Above and Beyond

Kathryn Schroeck, teacher, Round Hill Elementary School

Tera Money, community member and MacKenzie Money, student

"Mrs. Schroeck is an amazing 4th grade teacher at Round Hill Elementary School. She goes above and beyond with her students daily. She is a motivator, a listener, an educator, and someone her students love and trust. She is her students' biggest cheerleader in the classroom and outside the classroom. She looks at each student's individual way they learn and takes her time with each of them. My daughter has ADHD and struggles with reading. She has her great days and her ok days. She checks in with my daughter and gives her that "Mrs. Schroeck pep talk". Mrs. Schroeck has helped her build her confidence and given her a boost in her self-esteem. With my daughter, she has accommodations in place. Mrs. Schroeck contacted me and said I want her to succeed, not just this year but every year after. She helped explain what a 504 could do to help her. She came to her meeting with steps she was taking and with a game plan in place to suggest. All of her suggestions were taken, and we were told MacKenzie is in the best hands this year. When you meet a teacher you always hope they are a good one. Mrs. Schroeck has the biggest open door policy and is always willing to listen to parents and give feedback. Her hours aren't just 7:30 to 2:15. If you need to message, she is there. Her encouragement to the students and her creative way of teaching is what has made 4th grade successful so far for our daughter. Our daughter used to dread going to school, but then she gets to school, and she sees her teacher greeting her at the door with a huge smile and a good morning. Round Hill has been extra lucky in having Mrs. Schroeck!"

MacKenzie writes:

"Mrs. Schroeck is my 4th grade teacher at Round Hill. When I get to school she is always there to say good morning and to ask me how I am doing. Mrs. Schroeck is a teacher who cares about her students and what they do outside of school. When I don’t understand my work, or I am having a bad day, Mrs. Schroeck is there to help me understand what I am supposed to do. She never gets frustrated or annoyed with me and all my questions. To be in her class is a lucky thing. She pushes the class every day to do their best. She makes everything a challenge for the class and brings out the best in each of us. She motivates me and my friends to want to learn more. She makes classwork fun. She allows us to express ourselves and gives us the comfort that we can be open with her and not be judged. Sometimes I get down on myself, but like Mrs. Schroeck tells me, my brain works differently sometimes. Mrs. Schroeck has helped give me a voice and confidence to ask for help. She still reminds me I am smart- I just see things differently. This year I have loved coming to school because I know Mrs. Schroeck is there ready to teach me and be there to help me. I don’t know what I would do without her. She has given me the tools to be the best Bear I can be at Round Hill, different brain and all!"

Ronald "Gary" Lawhorne, bus driver

Nominated by Kendayl Fissel, community member

"Mr. Gary has made riding the bus so much fun and so comfortable for all of our kids! He cheers for them. He supports them when they’re having bad days makes all the parents so comfortable knowing that their kids are in good hands to and from school. On holidays he celebrates with the kids and gives them little gifts! He makes the kids excited to go to school! He makes a point to comfort those kids who are nervous and helps ease the transition when the school year begins. And most of all, he handles the chaos and craziness of having that many elementary kids on his bus every single day with grace, humor, and so much love! We are forever grateful for him!"

Caroline Barnes, teacher, Little River Elementary School

Nominated by Srun Sookmeewiriya, community member

"Mrs. Caroline Barnes went above and beyond the call of duty as her first-year teacher at the Little River Elementary School. I've visited her classroom numerous times, witnessing the highest level of respect and obedience that her students give her daily. She keeps parents constantly informed on all the students' successes and issues and works to resolve them to 100%. For example, she addressed my son's suspected bullying concern/fostered communication within 24 hours of learning about the issue, and provided additional education on anti-bullying to the entire classroom. Furthermore, she was attentive to every student's interests, needs, and concerns. She attended my son's Junior Go-Kart practice on her personal off time after providing academic instruction at the school. My sons love attending school because of Mrs. Barnes. Mrs. Caroline Barnes's distinguished accomplishment reflects credit upon herself, the Little River Elementary School family, Loudoun County Public Schools, and the community."

