Unique and Creative Ideas

Debbie Heverin, teacher, Hutchison Farm Elementary School

Nominated by Suzanne Salgado, community member

"Ms. Heverin organized a musical "informance" for all the 3rd grade classes and invited the parents to come see it. This was such a wonderful idea to invite the community into the school and see what the students are working on in music in real time, not just at the end during a formal performance. Parents don't often get to see what students are doing in the specials classes, and this gave them that opportunity. The "informance" was so well run and students got the chance to plan and help run it. She went above and beyond in getting this all together."

Annie Cave, teacher, J. Michael Lunsford Middle School

Nominated by Chonlatip Vuttilerdanun, colleague

"I am nominating Mrs. Annie Cave for SHINE- Spotlighting Heroes in Education. As teachers of students with a wide variety of learning disabilities, we understand the importance of developing plans for success in school. Mrs. Annie has helped our students with every concern that we have, such as mobility concerns, feeding, and assisting with plans for independence, etc. She is wonderful, kind, and supportive, and makes the lessons fun, which makes us really enjoy her class every week. She is a great teacher that makes class fun with her bright and creative learning activities. She is truly a great teacher!"

Wendy Dalton, teacher and Deborah Stafford, teacher assistant, Hillsboro Charter Academy

Nominated by Ida May Lara, community member

"Mrs. Wendy Dalton, and her TA Mrs. Stafford, have to be the greatest kindergarten team in Loudoun County. Mrs. Dalton inspires her kids every day to be open to learning. She uses all the tools to get her kids reading and writing before the end of the school year. She always greets the child with a smile and hugs, and personally inspires the kids to want to learn!! Mrs. Stafford also greets the kids with smiles and warmth. There is not enough room on this page to list why this is THE kindergarten dream team!!!


Michael Slobodnjak, teacher, Willard Middle School

Nominated by Michelle Campiglia, principal

"Michael Slobodnjak has gone above and beyond in organizing our school's literacy and numeracy interventions. His focus on putting students first, attention to detail, and outstanding follow-through have been instrumental in the success of our launch of these supports this semester. We are so fortunate to have him at Willard!"

Ashley Spalletta, teacher, Park View High School

Nominated by Antony, student

"Mrs. Spalletta is honestly an awesome teacher to have. A good music teacher to have is one that knows our mistakes and uses those as a way to improve and be more active around our class. She has the same ego and humor as us, which helps us understand what music is really meant for. Realizing that we as a class have the potential to make music sound beautiful and uplifting is awesome. She uses her goofy side to show that this can work and improve the emptiness in the room. She is also such a good understanding and reliable teacher to talk to; she is amazing at understanding us."

Ragini Maheshwari, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Madhuri Janardana, community member

"Mrs. Maheshwari has been very supportive regarding my child's accommodation requests. She has been receptive to requests for individualized accommodations for my child and tailors instructions to suit the way my child learns best. She communicates effectively with instructional staff and social workers to make the learning experience great for my child. She keeps me updated on the progress my child is making and lets me know immediately in case something needs attention. Mrs. Maheshwari has helped with accommodation requests for my child. My child and I feel comfortable reaching out to her and I can rely on her to make my child's learning experience great. Mrs. Maheshwari communicates professionally and empathetically. I feel happy knowing that my child has a supportive instructor who is invested in my child's overall progress. She regularly updates me on the progress my child is making. She helps my child learn better, organize her schoolwork and plan her time better."

Katie McMurrer, teacher, Willard Middle School

Nominated by Gela Russell, assistant principal

"Katie McMurrer is an exceptional educator who finds a way to simplify some of the most complex information for our scholars. For example, students recently made ice cream as part of a lab to understand phase changes. Working together, students ferociously strived to quickly answer their critical thinking lab questions, so they could enjoy the fruits of their labor — ice cream! Throughout the process, Katie could be found working with students, helping them review their answers and overall thinking, and singing along to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” — a reminder of how to actually make the ice cream (by shaking). It was a fantastic day of learning! Katie is a superstar!"

Terri Daniel, Technical Security Technician, Support Services

Nominated by Gela Russell, assistant principal

"Terri is the person that ensures that every task is done to the best of his ability. Recently, we required major electrical work at Willard for our security system. Terri worked tirelessly to complete the work, even coming back after multiple days to ensure that the corrections to the system were actually working. He rewired the system, tested it, and then asked us to monitor any changes. He navigated all of this intricate and detailed work while also speaking directly with systems vendors and collaborating with his leadership. He is solution-oriented and focused on support. Terri is an exceptional leader who leads with kindness and a sense of community. He wants to deliver his best work and makes a point of doing so each and every day."

Evelyn Gillis, office technician, Lincoln Elementary School

Nominated by Dave Michener, principal

"Evelyn Gillis, the office technician at Lincoln, meets most afternoons with a fifth grade student. This student and Ms. Gillis play Uno and talk about her day. The student also leads our afternoon announcements each day. These interactions have greatly improved the child's attendance and behavior."

Krishawna Goins, Goshen Post Elementary School

Nominated by Laura Smith, colleague



"Krishawna Goins is our equity lead at Goshen Post, and she takes on this role with a dedication and passion that is unmatched. Krishawna routinely goes above and beyond by providing the entire staff with lessons, information, books, and any resources needed to make sure all students at Goshen Post feel affirmed, respected, and included. Ms. Goins' extensive knowledge of social justice and equity has elevated the teaching of everyone she works with. Ms. Goins has brought our school together through “One GPE” lessons. These lessons provide opportunities for students to make connections with other students (buddy classes) and staff. The format of our last lesson provided the opportunity to think about what makes an adult a trusted adult, while at the same time establishing a deeper connection with additional staff through buddy classes. Goshen Post is a better place for staff and students because Ms. Goins is here."

Nick Grzeda, Supervisor, Computer Science


Nominated by Jennifer Andos, community member

"Nick is running the Think Big Space, a brand-new initiative in LCPS, helping create new programs and curriculum not only for the students at SMS, but also for LCPS instructors and community members. He works with every level of educator in LCPS. As a community member, I have worked with him to bring the Think Big Space experience to people in the community. Nick works on a complex schedule to get as many individuals and groups in as possible. He has also selected and trained a group of 8th grade boys who are now teaching others. This diverse group of young people have shown real growth and leadership under Nick's direction. He works with Abby, who is helping to create a unique and equitable curriculum. Nick shares a calendar with all stakeholders and also attends the business partnership council to stay involved and gain continuing support from the business partners in Loudoun County. He makes everyone feel welcome and heard. I have seen him working first hand with LCPS staff, fellow teachers and community members- he is an action taker! Nick trains 8th graders to become instructors, has worked to bring the Think BIG Space to Girl Scout troops, collaborated with students at Stone Bridge, trained my son, and is working with me to reach more of the community."

Heather Henderson, teacher, Willard Middle School

Nominated by Michelle Campiglia, principal

"Heather Henderson went above and beyond today to support a restorative circle. When our Dean asked for help, Heather willingly gave up her planning period to interpret for a Spanish-speaking student. Her support was instrumental in re-establishing peace between two students and ensuring that both felt heard. Muchas gracias, Heather!"

Josh Ajima, teacher, Academies of Loudoun

Nominated by Zachary Minchow-Proffitt, colleague

"Josh Ajima has shown to be a tremendous advocate for meaningful STEM and CTE education through his facilitation of the makerspace at ACL. His commitment to engaging teachers from all walks of life is invaluable to our institution. He consistently shows a remarkable ability to create integrated, deep learning experiences for all students, enhancing our learning environment in more ways than words can express. He truly deserves to be recognized for the exceptional instructional leader that he is!