Mary Bauer Named FCPS 2018 Outstanding Elementary Teacher, Alissa Oginsky Named FCPS 2018 Outstanding Secondary Teacher

News Release
June 07, 2018

Mary Bauer, a non-categorical special education teacher at Orange Hunt Elementary School, has been named Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) 2018 Outstanding Elementary Teacher, and Alissa Oginsky, a sixth grade teacher at Holmes Middle School, has been named FCPS 2018 Outstanding Secondary Teacher. The announcement was made by FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand at FCPS Honors, a ceremony that recognizes the winners of FCPS employee awards.

Mary BauerBauer, now in her fourth year at Orange Hunt, is praised by former supervisor Sarah Brooker as having “done more for student success than other teachers will accomplish in their careers.”  Brooker says that Bauer has designed her room to welcome a variety of learners, complete with stations and centers in every corner, offering equal access to each student. A student who entered kindergarten for the first time was identified as “incredibly bright and his behaviors and medical needs compromised his availability for instruction on a daily basis,” explained Brooker.  Bauer worked collaboratively with the family to enable him to achieve academic success as well as independence in daily living routines.  “She poured her heart and soul into the success of this student and by the end of kindergarten, he was reading and completing math work at a first grade level,” said Brooker.  Another student, a second-language learner with an individualized education program, was helped by Bauer’s consultations with the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teacher as she worked to help the student understand text in new ways.

Bauer is praised for her use of manipulatives with students to make tasks appear more concrete, using calm down and sensory areas as well as trampolines in the classroom, and implementing a behavior program for the entire class.  “She is able to generate excitement in her students and uses multiple modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) to make learning meaningful,” says nominator Melissa Johnson, who adds that Bauer teaches social and coping skills and executive functioning to her students as well as academics. “Mary works towards fostering inclusive practices, which means she has to communicate and collaborate with many outside service providers, general education teachers, and families so that students can be successful,” adds Johnson.

As the local screening chair for special education, Bauer manages, coordinates, and conducts all meetings related to the special ed eligibility process.  She is praised for her leadership and guidance of a process that can be emotional for families, keeping students as the focus for educators and family members. Orange Hunt principal Karen Tuttle praises Bauer for working tirelessly for her students. “Whether in the classroom with students or as a participant in collaborative team meetings, Mary was engaged and demonstrated that she was a learner willing to take risks,” states Tuttle. “She pushed herself and colleagues. She made sure that students made progress.”

Bauer also weighs in on prospective special education teacher hires and worked on a complex master schedule, including developing individual schedules for each special ed student.  She also mentors new special education teachers, providing feedback and ensuring they are fully prepared for a variety of settings.

Prior to joining the staff at Orange Hunt, Bauer worked as a substitute teacher and preschool teacher in New York.  She earned her master of science degree in teaching at LeMoyne College in Syracuse.

Alissa OginskyAs a social studies lead teacher at Holmes and at the regional level, Oginsky shares resources with and provides professional learning opportunities for colleagues.  Colleagues say her class comes alive through the use of primary and secondary sources.  “As a former coach for the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources program and holder of a museum education graduate degree, Alissa is truly an expert in her field,” says nominator Natrisha Rakestraw.  “Alissa’s students get to touch artifacts from West Africa, analyze portraits from the colonial time period, and interact with maps from the Age of Exploration through the Civil War.”

Oginsky was selected as Mount Vernon’s Teacher of the Year in 2016, enabling her to share information and ideas on facilitating student learning and creating student-friendly lesson plans in conjunction with Mount Vernon. She serves as an educational consultant for a digital tool used by Mount Vernon and plans to write education blog posts for the estate’s website. 

Holmes principal Margaret Barnes praises Oginsky as a “dynamic teacher who actively engages her students in rigorous learning experiences each day.  While she teaches Early American History content, she connects students to larger, global concepts to make what they are learning relevant to their everyday lives.”  She cites Oginsky’s project with students to research the school’s history, and the land on which it sits, for Holmes’ 50th anniversary.  “She dedicated a great deal of time and effort to design a timeline display that anyone who visits Holmes can see in our front hallway,” adds Barnes.

In addition to teaching, Oginsky co-leads the mentoring program at Holmes, enabling students to build positive relationships with staff members.  She also sponsors clubs and intramural teams after school as well as coaches a volleyball team. Nominator Meredith Mitchell recalls, “I had the privilege of observing her closely during the afternoons, and watched as she adeptly created a team out of the diverse, multi-grade group of students she was working with.”

Oginsky began her career with FCPS as a teacher at Fox Mill Elementary and Coates Elementary before coming to Holmes in 2010. She has served as an educator at the College Park Aviation Museum, Mount Vernon, and the International Spy Museum; and as a program coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from York College of Pennsylvania, and a master of arts in museum and gallery education from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

For more information, contact the FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200
Additional information about winners announced at the 2018 FCPS Honors is available online