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In The News

NNPS Names Teachers of the Year

(06/06/2018) - Newport News Public Schools Teachers of the Year were honored at a banquet on May 8. The evening also brought the announcement of the elementary, middle, high school and NNPS Teacher of the Year.

Chris RambaliChris Rambali
Division and High School Teacher of the Year, Menchville High School

Chief Master Sergeant Chris Rambali, an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Instructor at Menchville High School, is named the Division-wide and High School Teacher of the Year. Chief Rambali has five years of service in public education.

Chief Rambali strives to "develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community through a rigorous curriculum of Aerospace Science, leadership education and wellness." He instills the values of citizenship, personal responsibility, and accomplishment in his student cadets.

Chief Rambali was born and reared in Guyana, South America. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1981 and enlisted in the Air Force later that year. His decorated military career spanned 30 years in various leadership positions from base level units to Headquarters Command. Chief Rambali also supported numerous contingency operations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Upon retiring from active duty in August 2011, he pursued the AFJROTC instruction position to "educate and train students in citizenship and life skills." Chief Rambali was named the AFJROTC Region 5 Outstanding Instructor of the Year in 2015 and 2017, and was named the 2017 Veterans of Foreign Wars District 1 Citizenship Teacher of the Year.

Chief Rambali holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Touro University Worldwide and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Weather Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.

Jennifer FortunatoJennifer Fortunato
Middle School Teacher of the Year, Crittenden Middle School

Jennifer Fortunato, an eighth-grade civics and economics teacher at Crittenden Middle School, is the Middle School Teacher of the Year. Fortunato has 12 years of teaching experience.

At an early age, Fortunato knew she wanted to be a teacher. She pretended to be a teacher at home using her sister and her friends as students. During role play, Fortunato patterned her teaching style after some of her own teachers and she developed a passion for history.

Fortunato has taught at Crittenden Middle School for six years. She believes that successful teaching and learning connects students to the real world. Fortunato includes hands-on activities to simulate real world actions: her students followed the lawmaking process to establish new class rules and designed their own political parties to simulate U.S. election procedures.

Fortunato believes that good teaching, and in return, real learning, requires finding the right balance of instruction for each class. She strives to include the right blend of teacher-led and student-centered instruction.

Fortunato holds an Associate of Liberal Arts degree from Northern Virginia Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from George Mason University and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Regent University.

Briana FosterBriana Foster
Elementary School Teacher of the Year, An Achievable Dream Academy

Briana Foster, a third-grade teacher at An Achievable Dream Academy, is named the Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Foster has five years of teaching experience.

Foster believes that relationships are at the forefront of engagement, achievement and student success. She works to build relationships with her students and their families to support learning and emphasize its importance. Foster engages her students by going "above and beyond" the required Standards of Learning to ensure her students have relevant, meaningful content that is connected to real-world situations.

Foster first became interested in serving as a classroom teacher while in college. She applied for and was accepted to Teach for America, an organization that recruits college graduates to serve as teachers in economically challenged communities. She taught in South Carolina for two years before accepting a teaching position at An Achievable Dream Academy.


Acting Superintendent Brian Nichols; Elementary School Teacher of the Year Briana Foster; Middle School Teacher of the Year Jennifer Fortunato; and Division and High School Teacher of the Year Chief Master Sergeant Chris Rambali.

 

2018-2019 Teachers of the Year

Consuelo Pyatt Shannon Skiffington Paige Smith

Consuelo Pyatt
Denbigh Early Childhood Center

Consuelo Pyatt has 11 years of experience in education. Ms. Pyatt says she instills a love of learning and a sense of confidence in her young learners through creative and purposeful experiences. She guides her students to become independent, and participate in cooperative learning. Ms. Pyatt strives to create a classroom experience that students love coming to, so they feel comfortable to ask questions and explore.

Shannon Skiffington
Gatewood PEEP

Shannon Skiffington is an early childhood special education teacher with 20 years of experience. Ms. Skiffington sets high expectations for her students. She celebrates with them as they master new skills, whether it's communicating for the first time, zipping their coat, or learning to share. Ms. Skiffington uses a variety of STEM activities each day and modifies them so that each student can participate at their level. Her students enjoy exploring and learning.

Paige Smith
Lee Hall Early Childhood Center

Paige Smith is a pre-school teacher with over one-and-a-half years of experience. Ms. Smith considers it an honor to be her students' first teacher. She sees education as an artist with many canvases. Some students come with paint, and others come with blank canvases. Ms. Smith says her job is to assist them with painting their masterpieces that will one day become who they are as individuals. She has a passion for teaching and learning through movement.

