VanCleef Named Secondary New Teacher of the Year


Matthew VanCleef, a special education teacher at Farmwell Station Middle School, is the 2020 Loudoun County Public Schools Secondary New Teacher of the Year.


“From both my observations and those of his colleagues, Mr. VanCleef holds characteristics and qualities of top educators and not your average first-year teacher,” Farmwell Assistant Principal Tonya Edwards wrote in her nomination letter. “Whether it be his ability to teach a variety of subject matter at various levels, classroom management skills, or his unique capacity to connect with special needs students, Mr. VanCleef has proven himself a teacher with whom students and staff look forward to working with. His commitment to the teaching profession is an inspiration to all.”


Adaptive physical education teacher Dee Jefferson wrote this, “Matthew has proven his passion to promote student achievement and the long-term success of exceptional learners. Matthew selects evidence-based instructional strategies and designs active-learning experiences to target the specific learning needs of each student.”


“Matthew’s devotion to his students has inspired them to grow and inspired his fellow teachers to continue loving our profession,” wrote learning specialist Karla Campot. “ ‘Mr. V.’ as his students call him, has endured, with commendable grace, kindness, firmness, positive attitude and a smile through the challenges of a ‘brand new’ teacher.”


“Throughout the course of the school day, Mr. VanCleef exhibits a great level of patience,” learning specialist Margaret Kaniewski wrote. “He manages an extremely diverse population in his classroom, varying from non-verbal to verbal, a variety of behaviors as well as academic needs and levels. Mr. VanCleef strives to perform to a level of perfection in all aspects of his position as a special education teacher.”


VanCleef is admired by his colleagues for his zeal, dedication and professional demeanor. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.


VanCleef was informed of his award by Principal Sherryl Loya, Director of Human Resources and Talent Development Robert Phillips and Supervisor of Mentoring and Coaching Julie Baye.


Previous recipients of this award include Will Herndon, Blue Ridge Middle School (2017); Matthew Frye, Stone Hill Middle School (2018); and Christopher Mangogna, Stone Hill Middle School (2019).