Governor McAuliffe today announced the first recipients of the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education. This new initiative recognizes outstanding educators and leaders, schools, divisions, and community partners across five categories: closing the achievement gap, community partnerships and collaboration, innovation in education, preparing students for the new Virginia economy; and supporting school readiness. Out of more than 120 nominations, 13 were selected for recognition and honored at the Executive Mansion last night.
“Over the last four years, my administration has worked hard to reduce the achievement gap, improve accountability, and expand opportunities for career exposure and experiential learning in our public schools. These individuals, schools, divisions and partners are at the forefront of that effort, and I applaud their willingness to think outside the box and boldly try new things,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Excellent education is the key to unlocking the potential in our children, our commonwealth, and the new Virginia economy.”
“Every day, Virginia’s education professionals make incredible contributions to our communities and students,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “This new award is one small way we can recognize their commitment to providing their students with everything they need to succeed in school and in life.”
The award categories and recipients are as follows:
Closing the Achievement Gap
- Principal Karen Nelson
As principal of Perrymont Elementary School, Ms. Nelson has significantly improved SOL scores and narrowed the achievement gap.
- Weems Elementary School
Under the leadership of Principal Dave Rupert, Weems Elementary staff has improved student achievement through the school’s unique Talents and Gifts program.
Community Partnerships and Collaboration
- Lord Fairfax Community College
The college’s Worlds of Work! interactive career expo is an exemplary public-private partnership that engages students in career readiness activities.
- Fauquier County Public Schools
The school district has collaborated with the Fauquier Education in Excellence Foundation and the Lord Fairfax Community College – Fauquier Campus to connect students and parents to the opportunities available at Lord Fairfax Community College.
Innovation in Education
- Harrisonburg School Nutrition Program
The School Nutrition Program team expanded the district’s summer meal program by converting a bookmobile into a mobile cafe.
- Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon
As superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, Dr. Shannon has implemented a number of innovative initiatives, including Code to the Future programming for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
- Mosaic Program, Oakridge Elementary School
As a cross-curricular exemplary project, Mosaic celebrates diversity promotes a deeper learning of Virginia’s content standards and fosters a sense of community throughout Oakridge.
- New Horizons Regional Education Center – Mechatronics Program
The New Horizons Regional Education Center Mechatronics Program provides training to students to meet the workforce need for manufacturing technicians.
Preparing Students for the New Virginia Economy
- Valley Health System
In partnership with six school divisions and other community agencies, Valley Health System has promoted health sciences opportunities and is fostering a health sciences pipeline within the region.
- Arlington Public Schools Department of Information Services
Arlington Student Center’s Cyber Sandbox provides tools and resources to help students advance their cybersecurity knowledge.
- STEM Trifecta, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
The STEM Trifecta team has created a platform for all students to join in three types of technical competition: The Robotics Challenge; The Maker Expo; and The Cybersecurity & Cyber Innovation Challenge.
- United Way of Southwest Virginia
United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Ignite Program is a partnership between school divisions and regional partners that provides career guidance and work-based learning opportunities to middle and high school students.
Supporting School Readiness
- Elon Rhodes Early Learning Center
Sharon Shuttle, Early Learning Services Coordinator, and Anita Warner, Family and Diversity Specialist, have worked to provide early learning opportunities for at-risk three- and four-year-olds in Harrisonburg City Public Schools.