Eight educators today learned of their selection as 2015 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year during surprise classroom visits and announcements made by their division superintendents — and in the case of a Chesterfield County chemistry teacher — Governor Terry McAuliffe and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “At the heart of Virginia’s national and international reputation for excellent and innovative public schools are thousands of smart and dedicated teachers who are epitomized by the eight recognized today as best of the best,” McAuliffe said after announcing the selection of James River High chemistry teacher Tara L. Brunyansky as the 2015 Region I Teacher of Year.
The other seven 2015 Regional Teachers of the Year announced are as follows:
- Bevin K. Reinen, a first-grade teacher at Three Oaks Elementary in Virginia Beach (Region 2)
- Jennifer H. Worrell, a fourth-grade language arts teacher at Petsworth Elementary in Gloucester County (Region 3)
- Jaclyn M. Roller, an agricultural education teacher at Signal Knob Middle in Shenandoah County (Region 4)
- Gerin E. Martin, an early childhood special education teacher at Hutcherson Early Learning Program in Lynchburg (Region 5)
- Matthew T. Newton, a grades 3-5 special education teacher at Fishburn Park Elementaryin Roanoke (Region 6)
- Mark T. Merz, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Oak Point Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
- Kelly S. Jones, a World History and Sociology teacher at Greensville County High in Greensville County (Region 8)
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“These teachers represent a cross section of the educators you will find in a 21st-century Virginia school division,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “All of these educators are dedicated to helping their students overcome challenges and achieve at their highest potential.”
The teachers were selected from among candidates nominated by school divisions in each of the state’s eight superintendents’ regions. The candidates submitted portfolios highlighting their accomplishments, educational philosophies and community activities.
A panel, including classroom teachers, representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community and 2014 Virginia Teacher of the Year and 2014 National Teacher of the Year finalist Melissa A. Porfirio of Fairfax reviewed the portfolios and selected the eight regional teachers of the year. The panel will interview each of the eight teachers next month to select the 2015 Virginia Teacher of the Year. The decision will be announced during an awards ceremony to be held October 10 in Richmond.
The 2015 Virginia Teacher of the Year will be the Commonwealth’s nominee in the National Teacher of the Year Program. The recognition is given by the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the Voya Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teacher of the Year.