Dr. David Ellena, principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle, was named the 2016 Virginia Middle School Association (VMSA) Master in the Middle Educator of the Year. The Master in the Middle Educator of the Year Award recognizes educators who serve in roles other than classroom teachers, who have demonstrated a devotion to working with young adolescents, who are a role model and educational leader and have demonstrated a commitment to best middle-level practices.
Dr. Ellena was recognized for many successful and creative ideas throughout his career, including the creation of a makerspace at Tomahawk Creek Middle and the support of the technology club by incorporating drones and promoting the use of 3D printers. In addition, he has put an important emphasis on community service projects that not only benefit the surrounding community, but also help the students grow. Dr. Ellena has been innovative with his use of social media by hosting a personal blog that connects the parents to the school during the critical teenage years. His enthusiasm and vision for reaching middle school students is helping to facilitate student development throughout the all important middle school years.
“Dr. Ellena has been instrumental in introducing innovative ideas at Tomahawk Creek Middle and in pushing the state to think past existing classroom boundaries,” said Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. James Lane. “Thanks to his vision, students at Tomahawk Creek are combining blended learning, project-based learning and service learning to address real-life issues and develop solutions that lead to better lives for others. He is a shining star in Chesterfield County and leader that others can learn from.”
Dr. Ellena has been in public education for 32 years. He started as a physical education teacher in 1985 and has served as principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle for five years. He is active in the Virginia Association of Secondary Schools Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, having served on the board of directors for both organizations.
“It was an honor to be recognized,” said Dr. Ellena. “More than anything else, this award is truly a statement about the work our teachers and students are doing here at Tomahawk Creek Middle.”
VMSA award recipients were recognized at the annual VMSA Conference on Oct. 21 at James Madison University.