thelma was told on her first day in FCPS 25 years ago that her job was to "fill in the blanks." Each morning she stands at the door, gives each student a multiplication fact, and checks in with them as to how they are doing. At dismissal, she stands at the door, high-fives each student and tells them "be awesome" and now the students are telling her “be awesome” right back! She is known for being a pillar of support at Mount Vernon Woods, constantly asking other staff members how she can help lighten their load. She continues to fill in the blanks daily, and with a smile!

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Operational Employee

Anith Muthalaly

Staff Assistant
Forte Center, Chief Academic Office

Anith Muthalaly

Beginning as an hourly warehouse employee, Anith has evolved into a pivotal figure in the Office of Assessment and Reporting. Anith's commitment to excellence is evident in his development of systems to streamline data auditing and monitoring processes, ensuring accuracy and equity in student assessment data. His proactive approach to learning and skill development, exemplified by his mastery of the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) syntax language, highlights his relentless pursuit of growth. Anith's leadership shines through his ability to seamlessly collaborate with diverse teams, fostering effective communication and driving efficiency in every endeavor. His resilience and attention to detail have earned him praise as a meticulous and indispensable asset.

Outstanding School-Based Professional Employee

Daryl Byrom

Special Education Department Chair
Lewis High School, Region 6

Daryl C. Byrom

Having been in FCPS for the past 20 years, Daryl has worked in many different facets of special education. He is currently the Adapted Curriculum Special Education Department Chair at Lewis High School. Most see Daryl running through the hallways, laptop in hand, making many stops along the way ensuring team members and students have everything they need. Otherwise, you can find him in special education meetings conversing with parents or collaborating with colleagues. If you ask Daryl his favorite part of the job, he’d say “First and foremost, the students are awesome and the special education team is amazing. After that, there’s never a dull moment in my position. Most days, I look back and wonder where the day went!”

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Professional Employee

Karen Bolt

Photographic Specialist
Gatehouse Administration Center, Chief Experience & Engagement Office

Karen Bolt

Karen captures the "BEST of FCPS"! Her images capture students learning, laughing, and engaging with their work, and teachers and staff making connections with their students, inspiring and rejoicing in student success. She is on hand to capture celebrations of retirees, honored employees, institutes, seminars, and programs showing our diverse, adaptive, and supported workforce. While on photo shoots, she projects harmony, teamwork, and enthusiasm, so all feel comfortable and at ease as they are photographed. She participates fully in seeking out not only what needs to be photographed, but the message that needs to be communicated through the camera lens – always well-prepared with an excellent vision of where she would like to go with each and every shot captured.

Outstanding School-Based Leader

Danielle Hornbecker

Director of Student Services
Frost Middle School, Region 5

Danielle Hornbecke

Danielle exemplifies the belief that if it benefits students, she will find a way to make it happen. She empowers educators to seek solutions and remove barriers for the benefit of the students. She proactively creates structures and supports that provide access and opportunity for all students resulting in an increase in enrollment in advanced coursework. Her commitment to involving stakeholders, analyzing data, and providing professional development builds collective efficacy among all staff members. By creating meaningful relationships, she ensures her teams value diverse perspectives and create safe spaces for meaningful dialogue and collaboration. Danielle is an instructional leader who consistently demonstrates integrity, professionalism, and collaboration in her work with students, staff, and the greater school community to champion student success. 

Outstanding Nonschool-Based Leader

Beth Visioli

Director, Communications
Gatehouse Administration Center, Chief Experience & Engagement Office

Beth Visioli

After spending 12 years at Inova Health System, Beth joined FCPS in 2015. Being a part of mission-driven work is important to her, and she feels strongly about uplifting the purpose of public education and the people who dedicate their lives to this challenging work. Beth believes that strong leaders listen to their team and prides herself on giving her staff opportunities to learn and grow in the critical work of supporting FCPS’ mission. She knows that developing relationships built on trust creates efficiency and effectiveness in the work of strategic communications. Specifically, she is proud of her efforts to develop a crisis communications plan and to streamline school leader access to messaging for communities. 

Outstanding Elementary Teacher

Shea Hestmark

Second Grade Teacher
Columbia Elementary School, Region 6

Shea Hestmark

Shea is a dedicated and passionate second-grade teacher committed to fostering a welcoming environment, supporting student agency, and creating rigorous learning opportunities. Through developing strong relationships, Shea successfully motivates her students to take risks and grow as learners. Her commitment to equity and inclusion drives her to advocate for all students, ensuring each individual feels valued and supported in their educational journey. Shea’s work does not end at her classroom door, as she has taken on various leadership roles dedicated to ensuring the success of all students within her school community. Shea believes effective communication, an atmosphere of trust, and a commitment to inclusion drive positive change. 

Outstanding Secondary Teacher

Madison McKenna

Severe Disabilities Teacher
West Springfield High School, Region 4

Madison McKenna

Madi works tirelessly to create unique and inclusive experiences for all students at West Springfield High School. She encourages her fellow Spartans to find the beauty in connecting with others and to foster meaningful relationships in the world of education.Through her reestablishment of Buddies Club, her initiative to enroll students with disabilities in Leadership and Student Government Association, and her sponsorship of many senior classes, Madi has been able to bridge the social gap between her students and their peers. She has established a family dynamic with her team and together, they provide opportunities for students that may never have been possible otherwise. The passion that she exudes is infectious and has inspired the next generation to pursue a career in special education. 

Outstanding Principal

Jamie Gadley

Dranesville Elementary School, Region 1

Jamie Gadley

Jamie is an educator and leader fueled by a passion for creating a vibrant learning community where connection, care, and joy are evident. She believes that every student and staff member deserves the opportunity to flourish in a safe and supportive learning environment. Her leadership has played a pivotal role in aligning the school's vision and goals with the broader objectives of the school district, resulting in the Virginia Department of Education 2023 Continuous Improvement Exemplar Award and the reduction of chronic absenteeism. Her dedication extends beyond the school walls, fostering partnerships within the community to elevate connection, access, relationships, excellence, and stakeholder engagement. DranesvilleCARES, indeed, and Jamie is a champion for the mission and the members of the Dranesville community.