Heather Roberts Theresa St. Ours Amanda Venable

Heather Roberts
Marshall Early Learning Center

Heather Roberts is a pre-school teacher with 10 years of experience in education. Ms. Roberts believes that building relationships with her students and their families elevates achievement. She says this connection gives her students confidence and assurance. Through trust and respect, Ms. Roberts is preparing her young students for successful futures.

Theresa St.Ours
Watkins Early Childhood Center

Theresa St.Ours is a preschool teacher with 4 years of experience. Ms. St.Ours served as a substitute teacher and instructional assistant before becoming a teacher. She advances student learning through inquiry-based instruction. She believes in giving her students the opportunity to explore learning on their own. Ms. St.Ours strives to make learning fun and interactive

Amanda Venable
Carver Elementary School

Amanda Venable is a fifth-grade lead teacher, who has 3 years of teaching experience. Ms. Venable ensures her classroom is a safe environment so students learn from their successes and mistakes. Her students establish their own goals and reflect on them often. Ms. Venable's instruction connects real-life situations and experiences. She says her goal is for her students to develop a love of learning and reading that lasts a lifetime.

Chyna Wilson Stephanie Tisdale Alaina Shorter

Chyna Wilson
B.C. Charles Elementary School

Chyna Wilson is a fourth-grade teacher with 8 years of experience. Ms. Wilson says she relies on student data to help her students' progress. She connects with her families to support student learning at home. She identifies her students' strengths so that she can build upon them to guide their learning.

Stephanie Tisdale
Deer Park Elementary School

Stephanie Tisdale is a third-grade teacher with 17 years of experience. Ms. Tisdale integrates technology into her lessons to allow students to explore, research and find their own answers. Her goal is to inspire them to collaborate using real world experiences.

Alaina Shorter
Discovery STEM Academy

Alaina Shorter is a first-grade teacher with 11 years of education experience. Ms. Shorter says that teaching means teaching the whole child to become a helpful citizen of our world. She believes that children will not be ready to learn until their emotional and physical needs are met. Ms. Shorter uses her students' interests to build math and reading lessons, connecting them to their learning.

Melissa Patterson Colleen Alleyne Keldie Chewning

Melissa Patterson
Dutrow Elementary School

Melissa Patterson is a kindergarten teacher with 16 years of experience. Ms. Patterson ensures her classroom culture is encouraging. She takes the time to learn what each student is interested in, and she uses those interests in her teaching to motivate students. Ms. Patterson says that it is her personal calling to ensure that all of her students realize their full potential. She finds ways to push her students to higher levels.

Colleen Alleyne
Epes Elementary School

Colleen Alleyne is a first-grade teacher with 3 years of experience. Ms. Alleyne uses technology in her daily lessons. She encourages her students to collaborate and share their ideas. To support her English Learners, she offers instruction in English and Spanish. Ms. Alleyne also connects with her students' families through inclusive activities.

Keldie Chewning
General Stanford Elementary School

Keldie Chewning is a second-grade teacher with 4 years of teaching experience. Ms. Chewning says every child comes into the classroom with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Her job is to build upon the strengths, and turn the weaknesses into opportunities. Ms. Chewning includes visual and hands on learning opportunities in her daily lessons to ensure that she reaches every student.

Karen Ciotta Amy Kovac Nolan Rheinish

Karen Ciotta
Greenwood Elementary School

Karen Ciotta is a first-grade teacher with 17 years of teaching experience. Ms. Ciotta strives to provide a learning environment that her students look forward to each day: a safe place of mutual respect where their needs are met. She says giving students daily voice and choice, and being a part of decision-making is crucial to student achievement.

Amy Kovac
Hidenwood Elementary School

Amy Kovac is a reading specialist with 25 years of experience in education. Ms. Kovac endeavors to make reading a daily adventure. She loves sharing books in a variety of ways, from read-a-louds to short excerpts, to pique student interest. Ms. Kovac says it is very rewarding when a student has an "aha" moment for themselves while reading.

Nolan Rheinish
Hilton Elementary School

Nolan Rheinish is a fourth-grade lead teacher with 14 years of experience. Mr. Rheinish teaches Virginia history. He challenges his students to think about history critically, to use the past to make sense of the present, and to get them to understand different perspectives. Mr. Rheinish also teaches his students "mindfulness," leading students through various lessons so they can become aware of their thoughts and emotions before reacting to challenging situations.

