Rachael Lasky - the 2019 PPS Teacher of the Year

Rachael Lasky is the 2019 PPS Teacher of the Year
Posted on 03/28/2019
2019 Portsmouth Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Rachel Lasky      Preschool Teachers of the Year

Elementary Teachers of the Year 

Middle School Teachers of the Year

High School Teachers of the Year

Mrs. Lasky was named the 2019 Teacher of the Year at a special “Shining Stars” celebration held to honor the Teachers of the Year from each school.  The event was held at Woodrow Wilson High School on Wednesday, March 27. 

Mrs. Lasky has taught at William E. Waters Middle for four years. She is the science department chair, serves as a curriculum writer for Grade 8 Science and is a member of the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison and a master’s degree from George Mason University. Mrs. Lasky is known for researching best teaching practices, refining them and making them her own. A typical learning experience in her classroom involves a focus on movement, asking questions, technology, communicating, finding connections with real-life experiences and, of course, calling on the power of humor, story-telling and collaboration.

Other finalists for the TOY honor were Davina Williams, a 5th grade teacher at Churchland Academy Elementary School, who was named Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Arielle Darden, a science teacher at Churchland High School, who was named High School Teacher of the Year. Besides being named division-wide Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Lasky was also recognized as the Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Portsmouth Public Schools Teacher of the Year Finalists

2019 Portsmouth Public Schools Teacher of the Year Finalist, Davina Williams of Churchland Academy Elementary School
           2019 Portsmouth Public Schools Teacher of the Year Finalist, Arielle Darden of Churchland High School
Elementary Teacher of the Year   High School Teacher of the Year
Davina Williams
5th Grade Teacher
Churchland Academy Elementary School 
Mrs. Williams' classroom is an active one with a focus on instruction that includes music, movement, hands-on activities, technology integration and repetition designed to encourage skills development.                                                                                                                                                        
  Arielle Darden
Science Teacher
Churchland High School
Mrs. Darden works diligently to encourage creativity among her students. She gives them many opportunities to participate in hands-on learning, inquiry-based lab activities and content discussions She also encourages them to learn and retain knowledge through such engaging strategies as mini-songs and chats.
Preschool Teachers of the Year      
2019 Churchland Preschool Teacher of the Year, Diane Deloach   2019 Mt. Hermon Preschool Teacher of the Year, Donna Williams
Diane Deloach
VPI Teacher
Churchland Preschool Center

Ms. Deloach believes that embracing each student’s unique personality is key to classroom success. She believes concepts need to be taught in multiple ways since preschoolers are just figuring how they learn. Some of include incorporating movement into calendar time, singing songs, learning letters and sounds and pretend play.
  Donna Williams
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Mt. Hermon Preschool Center

Mrs. Williams considers observing students in an interactive environment filled with daily routines, activities centers as key to determining their strengths and challenges. She uses this information to provide instruction that meets their needs and sets objectives in a meaningful environment.
2019 Olive Branch Preschool Teacher of the Year, Kelly Goodman
Kelly Goodman
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Olive Branch Preschool Center

Mrs. Goodman believes this approach is key to educating children --  being consistent, providing choices, providing positive reinforcement, understanding students’ strengths and challenges and setting independence as a goal to meet. She works hard to understand each student individually so she can effectively engage them in their learning experience. 

Elementary School Teachers of the Year 

 2019 Brighton Elementary Teacher of the Year, Lenette Hillian-Sanders                             2019 Churchland Elementary Teacher of the Year, Deborah Hoke
Lenette Hillian-Sanders
Special Education Teacher
Brighton Elementary School

Mrs. Hillian-Sanders firmly believes that if students are given the ability to be active participants in their education, they will rise to the occasion and take ownership of their learning experiences. She creates a classroom culture that is student-centered – one where she facilitates learning and encourages students to become subject matter experts.
                      Deborah Hoke
Kindergarten Teacher
Churchland Elementary School

Mrs. Hoke says that it is important to show students that learning can be fun and exciting. She challenges her students while providing a classroom setting designed to support the unique needs of each child.
2019 Churchland Primary & Intermediate Elementary Teacher of the Year, Crystal Speller
   2019 Douglass Park Elementary Teacher of the Year, Margaret Mitchell
Crystal Speller
5th Grade Teacher
Churchland Primary & Intermediate Elementary School

Mrs. Speller concentrates on getting to know each student individually so she can empower and encourage to push past obstacles and be the best they can be. Those who have visited her class have probably heard her students’ daily chant: “I am smart and I can do this!”
  Margaret Mitchell
th Grade Teacher
Douglass Park Elementary School

Mrs. Mitchell believes the key to student success is to establish routines and organization while communicating expectations to all stakeholders, holding them accountable for their actions using both rewards and consequences. She believes in the power of consistency, a sense of humor, celebrating one another, having fun and always seeking to learn.

2019 Hodges Manor Elementary Teacher of the Year, Demando King-Anderson
  2019 James Hurst Teacher of the Year, Heather DeLaney

Demando King-Anderson
1st Grade Teacher
Hodges Manor Elementary School

Mrs. King-Anderson believes in checking in with students often to ensure they are understanding the materials being taught. She designs end goals so students know exactly what they are working toward.
She allows students to share in the development of their learning experiences because that reinforces understanding.
  Heather DeLaney
2nd Grade Teacher
James Hurst Elementary School, Elementary School TOY Finalist

Ms. DeLaney believes it is important to teach with high expectations from the first day, so students have clear goals to work toward. She sets clear objectives and explains rules and procedures to help set a positive and consistent tone.

2019 Lakeview Elementary Teacher of the Year, Tracy Riddle
Heather Neal
Instructional Reading Coach
John Tyler Elementary School, Elementary School TOY Finalist

Mrs. Neal believes it’s important to educate the whole child, so she designs her lessons around the student’s preferred learning style. This allows her students to learn exciting material in a way that best helps them excel and reach their goals.
  Traci Riddle
5th Grade Math Teacher
Lakeview Elementary School, Elementary School TOY Finalist

Mrs. Riddle believes educating students starts with building a positive relationship with them so they know they are valued, cared about and their teacher has a real interest in their educational success. She connects with them by finding out about their individual likes, dislikes, family dynamics, extracurricular interests and academic interests.
 2019 Parkview Elementary Teacher of the Year, Calandra Coleman   2019 Simonsdale Elementary Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Gurkin

Calandra Coleman
Special Education Teacher
Park View Elementary School

Mrs. Coleman encourages students to challenge existing boundaries by teaching them to question how they have come to know what they believe to be true about the world. She gives her students the opportunity to be engaged with materials and perceive the subject matter as being directly relevant to their lives.
  Elizabeth Gurkin
Special Education Teacher
Simonsdale Elementary School

Mrs. Gurkin works to encourage a classroom environment where children feel safe, loved and inspired to grow academically and personally. She accomplishes this by creating an environment of respect and positivity with routines, rules, and clear, concise and consistent consequences.
2019 Victory Elementary Teacher of the Year, Farren Webb

  2019 Westhaven ElementaryTeacher of the Year, Samantha Norris
Farren Webb
5th Grade Teacher
Victory Elementary School

Mrs. Webb is diligent about providing an environment where students can develop a love of learning so they can succeed. She employs such strategies as project-based learning, writing to learn, cooperative groups and other engaging ways that allow students to learn the material based on their individual needs and learning styles.
  Samantha Norris
Kindergarten Teacher
Westhaven Elementary School

Mrs. Norris believes it is important for teachers to get to know their students so they can find out how they best learn. Knowing which students need to see the process, read about or write the process, and even do the process allows her to teach her lessons in a way that suits each student, allowing for greater success.
Middle School Teachers of the Year     
2019 Churchland Middle Teacher of the Year, Diana Avents   2019 Cradock Middle Teacher of the Year, Nicolle MacEachin 
Diana Avents
Churchland Middle School 
Math 8 Teacher, Middle School TOY Finalist

Mrs. Avents believes that educating students starts with providing a wonderful learning environment – one that supports inquiry-based instruction, active learning, cooperative learning and differentiation. She teaches students the importance of practicing critical thinking skills to help them in developing their judgment, evaluation and problem-solving skills.
  Nicolle MacEachin
English Teacher
Cradock Middle School

Ms. MacEachin works to establish open communication and collaboration in her classroom. She does this by facilitating formal and informal discussions and evaluation of class activities. She is committed to providing her positive feedback and encouragement, while allowing them the opportunity to express their concerns.
High School Teachers of the Year 
2019 I. C. Norcom High School Teacher of the Year, James Hill
  2019 Woodrow Wilson High School Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Garcell

James Hill
Science Teacher
I.C. Norcom High School

Mr. Hill considers forming a bond and connection with students to be just as important as teaching the content.  After reading a groundbreaking book called The Art and Science of Teaching, Mr. Hill committed to applying those teaching practices and saw a dramatic improvement in how his students connected to subject material and retained the information.
  Jennifer Garcell
Science Teacher
Woodrow Wilson High School, High School TOY Finalist

Mrs. Garcell believes that educating students starts with effective classroom management. Students cannot learn well in an environment that is chaotic, unstructured or unsafe. She provides a positive and effective learning environment by developing and consistently enforcing policies, procedures expectations from day one.

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