Chelsea Garnsey, teacher, Hutchison Farm Elementary School

Nominated by Suzanne Salgado, community member

"Ms. Garnsey has gone above and beyond creating a community inside her classroom and creating an inclusive environment where all students can thrive. In her lessons, she incorporates personalized learning opportunities and encourages students to take ownership of their learning. She gets to know each student personally and what they need to be successful. She makes students want to come to school each day!"

Kris Acker, teacher assistant- in school restriction, Middle School

Nominated by Sarah McIntosh, dean

"Kris Acker has been an amazing addition to our team this year in her role as an ISR TA. Not only does she work to build relationships and provide skill-building and reflection opportunities for our students during lunch detention and ISR, but she also goes above and beyond in working with students on improving grades and helping them see academic success. When Kris does not have students in detention, she visits resource/study hall classes to work with students who need extra support. We are seeing significant improvement in grades and work completion with the students she works with and teachers, students, and families are appreciating this extra support. Thank you for going above and beyond, Kris! We appreciate you!"

Sherry Beverly, teacher, Legacy Elementary School

Nominated by Melissa Bugaj, assistant principal

  "Sherry Beverly is a special education teacher at Legacy who gives 110% to her students (past and present), her families (past and present), her co-teachers, and her colleagues in the building. Sherry is always one of the first cars to arrive in the morning and one of the last to leave at night. She truly brings out the best in every single person she comes into contact with in her day. The thing I admire most about her is that she makes sure every single student she encounters feels heard and confident in their abilities. She makes sure that she is there to guide her families through what could be an overwhelming process of special education. She takes the extra time to call, write, or meet with the families in person to allow time for them to process the needs and celebrate the successes. She has a caseload this year with varying degrees of disabilities, and she plans for each one with such care and dedication to ensure engagement. Whether she is celebrating kids' reading successes or jamming out with her kids to Jack Hartman, this woman's passion, empathy, humor and knowledge is unmatched! I learn from her every day and am so proud to have her as part of our team at Legacy!"


William "Skip" McKay, bus driver

Nominated by Kayla Magill, community member

"Skip was our bus driver for the track and field regional event. Skip has been our driver before and always goes above and beyond! He's always kind and patient, as we may get on the bus late. Skip is easy to talk with, and his personality brightens the long days of these trips! Thanks Skip!"

Galen Andress, teacher, Park View High School

Nominated by Natasha Ryan, community member

"My daughter has had Mr. Andress as her teacher during her time at Park View HS. Even though he is no longer her teacher, she and her fellow students still visit him during lunchtime, and use free periods or study halls to go to his class because of his support. He is not just an amazing teacher, but a phenomenal human being. I’ve heard about his kindness, compassion, non-judgmental personality, and his communication/listening skills. My daughter respects him and consistently mentions him in conversation when discussing positive role models. I have not once heard a negative thing about this teacher. The way he is able to connect with each one of his students shows how truly gifted he is at his job and that it means more to him than “just a job”."

Sana Ahmed, teacher, Little River Elementary School

Nominated by Jamie Osterhaus, community member

"I would like to nominate Ms. Ahmed, my son's second grade teacher at Little River Elementary school. He was recently sent home from school sick. At the end of the school day, Ms. Ahmed called me to check on him! I’ve never heard of a teacher doing that! Furthermore, she said that she would set some ice cream aside for him from the ice cream-making activity which he was devastated to have missed. If all of that wasn’t thoughtful enough, we were surprised at the door when one of his classmates dropped off a stack of handwritten ‘Get Well’ cards from Ms. Ahmed and each student in the classroom. I will never forget the look of absolute joy on his face as he read through each card. I could tell that he truly felt loved and valued in that moment! Ms. Ahmed truly genuinely cares about her class and it shows. Everyone has a teacher or two that they never forget. I have no doubt that Ms. Ahmed will be that for my son!

Emily Fox, counselor, Hutchison Farm Elementary  School

Nominated by Kristen Dallhoff,  community member

" Emily Fox is simply amazing. She has an ability to calm down students, provide strategies for future challenges, and follow up with them to make sure those strategies are working. She has honestly been a true hero to my family. My children have had challenges in the past that she deals with quickly, kindly, and professionally. She includes me and follows up with me every step of the way. Yesterday, my daughter came home in tears because of a situation in her class. I emailed Mrs. Fox and she had met with my daughter that morning. My daughter is so positive today and has a lot more confidence back already. Mrs. Fox has been a critical part of our experience at HFES and I am beyond grateful to her."

Melissa Ryczek, library assistant, Willard Middle School

Nominated by Michelle Yalavarthi and Cindy Walton, librarians, Willard Middle School

"Melissa creates a warm and welcoming environment for our library. We wouldn't be able to have such a successful library program without the support of Melissa. Melissa has excellent customer service skills and is always willing to take on new tasks and responsibilities. Melissa goes above and beyond her duties as a library assistant at Willard, and we are so lucky to have her as our library assistant!"

Sophie Fowler, teacher, Park View High School

Nominated by Amy Gazes, community member

"Sophie has been a pivotal lead in the Park View Rebuild. She empowers her students by making them better scholars, community members, friends and people overall. Sophie gives her all to all groups, bringing a force of equity to the school, making students of all walks of life feel accepted and comfortable. She is the department head as well, and spends countless hours outside of her contracted hours with her own students and all the students of Park View. She also lives in the Sterling Park cluster, and loves her community and her school pride is unmatched. We are so lucky to have Sophie at Park View High School. She is always dressing up for spirit days, and all the fun events supporting our school/staff. Hosts large scale art shows to show off her students' art work. Sophie led the charge for the Park View rebuild, empowering her students to be a part of the charge, and increasing their leadership skills in the community. She is the department head and sponsor of the National Honors Art Society. She leads her kids with passion, love and understanding, making the everyday lives of these students better. She also sponsors the equity club, video game club, and assists with anything the school needs despite having a very busy schedule. She strives to make the environment of all students equitable and comfortable, no matter the background. She has the staff rally behind fundraising, support and events at Park View. She always supports athletics, fine arts, the PTA, boosters any program that improves the lives of the staff and students at Park View. She lives in the community of the school she works at and goes above and beyond contributing to her community. Sophie is an absolute GEM. Sophie started the free prom event at Park View which was a huge success, receiving hundreds of free prom dresses from all across the US. She then turned it into a whole event- girls got their hair done for free, obtained a limo bus for our special education students, and more, making our prom so special for our deserving kids. She also runs our breakfast with Santa event where we serve hundreds of community members breakfast, a free picture with santa and every child takes home a free gift. She is just such a blessing to our school, I cannot say enough about her and her efforts. Sophie is the face of professionalism. She is polite, approachable, trusted by everyone. She sets boundaries for respect, equity and support for all of those in Park View. She is a leader, mentor, and friend to all her students as well as her colleagues. She can be leaned on for ANY need of the school or community and is always ready to be there for support. Sophie leads so many programs at Park View I have lost count. She prides herself on the success of her students academically as well as personal growth. She always directly communicates positives, concerns and progress with the school's admin. She's a pivotal mark on the success of many students and staff members at our school as well as community members."

Caitlin Gilmore, teacher, Willard Middle School

Nominated by Gela Russell, assistant principal

"Caitlin Gilmore is an educational star. From the moment you step into her classroom, it is clear that teaching is why she was put on this earth. She has a vivacious energy that allows her to easily teach some of the most complex topics in her eighth grade science room. When understanding the impact of global warming and fossil fuels, she had students engage in a hands-on project where they had to engineer and design a home to help "save the penguins." They had to storyboard their learning to ultimately make connections to the impact of humans on the environment, the need for societal support, and the topic at hand — thermal energy. Caitlin "Cait" recognizes that learning can and will happen anywhere. Her superpower, as she describes it, is her relationships with students. I would add that her superpower is not only her ability to establish meaningful connections with the brilliant minds before her, but also, her instructional prowess, which allows her to approach the most complex topics with ease and grace. She is a reflective practitioner who seeks ways to improve her instruction, so that every student who has the opportunity to enter her classroom walks out prepared to take on the complex world before them. She is exceptional, and we are beyond thankful to work with and learn from her."

