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Virginia First Lady Announces Rodgers as Region 4’s Top Teacher

Pamela Northam, First Lady of Virginia, today announced that Jennifer Rodgers, a social sciences teacher at Dominion High School, is the Region 4 nominee for the 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year.


Northam made the announcement at an all-school assembly at Dominion High School, which also was attended by representatives of the Virginia Department of Education, the Loudoun County School Board, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) officials, including Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams.


Northam, who was making her annual education tour of the commonwealth, told the teachers in the packed gym of the importance of their work. “You make a difference in the trajectory of the life of a child.” (Northam is a former award-winning high school biology teacher.) “Every one of us can remember a great teacher who made a great impact on our life. Someone who sparked our imagination, challenged us to dream big and helped us to achieve the impossible.


“There is one teacher here today who knows this very well.”


Northam then began reading Rodgers’ biography (Rodgers was sitting in the bleachers with her class and did not know of the award in advance.)


Northam’s final words went beyond the scope of a standard résumé: “This teacher uses her many talents to bring the world of government, politics and international relations alive, traveling with her students around the world to illuminate the human condition so that they may see and experience the storybook of mankind, becoming more worldly and reducing the divide between peoples.”


As Northam’s words echoed, Rodgers stepped from the crowd to the podium in an enthusiastic round of applause.


“I’m shocked, humbled and honored. It means so much to have this recognition,” she told her students and colleagues.


“To me, this award doesn’t represent my work, as much as it does the investment of this whole community from the county administration, which has embraced the International Summit that we hold each year, to our school administration that gives us all the support to push us along, and especially my many, many colleagues who are so dedicated.


“The biggest thing is the students here. We always push you guys to think globally, embrace it and run with it.” 


After the ceremony, Superintendent Williams praised Rodgers for embodying LCPS’ guiding academic principle. “This is an exciting recognition for Jennifer’s hard work and dedication to her students, and for the supportive school community at Dominion High which makes authentic, challenging learning a reality for the students there.”


Attending the announcement ceremony were School Board Vice Chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District), School Board member Debbie Rose (Algonkian District); Algonkian District Supervisor Suzanne Volpe, Williams, LCPS Chief of Staff Dr. Nyah Hamlett, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Ashley Ellis and Director of High School Education Neredia Gonzalez-Sales.     


Rodgers is among the nominees to become the 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year. The recipient of this award will be the commonwealth’s nominee in the National Teacher of the Year Program. Three previous Virginia teachers -- B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Rodney A. Robinson, the 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year -- went on to be named National Teachers of the Year.


The seven other 2020 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year include:

  • Gregory Patrick Lyndaker, an Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Psychology teacher at Henrico High in Henrico County (Region 1)
  • Rachel Kathryn Thompson, an International Baccalaureate World Language Spanish and Advanced Placement Capstone Seminar teacher at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach (Region 2)
  • Latasha Marlene Lee, a choral music teacher at Northumberland Middle and Northumberland High in Northumberland County  (Region 3)
  • Amy Marie Mallow, a second-grade teacher at Huddleston Elementary in Bedford County (Region 5)
  • Andrea Carson Johnson, a 12th-grade English and English 12 College Preparatory teacher at Salem High in Salem (Region 6)
  • Sarah Lea Deel, a science teacher at Marion Senior High in Smyth County (Region 7)
  • Michelle Rae Howell, a special education teacher at LaCrosse Elementary in Mecklenburg County (Region 8)


Patricia Herr of Smart’s Mill Middle School, in 2009, was the last LCPS teacher to receive the Region 4 honor. (Herr now serves as the LCPS PROPEL and Level-Up coordinator.)


Loudoun County High School social studies teacher, Lee Daniel (Dan) Kent, was named Virginia Teacher of the Year for 1997.