What do Teachers of the Year say about their jobs?

Chesterfield County will celebrate outstanding educators on Oct. 29

Chesterfield County Public Schools asked its Teachers of the Year, “What do you enjoy most about your job?” Here are a few of their responses:


Melanie Brown of Hening Elementary

I believe I am doing what I was born to do, and I am making a difference. I care about my students unconditionally, and the relationships I establish with my students I carry close to my heart.


Karen Taylor of Jacobs Road Elementary

My students need someone to find out what they can do, instead of what they can’t do. Although I think I am challenging my students to be their best, they are the ones challenging me to be my best.


Crystal Richardson of Ecoff Elementary

I love seeing how excited my students get about learning, and I love the impact I have on their lives! … A quote that I try to live by each day as an educator is this one from Lady Bird Johnson: “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”


Matt Porter of Tomahawk Creek Middle

Being a teacher allows me to experience the joy that students display when they not only succeed academically but also personally. There is tremendous enjoyment in watching a student master a new concept or overcome a personal challenge.


Brianne Gunn of Falling Creek Middle(Chesterfield’s Middle School Teacher of the Year)

I love listening to my students ask questions that reveal their true inquisitive nature and desire to understand our world. I find great joy in seeing them develop connections and relationships within the community. … I revel in their discoveries of personal growth.


Christopher Averill of Cosby High(Virginia’s Region 1 Teacher of the Year and Chesterfield’s Teacher of the Year)

The energy that emanates from the young adults inspires me daily.

Chesterfield County Public Schools will honor its 2016 Teachers of the Year from elementary, middle and high schools at a Gold Star Gala sponsored by the Chesterfield Education Foundation at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Career and Technical Center @ Hull, Each spring, every Chesterfield County school selects a Teacher of the Year for the next school 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 a countywide Teacher of the Year from those honorees:

  • Cosby High history teacher Christopher Averill is Chesterfield’s Teacher of the Year, as well as Chesterfield’s High School Teacher of the Year. Also, the Virginia Department of Education in mid-September selected Averill as Virginia’s Region 1 Teacher of the Year. He began his career as a history teacher in 1989 at Clover Hill High; since 2006 he has taught history and served as the social studies department chair at Cosby High. Averill earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from James Madison University.
  • Brianne Gunn is Chesterfield’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. She teaches sixth-grade science at Falling Creek Middle. Gunn joined Chesterfield County Public Schools in 2011 in her current position. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Also, Chesterfield County Public Schools annually recognizes outstanding teachers who are just beginning their careers. Winners of the Beginning Teacher of the Year Awards are

  • Katelyn Bell of Alberta Smith Elementary
  • Jon Ferguson of Providence Middle
  • Pamela Hooper of Bird High

Here are the 2016 Teachers of the Year from Chesterfield County Public Schools:

Elementary schoolsBellwood — Brandi GuessBensley — Caitlin Reynal

Beulah — Danielle Luce

Bon Air — Katherine Gholson

Chalkley — Nancy Graham

Marguerite Christian — La-Kisha Webb

Clover Hill — Kristel French

Crenshaw — Shelley Neal

Crestwood — Nora Tetllow

Curtis — Sandra Koch

Davis — Amy Zajick

Ecoff — Crystal Richardson

Enon — Lauren Merlo

Ettrick — Maria MacLaughlin

Evergreen — Beth Sawyer

Falling Creek — Ramona Carper

Gates — Sheila Dunn

Gordon — Lenora Dean

Grange Hall — Shelley Burns

Greenfield — Mandy Gray

Harrowgate — Jennifer Deckert

Hening — Melanie Brown

Hopkins — Elisabeth Burba

Jacobs Road — Karen Taylor

Matoaca — Jacqueline Ferguson

Providence — Laura Ipock

Reams Road — Katie Bailey

Salem Church — Deirdre Mercado

Elizabeth Scott — Cindy Smith

Alberta Smith — Mary Kuzemchak

Spring Run — Ian Pifer

Swift Creek — Diane Connell

Watkins — Beth Losego

Bettie Weaver — Teresa Frick

Wells — Dana Loy-Anderson

Winterpock — Beth Harrell

Woolridge — Stephanie Cochrane

Middle schoolsBailey Bridge — Deborah LarkinCarver — Anna Epps

Elizabeth Davis — Karen Johnson

Falling Creek — Brianne Gunn

Manchester — Susan Headley

Midlothian — Mandy Chilcote

Providence — Michelle Meyer-Gray

Robious — Janet Garland

Salem Church — Heather Murfee

Swift Creek — Christopher Calfee

Tomahawk Creek — Matt Porter

High schoolsBird — Helmut Thielsch

Carver College and Career Academy — Lydie Alapini-Sakponou

Career and Technical Center @ Courthouse — David Holicky

Career and Technical Center @ Hull —
Sarah Jurewicz

Clover Hill — Heather Curran

Cosby — Christopher Averill

Thomas Dale — Richard Anthony

James River — Kelly Bisogno

Juvenile Detention Center — Shirl Comer

Manchester — Cary Nothnagel

Matoaca — Randall Rhyne

Meadowbrook — Alicen Brown

Midlothian — Margaret Hendricks

Monacan — Monica Van Arsdale

New teachersBeginning Teacher of the Year Awards recognize the accomplishments of brand-new educators.

Elementary School Beginning Teacher of the Year — Katelyn Bell of Alberta Smith Elementary

Middle School Beginning Teacher of the Year — Jon Ferguson of Providence Middle

High School Beginning Teacher of the Year — Pamela Hooper of Bird High