Tara Brunyansky thought the assembly she and her students were attending was to celebrate James River High School’s academic achievements on Standards of Learning tests. That was only partly true.
The main reason for today’s assembly at James River High was to surprise Brunyansky with the news that she has been chosen as the top educator from approximately 12,000 teachers in central Virginia. State, school and county leaders were on hand with cake, flowers, balloons and a banner proclaiming Brunyansky’s latest accomplishment: Virginia’s Region 1 Teacher of the Year.
Among the leaders who participated in the surprise announcement at James River High were Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples and Chesterfield Superintendent Marcus Newsome.
Being named regional Teacher of the Year means that Brunyansky is in the running to become statewide Teacher of the Year. The Virginia Department of Education annually selects eight regional Teachers of the Year by reviewing nominations submitted from more than 100 local school systems. This fall, a panel of representatives from professional groups and educational associations will interview the eight regional winners to select the 2015 Virginia Teacher of the Year.
Brunyansky teaches chemistry and forensic chemistry at James River High. She has taught in Chesterfield County Public Schools since 1996; she began her career at Thomas Dale High, then moved in 2006 to James River High. Brunyansky earned her bachelor’s degree from Brock University, a master’s degree in secondary education from Canisius College and a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences/forensic drug chemistry from the University of Florida.
Brunyansky is the 12th Chesterfield County teacher to be named Region 1 Teacher of the Year. In addition to Chesterfield County, Region 1 of Virginia encompasses Charles City County, Dinwiddie County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, New Kent County, Powhatan County, Prince George County, Surry County, Sussex County and the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell.