Shining Light Awards

Shining Light Award

The Shining Light Award honors staff members in Portsmouth Public Schools who are excelling in their jobs and making a positive impact in the division – and, subsequently, the whole community. Specifically, The Shining Light Award highlights exceptional staff members within the division, who go above and beyond in their roles to ensure that students, colleagues, and families all are Shining Brighter Together. Learn more about this year's honorees below.

Lenette Hillian

Lenette Hillian, Brighton Elementary
Ms. Hillian, an innovative educator, continually explores fresh and captivating methods to involve students in the learning process through the integration of technology. Her commitment to enhancing the educational experience is evident as she embraces cutting-edge tools, interactive platforms, and digital resources. By leveraging technology, Ms. Hillian fosters a dynamic and interactive classroom environment, where students actively participate, collaborate, and develop essential skills for the digital age. Her approach not only keeps students engaged but also empowers them to navigate and succeed in an increasingly tech-driven world, creating a stimulating and future-ready learning atmosphere.

Dallas Vanlear

Dallas Vanlear, Churchland Academy
Mr. Vanlear is a positive light for so many of our students. As one of the few males in our building, he serves as the role model for our boys. Whenever he is needed, he is right there for students and staff. When he sees a need, he fills the need. If a student is needing shoes, Mr. Vanlear will run out during his planning and buy them with his own money. Or when a student was evicted, he supplied the young man with duffle bags of clothes to start the school year. Mr. Vanlear truly cares about the community of Portsmouth and the students of CAES.

Jennifer Columbus

Jennifer Columbus, Churchland Elementary
Ms. Columbus works tirelessly to create a warm, inviting atmosphere in her library. She encourages personal relationships with each and every one of her students who enter the room and she holds them to high standards. She frequently volunteers to cover classes and lunch room duty. She also volunteers for our PBIS team. She goes above and beyond her duties by creating "Library VIP" where students can come to the library for 20 minutes for STEM and creative activities. Ms. Columbus also promotes SEL practices with her kindness messages throughout the school. Ms. Columbus really is invested in our students and school and she strives to make it a better place every day.

Tiffany Myers

Tiffany Myers, Churchland Middle
Mrs. Myers is a leader not only in her own building but with all middle school counselors across the division. She's the “go-to” for all things middle school counseling and has a wealth of knowledge that she is always willing to share. She is creative and always willing to try something new to make an impact for her students. This year she has also taken on some additional duties with our School Based Mental Health grant and her assistance has been invaluable. She is an amazing School Counselor and PPS is fortunate to have her!


Kelly Williams

Kelly Williams, Cradock Middle
Our school counselor, Ms. Williams, is a Shining Light! She is charismatic, creative, and thinks outside the box. Although she only took over as the director of school counseling last year, she has already made a lasting impact. She has shown excellent management skills and developed a rapport with students, colleagues, and parents that is characterized by mutual respect. She has many notes and emails that compliment her and the impact she's had on her students. She currently serves as a mentor for our new counselor and also helps to organize the division wide middle school counselor meetings.

Pamalin Walton

Pamalin Walton, Hodges Manor Elementary
Mrs. Pamalin Walton has shown up year after year to Hodges Manor Elementary with a positive spirit that encourages unity. Mrs. Walton is able to use her compassionate and encouraging voice to motivate others to always do their best no matter the situation. Mrs. Walton recognizes and values the individual contributions of all people that help to make our school the best that it can be. Ms. Walton reminds our school to set high standards through hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. By embodying these traits, she has lit a light that will forever shine bright.

Donna Dixon

Donna Dixon, I.C. Norcom High School
Ms. Dixon stands as the inspiration of dedication and unwavering support for our senior class. As the senior class sponsor, she exceeds her role beyond organizing events and ceremonies. Her commitment to each student's success is nothing short of extraordinary. Her tireless efforts extend far beyond the classroom, ensuring that every senior's experience is memorable and impactful. From late-night planning sessions to lending a listening ear during moments of stress, Ms. Dixon embodies the spirit of guidance and encouragement. Ms. Dixon’s impact reaches far beyond a student’s final year, shaping them into future leaders and compassionate individuals.