Nicholette Amburgey Sarah Hoyer Ashley Froestad

Nicholette Amburgey
Jenkins Elementary School

Nicholette Amburgey is a first-grade teacher with 4 years of experience. Ms. Amburgey says her job is to open students' eyes to the endless possibilities of what their future could be. She says the first step is getting students to envision their future, then set goals. Ms. Amburgey then encourages her students to revisit their goals each day and discuss how their activities impact them.

Sarah Hoyer
Kiln Creek Elementary School

Sarah Hoyer is a special education lead teacher with 11 years of experience. Ms. Hoyer makes learning fun and engaging for her students. Her autistic students practice social action daily. Through Hoyer's club, older students work with younger students to improve social skills and collaboration. Ms. Hoyer is also spearheading an effort to create an inclusive playground for students with disabilities.

Ashley Froestad
Lee Hall Elementary School

Ashley Froestad is a special education teacher with three years of experience. Ms. Froestad seeks ways to empower her students to see their strengths. Her students work together to learn and grow, and celebrate each other's accomplishments. As the Youth Development leader at Lee Hall, she promotes club involvement and cultivates student leadership.

Brenda King Stephanie Johnson Summer Chambers-Harmon

Brenda King
McIntosh Elementary School

Brenda King is a school counselor with 7 years of experience. Ms. King is a relationship builder. She strives to ensure that students have a go-to person for support. She also ensures that her students are involved in community service projects and career activities. Ms. King's goal is to prepare her students to succeed socially, academically and morally.

Stephanie Johnson
Nelson Elementary School

Stephanie Johnson is a fourth-grade teacher with 7 years of experience. Ms. Johnson encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. Over the summer she took pictures of various historical sites in Newport News, and challenged her students to research and determine the location. Her students enjoyed solving the vacation mystery.

Summer Chambers-Harmon
Newsome Park Elementary School

Summer Chambers-Harmon is a second-grade teacher with 12 years of experience. Ms. Chambers-Harmon embraces hands-on learning and project-based learning to engage students. She says her role is to assist each student to develop their own potential and learning style. She also serves as a new teacher coordinator.

Olivia Anderson Mary McBurnette Theresa Garrison

Olivia Anderson
Palmer Elementary School

Olivia Anderson is a third-grade teacher with 4 years of experience. Ms. Anderson says her goal is to make sure her students are more well-rounded at the end of the school year. Ms. Anderson says student choice is key. She encourages students to guide their own learning and has even created a flexible seating "smart spot" for undistracted studying.

Mary McBurnette
Richneck Elementary School

Mary McBurnette is a special education lead teacher with 23 years of experience. Ms. McBurnette is ensuring that her students become more independent learners by equipping them with online tools and other resources. She is also a champion of service learning. Ms. McBurnette's students collected and donated items for homeless families, and raised money for the SPCA.

Theresa Garrison
Riverside Elementary School

Theresa Garrison is a Reading Interventionist with 19 years of experience. Ms. Garrison says her mission is to give her students a sense of achievement, and self-confidence. She works to equip her students with the tools and skills they need to become successful readers and problem-solvers in and outside of the classroom.

Rachel Swords Kelly Carasquero Crystal Bonser

Rachel Swords
Sanford Elementary School

Rachel Swords is a Reading Interventionist with 20 years of experience. Ms. Swords is a National Board Certified teacher. She says literacy is the center of life and is the gate-keeper for all other learning. Ms. Swords uses a variety of strategies to strengthen students' reading skills. She has published several articles and two books on effective strategies for teaching students to read, write and speak standard English.

Kelly Carasquero
Saunders Elementary School

Kelly Carasquero is a fifth-grade teacher with 17 years of experience. Ms. Carasquero challenges every student who enters her classroom. She makes time to know each student's learning style so that they can develop to the best of their ability. She aspires to be the teacher her students will always remember.

Crystal Bonser
Sedgefield Elementary School

Crystal Bonser teaches fourth-grade and has 6 years of experience. Ms. Bonser seeks to identify the individual needs of her students. She says her goal as an educator is to understand the unique learning style of each student and implement a learning plan based on their needs.

Michelle Price Eric Johnson Veronica Brown

Michelle Price
Yates Elementary School

Michelle Price is a kindergarten teacher with 31 years of experience. Ms. Price says meaningful and caring relationships are an integral part of her interactions with students and families. She has high expectations; positive choices are encouraged and expected. Ms. Price's young learners are becoming independent thinkers and lifelong learners.

Eric Johnson
Dozier Middle School

Eric Johnson is an 8th grade transition to algebra teacher with five years of experience. Mr. Johnson shows his students that math is everywhere and a part of everything. He challenges his students to find one thing that doesn't involve math. He demonstrates how every math lesson can be used in the real world. Mr. Johnson prides himself on connecting math to everyday concepts to engage students.

Veronica Brown
Gildersleeve Middle School

Veronica Brown teaches transition to algebra and algebra I. She has 26 years of experience. Ms. Brown's goal is not only to teach math, but to guide, support, and inspire her students to believe in themselves, knowing that they too can do great things. She has transformed her math classroom to include reading. Her students begin first period with 10 minutes of reading and discussion, to connect with one another.

Ashley Coleman Demetrius Washington Marsha Atwell-Brown

Ashley Coleman
Hines Middle School

Ashley Coleman is a 6th grade lead math teacher with 7 years of experience. Ms. Coleman creates fun activities to encourage her students to think outside of the box. She says that when students are engaged in the lesson, they retain the information better. Ms. Coleman strives to make math relatable to everyday life, like using geometry to determine how much carpet to buy, and she endeavors to create a classroom where her students learn, grow and have fun.

Demetrius Washington
Huntington Middle School

Demetrius Washington is a 7th grade algebra teacher with 20 years of teaching experience. Mr. Washington sets high expectations for all of his students. He makes math come alive by connecting math to real world concepts. He finds it fulfilling when students learn a new concept and share their learning with others. Mr. Washington's ultimate goal is for his students to leave middle school with an appreciation of math.

Marsha Atwell-Brown
Passage Middle School

Marsha Atwell-Brown is a 6th grade special education teacher with 15 years of experience. Ms. Atwell-Brown says her goal is to increase her student's ability level so that they may transition to high school and beyond successfully. As a collaborative English and math teacher, she says it's crucial to create a classroom environment which supports critical thinking. Ms. Atwell-Brown also encourages motivation through challenging lessons and independent student assignments.

Grace Rivera LaTonia Kelley Terry Fenner, Jr.

Grace Rivera
Booker T. Washington Middle School

Grace Rivera is a 6th grade English teacher with 14 years of experience. Ms. Rivera says that teaching gives her the opportunity to share her love of the English language while giving her students the tools they need to interact effectively with the world around them. Her students have the opportunity to explore larger issues while they practice reading, analyzing and writing. Ms. Rivera also serves as a new teacher mentor.

LaTonia Kelley
An Achievable Dream Middle and High School

LaTonia Kelley teaches geometry, trigonometry and elementary functions. She has 4 years of experience in education. Ms. Kelley helps students overcome their fear of math and increase their confidence. To keep her geometry students engaged, she remixed some of the students' favorite songs to help them remember formulas. Ms. Kelley's students now use her rap songs to help other students learn and grow.

Terry Fenner, Jr.
Denbigh High School

Terry Fenner Jr. teaches honors world geography, and Virginia and US government. He has 14 years of experience. Mr. Fenner says his role as an educator is to help students find their greatness. He ensures that learning is relevant and fun. To help government come alive in his class, Mr. Fenner stages hip hop rap battles using the Preamble of the Constitution, and organizes floor debates about current events.

Iris Harris-Williams Scott Krause Donzaleigh Douglas

Iris Harris-Williams
Enterprise Academy

Iris Harris-Williams teaches economics and personal finance, business law, and principles of business and marketing. She has 6 years of experience. Ms. Harris-Williams is a strong supporter of students. She identifies their strengths, and collaborates with them to develop learning targets. Through technology, she makes classroom learning engaging.

Scott Krause
Heritage High School

Scott Krause teaches 12th grade advanced placement English and STEMinar. He has 21 years of experience in education. Mr. Krause gives his students the opportunity to direct their learning. By giving students the choice to present their work in an "arts and entertainment" format or through collaboration. Mr. Krause strives to empower his students, and encourage a love of English and literature.

Donzaleigh Douglas
Warwick High School

Donzaleigh Douglas is the counseling director. She has 26 years of education experience. Ms. Douglas prepares and empowers students for greatness. She connects students and families to information about college funding and scholarships, volunteer and service opportunities, and citizenship programs. Ms. Douglas says learning is for life, and as such, is never ending.

Marta CintrĂ³n    

Marta Cintròn
Woodside High School

Marta Cintròn teaches Advanced Placement Environmental Science and zoology. She has 12 years of teaching experience. Ms. Cintròn says that she shares more than just the subject that she teaches, she shares her passion for life. Ms. Cintròn imparts more than just science in her classroom, she is preparing lifelong learners who think critically.