Heather Jenkins, registrar and Janelle Daniels, financial technician, Emerick Elementary School

Nominated by Grant Schafer, supervisor, community connections

"Amazing customer service and hospitality! I had a last minute request that the principal was privy to, but Heather and Janelle in the front office were not. Without hesitation, they helped me find a space for a conference call and made me feel at home, an hour before I was scheduled to arrive at their school. Thank you for your adaptability and willingness to find a space for me in a small school where every free area is utilized!"

Monica Mongold, teacher assistant, Goshen Post Elementary School

Laura Smith, community member

"Mrs. Mongold routinely goes above and beyond for the students in her kindergarten class and the school. Mrs. Mongold cares deeply about our students' academic success and overall well-being. She recognized one student, who was struggling with behavior, was also struggling with her confidence, and found time within her day to work one on one with her and read some books that would help her feel confident being the only girl in our class with braids. This morning, she stepped in to assist a new teacher in a different grade level with the lockdown this morning because she knew it was her first time using Raptor and needed some support. She is excellent and keeps an eye on things and anticipating the needs of others. These are just two examples from today, but this type of effort looking out for other staff and students is a routine occurrence for Mrs. Mongold. I am so fortunate to have worked with her for the past 6 years."

Lisa Bellish, teacher, J. Michael Lunsford Middle School

Nominated by Lindsay Norman, colleague

"Lisa Bellish regularly goes above and beyond as a teacher and colleague. For years she has taken on the role of CLT lead and can be depended on to anticipate the needs of our team and students. If a colleague or student needs assistance, she will not hesitate to step in to help. She has demonstrated repeatedly what an asset she is to our school community and deserves to be recognized!

Susan Ambuhl, financial technician, Potowmack Elementary School

Nominated by Heather Herr, colleague

"I would like to nominate Susan Ambuhl, Potowmack Elementary's Financial Technician, for the SHINE award. Susan is on top of all the paperwork and requests. As a school that manages title 1 money, Susan acts at the drop of a hat to help us submit purchase requests and to acquire materials to support our teachers and instructional program. Most recently, we found out with only a few days' notice that we had funding for Orton Gillingham training for 2 PMK reading specialists. Although Susan was off that day, she was contacting me via email and personal cell phone to help us place the order before the deadline. As materials often trickle in in separate shipments, Susan is on top of everything we've ordered. She has followed up on several items we've ordered and almost forgotten about. She never misses a detail! I don't know how she is able to respond almost immediately to each and every "ask" I ask of her, but I am so grateful. Without her hard work, we would be without many of the great instructional resources we've been able to acquire this year for our reading program. In addition to supporting us with our funding and purchasing, Susan has helped us to acquire human resources, too. During testing, Susan worked hard to ensure we had enough substitutes on requested days to provide coverage for teachers, so they could administer required assessments. She even managed to do this while working around PMK full-day CLTs AND snow days! Without her, all of our great ideas would just be ideas- they wouldn't have actually come to fruition!"

Mari Bittar, teacher, Little River Elementary School

Nominated by Rachel Rattanasuwannakul, parent

"We have had the pleasure of being in Mrs. Mari’s class for the past two years. What an amazing teacher! Faithful as she encourages her students to succeed, Mrs. Mari Bittar SHINES above! Whether it is when she is checking in on a sick student, or sending home resources that she sought out herself, she makes school a welcoming place. I have seen firsthand the love that she pours into her students, and the time and attention she takes to get to know them and their families. In our family, every one of my kids looks forward to her home visits. This amazing teacher not only goes over and above to snap an occasional photo for parents to see a glimpse of their child’s day—putting parents at ease, schedules monthly visits (where she even encourages and includes siblings), and even writes weekly emails of what the students did! When my son played soccer for the first time, she even asked to come to a game! Last year I asked how to help my son with his weak pincer grasp; she sent home typed-up ideas of what to do and even tools that she had purchased herself to help the kids practice!"