Five Chesterfield educators receive 2020 R.E.B Awards for Teaching Excellence

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Immersing one’s self deeper in the Spanish-speaking region of the southern hemisphere in order to better relate to students and the course being taught. Tracing the footsteps of a grandfather who served in the National Guard in order to make history more relevant for students. Traveling through Europe to learn more about the Holocaust so that history can come alive in the classroom.

These are some of the rewards that await five Chesterfield County teachers, who today were named 2020

R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence winners by the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the R.E.B. Foundation. These Chesterfield County teachers will receive almost $56,000 in professional development grants. Approximately 15 outstanding public school teachers from across the region were selected as honorees this week.

“We appreciate community partners such as The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the

R.E.B. Foundation for their continued support of our exceptional teachers,” said School Board Chair Debbie Bailey, a retired school teacher and a former R.E.B. Award winner. “The immersive learning that our teachers experience through these grants broadens their professional knowledge and helps them create more relevant and authentic learning experiences for their students.”

The awards program, a partnership between The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the

R.E.B. Foundation, recognizes excellence in public education by awarding cash grants to outstanding public school teachers from the city of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover, and the Department of Correctional Education.

“Not only do these grants reward our extraordinary teachers for their exceptional work, but they also create even more remarkable learning environments within our classrooms,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said. “We are so appreciative of the supportive parents, colleagues and community partners who nominated these teachers because they saw the dedication and passion each of them have for engaging and immersing their students in learning.

These Chesterfield County teachers are 2020 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence Award winners:

Brett Chonko, Clover Hill High School

$12,000

Mr. Chonko will improve his knowledge and proficiency of the Spanish language by visiting regions of Argentina and Caribbean that feature difficult, distinct Spanish dialects. He is looking forward to sharing his personal experiences with Hispanic culture with his students so that they fall in love with the study of Spanish and are inspired to continue their language-learning journey for the rest of their life.

Keenan Entsminger, James River High School

$12,000

Mr. Entsminger will trace the footsteps of the 246th Coastal Artillery Unit from the mountains of Virginia to the Islands of the Pacific. He is excited to make history relevant and bring it to life for his students by helping them experience it through his journey rather than by simply teaching about it.

Alexander Godschalk, Old Hundred Elementary School

$11,300

Mr. Godschalk will explore early forms of theatre by studying Commedia dell’arte and mask-making in Florence, Italy, and by engaging in Shakespearean theatre in both England and Virginia. He wants to encourage and model life-long learning for his students while making learning as exciting as possible through real-world experiences.

Meredith Jordan, Manchester Middle School

$12,000

Ms. Jordan will engage in diverse school community populations in Central and South America to help develop multicultural perspectives in the classroom. She is excited to research and experience different cultures in order to help her students better connect learning to their lives.

Pamela Rockenbach Plahs, Swift Creek Middle School

$8,300

Ms. Rockenbach Plahs will travel to historic sites in Europe to gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and to explore the courageous decisions the “Righteous Among the Nations” made to help rescue Jews. She is excited to create innovative ways to make history come alive in her classroom through this journey.

Additionally, six Chesterfield County Public Schools teachers were recognized as finalists and received a

$750 unrestricted cash grant in recognition of their achievements in the classroom:

  • Barbara Bingham – Clover Hill High School
  • Lynnee Henry – Crenshaw Elementary School
  • Pamela Hooper – L.C. Bird High School
  • Laura Kaplan – L.C. Bird High School
  • Jessica Rogers – L.C. Bird High School
  • Patrick Wells – L.C. Bird High School

About the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence

The awards program, which is a partnership between the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the R.E.B. Foundation, recognizes excellence in public education by awarding cash grants to outstanding public school teachers from the City of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover, and the Department of Correctional Education. Since its inception in 1988, the program has awarded nearly $4 million to more than 800 public school instructors as recognition for their outstanding classroom performance.


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