2018 Citywide Teacher of the Year

Amanda Pontifex

2018 Citywide Teacher of the Year
Amanda Pontifex

Amanda Pontifex, a fifth-grade teacher at Shelton Park Elementary School, is the 2018 Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Citywide Teacher of the Year. Pontifex was selected as the citywide winner from an initial pool of 87 Teachers of the Year.

Pontifex has been teaching for nine years, all with VBCPS. She began her career at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School and taught at Point O’ View Elementary School before joining Shelton Park’s staff in 2014. “I’ve always known I was born to help people,” Pontifex wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. She initially sought to fulfill that goal by enrolling in Radford University’s School of Nursing. After two years of studies, “I chose to explore the elementary education world and I’m so glad I did as I haven’t looked back since committing to that decision,” Pontifex wrote. She enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, both in education. Pontifex also completed graduate studies to earn an administrative endorsement from Longwood University.

Pontifex describes her personal teaching philosophy as “one that encompasses the whole child, empowers the children as well as their families, builds capacity in myself and my colleagues, finds strength in collaboration and experiences gratitude for my opportunities in education.”

Shelton Park Principal Tara Brewer wrote in her letter of recommendation, “Amanda consistently delivers quality instruction to her students. It is a joy to visit her class and watch her skillfully reach every child. Enthusiastic, engaging and well-structured presentation of grade-level objectives keeps Amanda’s students on the edge of their seats. She is respected as an instructional leader here at Shelton Park and is an outstanding example for our faculty and for teachers everywhere!”

Shelton Park colleague Cythnia Lane also used the word “joy” to describe working with Pontifex.

Amanda Pontifex

“Along with being an exceptional educator, Amanda has always been a blessing to work with. She has an omnipresent positive attitude,” wrote Lane in a recommendation letter. “[She] has high expectations for herself and her students. She is skilled at building relationships and bringing out the best qualities in everyone who has the fortune of knowing her and working with her. She is always available for conversations with parents, who truly adore and appreciate all that she does not only for the students in her classroom, but for the entire student body.”

Parents joined staff members in expressing their praise for how Pontifex is making a difference in students’ lives.

“As an educator, you are expected to help others to acquire competency and values. Amanda possesses the ability to not only nourish her students to accomplish those goals but to surpass them,” wrote the parents of two of Pontifex’s former students. They added their wish that “every teacher was as kind, loving, supportive, engaging and generous” as Pontifex. “She goes above and beyond on all levels – teaching, caring and investing her time and as a mentor.”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Pontifex devotes time to support the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and has served as a PTA board member and standing secretary. She was named Shelton Park Elementary’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year for her service to the PTA. “For me, being an invested member in my community goes hand in hand with my commitment to purposeful education. I live a mile from my school, so when I’m investing my time there, I’m also investing it in strengthening my surrounding community,” wrote Pontifex. Additionally, as a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, she and her students participate in various projects with the organization. Pontifex also serves as Shelton Park’s school improvement coordinator, a volunteer tutor and a member of the school’s leadership and math action teams.

Though honored and humbled by the Teacher of the Year award, Pontifex said, “My kids are really the star of my show. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

To hear more from Pontifex about her teaching philosophy and working with students, view the video below.