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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
January 23, 2018

6. Student, Employee and Public Awards and Recognitions
6A. VHSL Class 6 Boys' Volleyball Player of the Year

The School Board is pleased to recognize Cox High School senior Brett Wildman who was not only selected to the Virginia High School League's 2017 All-State Volleyball team for the second time, but he was also unanimously voted as the Class 6 Boys Volleyball Player of the Year. It's easy to see why.

This season alone, Brett finished with:

  • a 381 hitting average (for those of us who don't play volleyball, an average higher than 300 is considered superb);
  • 80 aces;
  • 46 blocks; and
  • 131 digs.

This past summer he was also one of only 22 elite athletes from across the nation named to the 2017 USA boys' national team. In addition, this former baseball pitcher whose strong arm translated into success on the volleyball court, helped lead his team to a berth in last year's state tournament and this year's state championship game.

What's next? Brett is headed to Penn State where he has already signed to keep on playing volleyball. Please join me in congratulating Brett on this outstanding honor!

6B. VHSL Class 6 Boys' Volleyball Coach of the Year
You just met the volleyball player of the year. Let's now meet the Virginia High School League's Class 6 Boys Volleyball Coach of the Year: Teacher/coach Mariellen Gero from Cox High School!

Coach Gero is no stranger to Virginia Beach schools. In fact, she began her volleyball journey as a student at Princess Anne Middle School and Kellam High School, where she earned numerous honors, including being named Beach District Player of the Year and Eastern Region Player of the Year. She continued to play after high school at the United States Naval Academy, even earning a spot on the All-Navy team, which won the Armed Forces Championship.

In 2016, Gero landed her first head coaching position at Cox High School. That year, she took her team to the state tournament and was named the VHSL Co-Coach of the Year. This season, in just her second year in the job, she led Cox to become region champions and earned a spot in the state championship game. Although she credits her coaching success to the heart and talent of her athletes as well as the support from her assistant Elizabeth Clark and Cox's school administration, her dedication to the sport and leadership on and off the court led to her selection as the 2017 Coach of the Year.

Congratulations on this well-deserved award!

6C. Outstanding New Educator Award Recipient
Next, the School Board is pleased to recognize one of the nation's 2018 Outstanding New Educators, Brandon Middle School science teacher John Pienkowski!

This award is presented by the National Association for Alternative Certification to recognize exemplary educators in their first three years of teaching who earned certification through an alternative route program. Mr. Pienkowski earned his license through Regent University's Career Switcher program – and he did this after serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retiring as commanding officer of the USS Mesa Verde. What would propel a retired officer to start a new career? We asked him and here is what he said:

"I was in charge of the lives of 365 sailors and Marines and an almost $2 billion warship. I had to do a lot of training and teaching. I had been working with young officers right out of college and young sailors right out of high school. I enjoyed teaching them. I joined the Navy to serve my country; to serve something bigger than myself. I felt teaching was a calling. I thought to myself 'You really love science. You are really energetic about teaching young people. You served your nation. Go serve your community.'"

Two years into teaching, he – and his students – are loving his new role. It's not surprising why he was selected as one of the NAAC's three Outstanding New Educators. Congratulations!

6D. Distinguished Budget Presentation Award
Our last recognition is to recognize the school division's Department of Budget and Finance for receiving the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. Accepting the award are staff members from that department and Chief Financial Officer Farrell Hanzaker.

This award, which is for the 2016-2017 budget document, is of particular importance because it is the highest form of recognition granted to an entity by the Government Finance Officers Association, or G-F-O-A.

In order to receive this award, an organization's budget document is judged by independent reviewers against 27 criteria established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting as well as the G-F-O-A's best practices.

Congratulations on this notable distinction.

Last Modified on Monday, April 23, 2018