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Virginia Journal of Education

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Association Honors Outstanding Educators

VEA named winners of the following awards at the annual convention, held this year in Hampton in April:

Friend of Education Award. Gary L. Jones, a former member of the Virginia Board of Education, is the 2009 recipient of the Association’s highest honor. First appointed to the Board by Governor Mark Warner in 2001, Jones served for eight years.

“As chairman of the Board’s Committee on the Standards of Quality, Dr. Jones worked tirelessly with educators statewide to define and provide the essential elements of quality education in Virginia,” says VEA President Kitty Boitnott.

Jones led the Board’s efforts to strengthen state standards by funding technology positions, elementary resource teachers, and planning time for secondary teachers, and promoting efforts in prevention, intervention and remediation. He later fought, unsuccessfully, in the General Assembly for additional reading specialists, speech pathologists, math specialists, test coordinators, and principals and assistant principals.

Prior to his service on the state level, Jones served as chair of the Fairfax County School Board, Acting Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration, and Undersecretary of Education from 1982-85.

“Dr. Jones was the right person for public education at the right time,” says Boitnott. “He will be sorely missed on the Virginia Board of Education. Our schools are better for his efforts, and he is deserving of our deepest and most sincere thanks.”

Award for Teaching Excellence. Steve Rapp, an astronomy, engineering, physics and robotics instructor at the A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School in Abingdon, is this year’s honoree. Known for his innovative, hands-on science activities, Rapp has long been recognized for his outstanding work in the classroom, receiving a U.S. Department of Education American Star of Teaching Award in 2007 and being named Virginia’s Technology Educator of the Year in 2002 and 2004.

He has taught at Holton since its 1998 inception and today does the bulk of his teaching online, to students scattered throughout southwestern Virginia. After discovering an online resource which allowed his students to download images from a telescope in South America, his Rapp’s classes discovered over 150 new asteroids, which were later recorded at the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Mary Hatwood Futrell Award for Distinguished Leadership in Education. Petersburg Mayor Annie M. Mickens, a longtime math teacher and community leader in the city, received this award for 2009. Mickens established an in-school tutoring program, using master’s degree students from Virginia State University; coordinated a summer enrichment program sponsored by VSU, DuPont and Dominion Power; helped bring The Algebra Project to Petersburg schools; and advocated for the adoption of the SAVY (Supported Alternatives for our Valued Youth) program in the city.

Recently re-elected, Mickens has also, in the past, been named Petersburg’s Citizen of the Year and Educator of the Year.

Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year. As an instructional assistant in a special education classroom for hearing impaired first graders at Fairfax County’s Camelot Center, Janet Valent has a host of responsibilities. She provides individual and group instruction, troubleshoots hearing equipment, and helps create instructional materials, in addition to providing supervision in the cafeteria and bus area, and assisting the art teacher.

Valent, who holds a master’s degree in educational psychology, also launched an environmental awareness club for students in grades 4-6 called The Green Team, and oversees many PTA fundraising activities.

“Janet makes a huge impact on both Camelot Center and Camelot Elementary School,” says Donna Grossman, principal of Camelot Center. “I know that whatever she undertakes will be done with perfection. One thing everyone on the staff agrees with is that Janet makes this school a better place for everyone.”

“Janet is a model professional who is always willing to lend a hand,” says Boitnott. “Her commitment to children, professionalism and collaboration give all ESPs a better name.”



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