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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

School Board Recognitions
August 16, 2016

6. Student, Employee and Public Awards and Recognitions
6A. Virginia Association for the Gifted Outstanding Student Winner

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Our first honoree is the 2016 recipient of the Virginia Association for the Gifted Outstanding Student Award. Please join the School Board in welcoming Andrew Strassberger, a rising seventh-grade student at Old Donation School.

Candidates for this award had to demonstrate an activity or interest area that fulfilled a need or solved a problem; had an impact; and affected the nominee’s future goals. Andrew has not only distinguished himself academically and participates in many school activities, his model design of a garden for the new school currently under construction was ultimately used by the contracted engineers. Andrew describes it best: “This involved researching different problems and solutions which helped engineers build the garden and combine all ideas to fit the standards.” For Andrew, it expanded his career choices to include landscape architecture, archeology, journalism or writing and science careers.

Well done, Andrew and congratulations as Virginia’s 2016 Outstanding Gifted Student!

6B. World of 7 Billion National Winners
Next, the School Board is pleased to welcome four students who won national honors for their proposals to address global challenges. Please join me in welcoming Plaza Middle School eighth-grade students Samantha Guerrier, Reese Thornton, Leilani Hyatt and Kayla MacPherson.

Participating in the World of 7 Billion nationwide contest, students were asked to research and create a 60-second video that highlights one of three global challenges that affect the world’s population. Samantha and Reese competed in the water scarcity category and won second place as a team for their video called “The More, the Less.” Their video addresses trash that pollutes the world’s oceans and offers recycling and oyster—yes, oyster—solutions since oysters are natural water purifiers. As the video states, “The More help, the Less pollution.”

Meanwhile, Leilani and Kayla also won second place. They won in the Public Health category for their “One Small Step” video highlighting how hygiene and sanitation education can help with preventable diseases. As the video states, it’s one small step for sanitation but one large step for making the world a better place.

Well said. Congratulations and thank you for making a difference.

6C. Congressional Art Champion
Our next honoree is Kinley Johnson, recently-graduated senior from Salem High School.

In May, Kinley competed in the Congressional Institute’s nationwide high school visual arts competition. Students submitted entries to their local representative’s office and local artists select the winning entries. Out of 77 entries, Kinley won first place in the 2nd congressional district. Her artwork found beauty is an uncommon place: Weeds. Her piece and that of other winners will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol for one year.

Congratulations, Kinley!

6D. Educators Rising National Conference Winners
In May, we recognized high school students who were winners in the Educators Rising state competition for aspiring teachers. Those students went on to compete at nationals this summer and returned home with a second place team win. Since the students are unable to join us this evening, Ocean Lakes Principal Dr. Claire LeBlanc is accepting on their behalf.

The team from Ocean Lakes (rising-seniors Natalie Hackman and Kylee Schoolcraft and Class of 2016 seniors Harry Hudome and Jasmine Clanton) created an uplifting recruitment video about the difference that teachers make in the lives of students.

We congratulate them on their national award!

6E. Virginia Association for the Gifted Outstanding Teacher
Our final recognition circles back to our first one. Please join me in welcoming the 2016 Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for Region II: Melissa Sullivan from First Colonial High School. She is joined by her principal, Dr. Nancy Farrell.

What’s shocking is that Melissa almost didn’t become a teacher. Her dream was to become a flight attendant. We are glad she changed her mind because in her 26 years in education she has made an impact. Principal Dr. Nancy Farrell states that Melissa “has demonstrated that she is knowledgeable when it comes to innovative implementation of curriculum. She observes teachers for the purpose of assisting them to respond to students’ needs through differentiation. She also supports the administration by providing training and bringing current educational initiatives.” Whether it be helping the school tightly cluster more than 260+ gifted students or by capturing students’ interests in curriculum by relating it to a real-life application, Ms. Sullivan makes a difference. Such was the case for one student who wasn’t interested in math but who loved baseball. Ms. Sullivan not only shared how sabermetrics is used to evaluate and compare player performance, she also arranged for the student to present his authentic research before college baseball coaches. His interest in math was renewed!

Its differences like these why it’s easy to see why she is the 2016 Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for Region II. Congratulations!

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017