ACPS Teacher of the Year 2019-20 Nominees

We wish all our finalists the best of luck as they compete for our annual Teacher of the Year crown. Meet four of the 18 finalists and read what teaching means to them.

LaGina Gross – T.C. Williams High School Minnie Howard Campus, librarian

LaGina Gross

LaGina Gross

“As a school librarian, teaching means making the school library an inviting classroom that enables curiosity and engages new knowledge. Teaching means providing a welcoming environment for students to think, create, explore and engage. Teaching means that I will maintain a collection that is diverse and accessible to ALL students in digital, audible and print formats. Most importantly, teaching means that I am passionate about my work to create successful citizens and lifelong readers.”

Melanie Needels – Mount Vernon Community School, second grade teacher

Melanie Needels

Melanie Needels

“Being a teacher has been my dream since I was a kid playing school in my basement. Now I’m living the dream. I get to go to work and make learning fun. I get to read stories, talk about history, watch kids understand something new, listen to (and try to answer) interesting questions, dress up in costumes and sing songs and most importantly make a difference to the lives of kids. I’m reminded of the impact I have had on them when Mount Vernon alumni come back and share memories of their learning experiences from my class.”

Nicole Kertyzak – Matthew Maury Elementary School, special education teacher 

Nicole Kertyzak

Nicole Kertyzak

“To me, teaching is all about helping students reach their fullest potential, developing the whole child, and inspiring life-long learners. I believe in focusing, not only on student’s academic growth and successes, but also on behavior and social-emotional skills. I want students to be excited in their learning and view school as a safe place to learn, grow, and pursue their dreams. Teaching to me means making a difference for kids.”

Mary Breslin – George Washington Middle School, life science teacher

Mary Breslin

Mary Breslin

“To me, teaching means supporting students in understanding how to improve the health and sustainability of their community. Sparking curiosity, fostering teamwork and guiding students to support theories through scientific writing gives our students this ability. My two greatest passions as a teacher are empowering kids to use their youth voice on issues that matter to them and building relationships with students that need them most. Teaching is loving your community!”

More finalists coming next week!

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ACPS, Awards, George Washington, Maury, Minnie Howard, Mount Vernon