Mary Miles

Mary Miles, Lakeview Elementary
Mrs. Miles is a dedicated employee who takes pride in doing her job with perfection. Mrs. Miles works diligently with our chronic absenteeism. It is because of her that we are number one in the division for attendance. She is also committed to following the policy and procedures of Portsmouth Public Schools. In addition, Mrs. Miles is compassionate and is always willing to help when and wherever needed. She builds positive relationships with parents, students and staff.

Rosemary Bakhtiari

Rosemary Bakhtiari, Manor High School
Mrs. Bakhtiari has demonstrated exceptional dedication and leadership in various roles, making a positive impact on both students and teachers. As the adept manager of our school website, Mrs. Bakhtiari ensures that our online presence is not only informative but also engaging for everyone in the school community. Her role as the sponsor of the school yearbook reflects her commitment to preserving cherished memories and capturing the essence of our school year. Beyond these responsibilities, Mrs. Bakhtiari who also serves as our only school librarian, goes the extra mile providing invaluable technology instruction to teachers, enhancing their skills and enriching the learning experience for students. Mrs. Bakhtiari’s unwavering dedication and the positive difference she makes in our educational community are truly commendable.

Tammy Moone

Tammy Moone, Olive Branch Preschool
Tammy Moone is a True Shining Star at Olive Branch Preschool Center. As an associate, Mrs. Moone wears many hats. She works as our librarian and creates lessons that support the Bright Start program and also visits the Special Ed classes with appropriate hands-on, engaging activities. Mrs. Moone organizes school sponsors and the assistance that is needed from each of them. Each day she greets our school for the morning announcements with positivity and joy, and she helps with arrivals and dismissals. Mrs. Moone is a keystone to our Olive Branch family. She is a ray of sunshine and her positive attitude resonates every day, all day from students to staff and families.

Miyoshi Harding

Miyoshi Harding, Parkview Elementary
Miyoshi Harding shines brightly in her role as a Reading Interventionist, continuously growing and excelling in her commitment to student success. Beyond her official duties, Ms. Harding goes above and beyond by actively participating in after-school events, offering tutoring to struggling students, staying late to support colleagues, and even lending a helping hand in administrative tasks. Her dedication extends to ensuring the safety and security of the school community, and she frequently takes the initiative to solicit volunteers for various school initiatives. Ms. Harding's unwavering passion for education and her selfless contributions make her a true Shining Light, illuminating the path to a brighter, more supportive learning environment for all.

Reena Mulder

Reena Mulder, Victory Elementary
Reena Mulder is an asset to Victory Elementary School. Working as our Office Manager, she keeps things running smoothly. Reena demonstrates our motto of “Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.” She greets students, staff, and families with a warm smile and a kind word. She does so much that goes unrecognized by many. She deserves our deepest respect and gratitude. Reena certainly goes the extra mile each and every single day.


Janai Eley

Janai Eley, Waters Middle
Janai Eley is an outstanding CTE teacher. She uses the latest and most innovative activities to keep the students engaged in learning. In the Crime Mystery Activity, the students were engaged in using clues to solve the crime. The students’ excitement and engagement about working together to complete the assignment was fantastic. She differentiates her instruction to meet the needs of all students. She has a great rapport with the students; therefore, they are actively engaged in the task at hand. Additionally, her classroom is student- centered, where the students take ownership of their learning.

Jennifer McDougall

Jennifer McDougall, Westhaven Elementary
Mrs. McDougall exemplifies all of the qualities of a Master Teacher. She takes the time to determine the educational needs of her students and bridges the achievement gap by writing engaging lessons and using technology to activate learning in her classroom. She has taught multiple grades and even has looped with her students to ensure that they received a quality education and bridge the academic gaps that they had. The past three years Mrs. McDougall has carried the highest score in reading in the building for Westhaven students. She has a rapport with her parents and is respected by her colleagues.

Martha Carroll

Martha Carroll, Instructional Resource Center
Martha Carroll has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, attention to detail, and a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty - all while maintaining a consistently positive and friendly demeanor. This attention to detail has contributed significantly to creating a clean and inviting environment for our staff, and visitors. Ms. Carroll has demonstrated a remarkable willingness to perform duties that go beyond her job description. Her versatility and willingness to take on additional responsibilities have been instrumental in ensuring the smooth operation of our administrative facility. She not only ensures that our facility is physically clean but also contributes to a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere that reflects positively on our organization.

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