Surprise and excitement were among the emotions running through Chesterfield County schools today when three teachers learned they are the school division’s top Teachers of the Year. School and county leaders brought flowers, banners, cakes and balloons as they announced the awards:
● Tara Brunyansky is Chesterfield’s Teacher of the Year, as well as Chesterfield’s High School 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 a 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.
● Chuck Rhode is Chesterfield’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year. He teaches music at Watkins Elementary. Rhode has taught in Chesterfield County Public Schools since 1985; he began at Chalkley Elementary, then moved in 1992 to Watkins Elementary. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grand Canyon University and a master of music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
● Debbie Bailey is Chesterfield’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. She teaches civics and economics at Carver Middle. After graduating from Thomas Dale High School, Bailey earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, then returned to Thomas Dale as a teacher in 1984. The next year, she moved to Chester Middle where she taught until joining the Carver Middle faculty in 2010.
In letters to the Teachers of the Year, Superintendent Marcus Newsome wrote, “Teaching is a collaborative profession — consulting with colleagues, sharing ideas with administrators and partnering with parents. Teaching and teamwork have more in common than just the first three letters of each word. But in every school and at every level, certain teachers stand out as being among the best in our profession. These teachers demonstrate care and compassion, stress the importance of rigor and relationships and do the extra things necessary to help move our students toward success.”
Annually, every Chesterfield County school selects a Teacher of the Year. Chesterfield County Public Schools selects from those honorees an Elementary School Teacher of the Year, a Middle
School Teacher of the Year and a High School Teacher of the Year, then chooses the countywide Teacher of the Year from those three honorees. The next step is submitting Brunyansky’s nomination to the Virginia Department of Education, which will select eight regional Teachers of the Year from across the state, then will choose the Virginia Teacher of the Year from the eight regional winners.
Here are the 2015 Teachers of the Year from Chesterfield County Public Schools:
Tara Brunyansky is Chesterfield’s Teacher of the Year, Chesterfield’s High School Teacher of the Year and James River High’s Teacher of the Year.