Meet the Teachers Nominated for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award

This week and next week we are introducing you to the teachers who were nominated for The Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award leading up to the announcement of the winner in early March.

Parents, students and colleagues nominated teachers and each ACPS school principal then chose one nominated teacher from their school to move on to the ACPS finalists round.

Last year, ACPS was delighted to name Molly Frietag, T.C. Williams AP World History Teacher, as our ACPS Teacher of the Year Awardee.

Please be sure to congratulate these special teachers when you see them!

Wanda Allen Lyles-Crouch Teacher of the YearWanda Allen
Kindergarten Teacher
Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy

Allen has been a teacher with ACPS for 23 years, the last 17 of which have been at Lyles-Crouch. An integral part of the Lyles-Crouch community, Allen has served as the kindergarten team leader, lead school mentor, leadership team liaison and division-wide kindergarten-prep coordinator.

Ms. Allen readily shares her expertise, resources and physical presence wherever she is needed in the school and throughout the division. She creates a class where each student feels safe and secure, where high expectations are the norm, where failure is not an option and where ‘can’t’ is not acceptable,” said Principal Patricia Zissios.

Reka Barton Mount Vernon Teacher of the YearReka Barton
English Partner Teacher Dual Language Program
Grades 2 and 3 

Mount Vernon Community School

A product of Alexandria City Public Schools, Barton returned to her roots to continue her teaching career and has been teaching at Mount Vernon for the past four years. Barton has been trained in bilingual literacy, the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop and presents at conferences on bilingual education. She serves as a Reading Lead Educator and collaborates with the literacy and Spanish literacy coaches to provide turn-key professional development for staff. She is also an active member of the Instructional Council at Mount Vernon, is an advocate for the Young Scholars program and leads an after school sewing club that she started at the school.

She is one of the most effective and enthusiastic teachers I have ever observed. With her students, she instills joy and a love of learning in two languages. She skillfully plans, assesses and responds to the diverse needs of children at varying levels of English proficiency and cultural backgrounds. She has also taken the leadership to collaboratively plan with her Spanish partner teacher and her grade-level team as they undertake the complex process of facilitating learning in two languages,” said Dual Language Program Coordinator Barbara Acosta.

Freda Brew Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center Teacher of the YearFreda Brew
Math Teacher
Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (NVJDC)

Brew began her teaching career in a very low-income community in Ghana West Africa and embraced the roles of mentor and tutor, fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a teacher. She was one of only six female students in her class in the Kwam Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where she earned her bachelors degree. After earning credentials that would enable her to teach in Virginia, she has been with ACPS at the NVJDC since 2013.

We are very fortunate to have Freda on our faculty. Ms. Brew has a superb reputation as a teacher and a reliable colleague. She possesses all of the qualities of an excellent educator. Freda executes her work with superior professionalism and demonstrates sincere compassion for her students,” said Principal Jeanette Allen.

Christie Goodman William Ramsay Teacher of the YearChristine Goodman
Third Grade Teacher
William Ramsay Elementary School

Goodman knew early in life that she wanted to be a teacher. Despite pulls in other directions along the way, her heart led her back to teaching. Goodman joined ACPS four years ago as a long-term substitute teacher at Ramsay and went on to become a full-time teacher and has grown her leadership skills by participating in the Literacy Cadre, Writing Teacher Leader, Student Council, Teacher Mentor, TAG Cohort, Beyond Learning Disability Cohort and Teacher Leadership Program.

Ms. Goodman is a patient, nurturing and consistent educator that holds her students accountable for their learning and celebrates their success. She always takes her students’ diverse backgrounds, readiness levels and experience into account when planning her instruction and never allows previous academic experience to stand in the way of their achievement in the classroom,” said Principal Michael Routhouska.

Martha Grutza Samuel Tucker Teacher of the YearMartha Grutza
Physical Education Teacher
Samuel Tucker Elementary School

With Tucker since 2007, Grutza has elevated the status of health and physical education through the implementation of a rigorous, standards-based curriculum. PE is not an “extra” at Tucker – it is taught, assessed and celebrated as critically as core content. She has also been an exemplary leader at Tucker helping to shape the school culture. Grutza serves on Tucker’s Leadership Team, is an Encore Team Lead, coaches Tucker Runners on Track (TROT), is the PTA secretary, plays a key role in writing family life curriculum and she contributes to Safe Routes to School Grant efforts. She also initiated a wildly popular after school running program and its culminating event – our Annual Tucker 5K.

Ms. Grutza is a driving force behind the can-do spirit that makes Tucker a special place to learn and work. Martha has initiated many school and community-wide programs which have enhanced the total school program for hundreds of kids during her decade of service here,” said Principal Rene Paschal.

Laura Koss
Music Teacher
Matthew Maury Elementary School

Koss has been a music teacher with ACPS for the past 10 years, initially at Jefferson-Houston, then at James K. Polk, and now Maury Elementary. Her talents as a music educator are applauded both within the school and in the community, where she works in concert with community organizations to build and enhance her music program. She is known for her dedication to music education and her drive to continually learn more and apply what she learns with her students. In addition to teaching music, she leads the PBIS committee and the school leadership committee.

She knows how to hone in on a student’s strengths, address their weaknesses and she gets to make music every day. Her students know that music is a place where they can explore, create and be fully engage and challenged, no matter what their proficiency level is when they enter her class. They know the thrill of working on a piece of music and bringing it to life through practice and performance. Ms. Koss provides an environment where all students feel empowered and supported to grow,” said Principal Lucretia Jackson.

Heather Rosner George Mason Teacher of the YearHeather Rosner
Music Teacher
George Mason Elementary School

Rosner has been with ACPS since 2010 and has taught music at Cora Kelly, Mount Vernon and Jefferson-Houston before settling in at George Mason Elementary School. Her “contagious energy” is credited with attracting even the most difficult to reach students. By making music accessible to everyone, she has grown the music department to 160 students with one hundred percent participation of students in grades four and five.

The music program is an elective for students in fourth and fifth grade, so the fact that all choose to participate speaks to the amazing passion and extraordinary qualities Ms. Rosner has as a teacher. Kids want to practice their instruments because she makes it such fun.  She connects the kids to the music and encourages them to do their best in fun and engaging ways, not just in her classroom, but in all of their classrooms,” said Joy Cameron, parent of a fourth grade student.

Dr Beverly Vick Douglas MacArthur Teacher of the YearDr. Beverly Vick
First Grade Teacher
Douglas MacArthur Elementary School

Dr. Vick has been with ACPS for 21 years. She came to MacArthur in 2006 by way of Jefferson-Houston and Patrick Henry Elementary Schools. Dr. Vick has served on many leadership teams, including curriculum development, shared decision-making and faculty councils. She has demonstrated her commitment to the community through her involvement with the Sunshine Team, which builds community in the school and supports colleagues in times of trouble; the Giving Tree program she runs each year to collect new hats, gloves, coats and boots for local homeless shelters; her work with the Boys-to-Men mentoring group; and her pride and joy, the American Girl Literacy Club, which focuses on building self-esteem, friendships and resiliency.

Dr. Vick understands the individual needs of students, encourages their talents and fosters their self-esteem. Within her classroom, she differentiates her instruction to meet the diverse needs of her students. She connects with each student’s parent to further her understanding of each child. She has courageous conversation with colleagues related to cultural competency and racial awareness impacting how we all interact with students and their families. She supports children’ social, emotional and academic development, regularly integrating the arts as a means for students to develop other parts of themselves,” said Principal Rae Covey.

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