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.

Barbara Johnson-Gray

Barbara Johnson-Gray, Brighton Elementary
Ms. Johnson-Gray is an outstanding figure in education, serving as a beacon of support and expertise in various roles. As a highly proficient math coach, she navigates complex concepts with ease, guiding students and colleagues alike to success. Additionally, her adept coordination as Testing, Attendance Recovery, and SOL Tutor Coordinator showcases her organizational prowess and dedication to student achievement. Ms. Johnson-Gray's unwavering willingness to lend a hand, coupled with her dependable nature and vast knowledge, makes her an invaluable asset to her school community.

Kintrell Devin

Kintrell Devin, Churchland Academy Elementary
Ms. Devin is a strong advocate for the students of Churchland Academy. She established the Safety Patrol team for our school this year which has trained students to be leaders and built relationships between our upper and lower grade students. Ms. Devin goes above and beyond the security role in mentoring our students and connecting the community to our school. She serves on our attendance team, sponsors Anchored 4 Life, and is our Captain of March Madness. She attends many outside conferences to stay up to date on school safety and is always willing to step up for our school.

Fred Towalid

Fred Towalid, Churchland Middle
Mr. Fred Towalid’s impactful contributions have been a cornerstone of our success at every turn. Serving as a Technical Support Specialist, Mr. Towalid sets a commendable example by showcasing essential skills such as attention to detail and ethical integrity. His exceptional performance has flourished, and he has proven to be a committed mentor, playing a crucial role in our collective success and the training of new staff members. Mr. Towalid consistently exhibits a readiness to undertake additional responsibilities and remains dedicated to the well-being of our students and staff at Portsmouth Public Schools.

Latesha Young

Latesha Young, Churchland Preschool
Ms. Young is truly deserving of the Shining Light Award! As an aspiring early childhood teacher, Ms. Young has exemplified as a motivated teacher by showing up consistently, inspiring and engaging students on a daily basis. She stays late on occasion to prepare for instruction, which demonstrates her exceptional commitment to students and their families. As a motivated educator, she ensured 100% participation from students and parents in the Class Dojo model, and she works diligently with her students to show fidelity in the Waterford Program. It is with great honor that she represents Churchland Preschool as a Shining Light Award recipient!

Patti Fleming

Patti Fleming, Churchland Primary & Intermediate
Mrs. Fleming is a nurturing, kind and patient Reading Specialist, who has a passion for teaching reading strategies to our students in grade levels K-6. She models effective instructional strategies that foster Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension. Students have fun learning the components of reading during small group instruction with Mrs. Fleming. She has done a phenomenal job with our Family Literacy Night Events. During these events, she shares research-based strategies with the parents and gives them pamphlets for engaging successful readers. She is always willing to go the extra mile to support our students and teachers. She is a team player who inspires students to develop a mindset for loving to read books. She is an asset to our school and division.

Melva Bland

Melva Bland, Douglass Park Elementary
Ms. Bland stands out as a true inspiration at Douglass Park Elementary, showcasing the commitment and passion of an outstanding faculty member. With unwavering dedication, she forges deep connections with her students, setting a shining example for her peers. Through her efforts, Ms. Bland is deserving of the Shining Light Award, celebrating her tireless work towards fostering a supportive and enriching learning atmosphere for students, colleagues, and families alike. She embodies the school division's vision to Shine Brighter Together.

Danielle Brown

Danielle Brown, Hodges Manor Elementary
Ms. Brown always goes above and beyond for the students and other staff members. She will give the shirt off her back and is more than willing to assist everyone. Not only will she work to help make sure that classes are covered, she also assists the kindergarten classes with students who may need extra support. Ms. Brown is well loved by the students here. She serves as our basketball coach and she led our students, staff, and parents to a victory for the third year in a row. Her beautiful personality radiates throughout the school.

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith, Lakeview Elementary
Mr. Smith is passionate about the students of Lakeview Elementary School. He starts his day by saying encouraging words to our students as they enter the building. He builds positive relationships with students and parents. He works with students on finding strategies to help redirect negative behavior into positive behavior. He meets with parents before school to develop behavior plans to help with behavior issues. In addition, on the weekends, he attends activities such as football games, basketball games, and other athletic events to support students’ participation. Mr. Smith is a true team player. He works collaboratively with the staff and administration. His commitment to our students shines throughout the building.

Jacqueline Evans

Jacqueline Evans, Manor High School
Mrs. Evans has demonstrated exceptional dedication and adept leadership in her role as the Food Services manager of our school cafeteria. Mrs. Evans ensures that our 1,200 students and 140 staff are served a scrumptious breakfast as well as a delicious healthy lunch while also providing student athletes a healthy snack prior to their activities. Her work impacts our school in such a positive manner. She goes the extra mile to provide support for special programs held on our campus during the school year. She has a commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive school environment. Mrs. Evans’s unwavering dedication and the positive difference she makes in our educational community are truly commendable.

Laura Rieg

Laura Rieg, Olive Branch Preschool Center
Laura Rieg is a burst of sunshine at Olive Branch Preschool. She loves to learn and goes above and beyond being a Reverse Inclusion Special Education Teacher. Mrs. Rieg is an awesome leader, mentor and role model for new and veteran teachers at Olive Branch and also throughout the school system. She serves as a great resource to our entire school whether it be through providing teachers assistance with IEPs, scheduling, planning or any other needed support. She enjoys coaching parents of students with disabilities and supports them with activities, interventions and even a listening ear when needed. Her great attitude and contagious smile creates a bright atmosphere every day for her Olive Branch Preschool Family!

Annette Gatling

Annette Gatling, Simonsdale Elementary
Annette Gatling is an invaluable member of our school community. She takes great pride in ensuring that our school is clean, safe, and welcoming. Her attention to detail and commitment to maintaining a high standard of cleanliness is evident in every aspect of her work. Her work ethic is admirable. Ms. Gatling is always willing to help with any task and always has the brightest smile! She assists with welcoming our students into the building every morning. Her positive attitude uplifts them and all those around her. Her dedication, hard work, and genuine care for Simonsdale Elementary makes Annette Gatling a shining light.

Shanetta Hicks

Shanetta Hicks, Victory Elementary
In every school, there are individuals who quietly but consistently go above and beyond their duties to ensure that the environment is safe, clean, and conducive to learning. Ms. Shanetta Hicks is undoubtedly one of these exceptional individuals. From meticulously maintaining the cleanliness of our classrooms and hallways to promptly addressing any maintenance issues that arise, Ms. Hicks demonstrates an unparalleled level of dedication and professionalism in everything she does. She may not seek recognition or praise for her efforts, but her hard work behind the scenes does not go unnoticed. We want to express our gratitude for all that she does.

Abesinghes Perera

Abesinghes Perera, Westhaven Elementary
Mrs. Perera exudes enthusiasm and positivity wherever she goes in the building. She is a special education teacher for fifth- and sixth-grade reading and math. Mrs. Perera works with all students in the classroom regardless of whether they have an IEP or just need assistance. Many of the students prefer working with her in a small group where she provides clarity on solving mathematical calculations or helps students with strategies to improve reading comprehension and fluency. Mrs. Perera always meets deadlines that are set by the Office of Special Education and those that are set by administration. She meets challenges with a smile and helps students to believe in themselves daily.

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