Inspirational Stories

Jackie Castellano, teacher, Sanders Corner Elementary School

Nominated by Megan Cliett, parent

"I wanted to highlight Mrs. Castellano from Sanders Corner. Her 2nd grade class has been amazing for our daughter, who has had a rough 2 years adjusting to elementary school and navigating friendships. I am so thankful for Mrs. Castellano, she has made such a wonderful relationship with our daughter and cares so much. When she didn't have a twin for twin day, our daughter was so excited that she wanted to twin with her. She allows her to express herself and gives her the perfect amount of structure to help her strong-willed personality. When we had assessments started, she took the time out of her planning period to explain the process and went out of her way to make sure that she gets the proper assistance for next school year. I can't say enough good things about her and our daughter loves her very much! I'm happy that my daughter finally looks forward to going to school and even when they have disagreements, Mrs. Castellano gives her an explanation she not only understands, but she also spends the time to talk through it with her. When our daughter makes progress in a subject or with friends, she is the first to praise her! I wanted to nominate her for all the help she has provided our daughter this year. She is an amazing teacher, and we will miss her next year!"

Nellie Adams, dean, Hutchison Farm Elementary School

Nominated by Ashley Rush and Chelsea Garnsey, teacher

"Nellie Adams consistently goes above and beyond to support the students and staff at Hutchison Farm Elementary. She knows every student’s name and will take the time to have a conversation just to check in on their well-being. She is always visible around the building and available to answer questions. She provides support to teachers in anything that we need, whether it is just being willing to listen or to help solve a problem. She is always willing to lend her time and help out when needed, no matter how big or small the task. She has even helped to pin balloons around the room to prepare for a fun student event! Nellie makes a difficult job more manageable just by being there. She goes above and beyond her duties."

Morgan Palombi, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Payton Leurs, student

"Ms. Palombi has always made science a safe place and makes every class fun. When we learn about new things, she tries to make us learn in new ways and it has grown my study habits. I will always be grateful for Ms. Palombi and know that she has made an impact on me and will make an impact on her future students."

 Frank Appiah Kubi, teacher assistant, Brambleton Middle School

Nominated by Max Linton, student

"He is always so nice and he has been such a great person to me."

 Ashley Sherrill, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Patty Yeboah, student

"I would like to nominate Ms. Sherrill. She is usually very calm, but every once in a while she always makes me laugh. She is very helpful and makes science very easy for me. Because of everything she has done for me, I have been able to end the 4th quarter with an A in her class. I am very grateful for all ways she has helped me reach this goal of mine. Go Ms. Sherrill."

Cyndy Amrhein, teacher, Sanders Corner Elementary School

Nominated by Sonia Lorenz, parent

"Ms. Amrhien leads the safety patrols and has done so at least since my son was in kindergarten (3 years). For the past 3 years, the safety patrols in the car loop are ALWAYS kind, helpful, and professional. We have good kids, but they are still kids and it is remarkable how they have consistently been so awesome over the past 3 years (each year being a different group of kids). This can only be attributed to the incredible leadership of Ms. Amrhien. Thank you for being such a strong leader and for teaching the safety patrols how to consistently be reliable leaders. Parents see the great work you do and we are grateful!"

Lori Reemts, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Sophia McCue, student

"Mrs. Reemts is a wonderful history teacher! Mrs. Reemts always makes her lessons fun and memorable! Her different teaching techniques cater to all students. Mrs. Reemts's room is a safe space for all students, no matter what! She doesn't tolerate bullying or slander at all, and that just makes her more of a super star. Mrs. Reemts greets all students with a good morning or good afternoon. Overall, Mrs.Reemts is a wonderful history teacher and is more than I ever could have asked for in my first year here at Trailside! And remember, today is a good day to have a good day!"

Michele Song, teacher, J. Lupton Simpson Middle School

Nominated by Tiernan Weber, student and Rihannah, student

Rihanna: Ms. Song has always tried her best to teach all of her classes and keep them under control. She cares for them equally and is unbiased towards students, even when they get on her last nerve and annoy her! At the end of the day, Ms. Song cares for everyone.

Tiernan:  Mrs. Song is an amazing teacher. She is always kind and awesome!


Terri Colbert, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Jad Ahmado, student

"My coding teacher Mrs. Colbert is one of the best and most memorable teachers I've had in all my school years. She has given me dozens of opportunities to better myself, while helping me in dozens of ways. Without her I'd be clueless about a lot of stuff happening in school. She's somebody I can always rely on with questions about school, or my life in general. So thank you Mrs. Colbert, you're a great teacher."

Jeannine Everett, librarian, J. Lupton Simpson Middle School

Nominated by Tiernan Weber, student

"Mrs. Everett was always kind and helpful. She also makes you feel good about yourself. I don't normally read, but Mrs. Everett made me want to read more."

Steven Welti, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Patty Yeboah, student

"I would like to nominate Mr. Welti. He is very kind helpful and funny. Even though I moved to the ICA course I have always wanted to come back to his class. I didn't think art was going to be nice this year, but because of Mr. Welti I have enjoyed it more than ever. Go Mr. Welti!"

Cortney Lanigan, teacher, Sanders Corner Elementary School

Nominated by Ayesha Arif, long term substitute

"She worked so hard during the year to help a student start communicating in English. This student did not speak a word and mostly talked in gestures and used English translation apps to communicate, but with the help and support of Mrs. Lanigan's lessons and tremendous encouragement, this student started speaking in fluent English. The student was very shy and didn't make any efforts to speak, mainly because she was struggling to find the right words and didn't know much English. Mrs. Lanigan has not only helped her to speak English, but also helped her tremendously to boost her confidence and self-esteem."

Janie Lyman, teacher, Round Hill Elementary School

Nominated by Eric and Katie Kursman

"I want to recognize Mrs. Lyman, my first grade teacher from last year, for helping me to like school again by giving me things that would challenge me and for showing me I’m important. Even though I am not in her class this year, she still hugs me every morning and even comes to baseball tournaments and fundraisers. She has always been encouraging and sweet to me. She cares enough to ask how I am doing and what has been happening around my house. On my little sister's first day of kindergarten, she went into her class to check on her to see how she was doing. These are just some of the things that she has done for me. We called her Rhymin’ Lyman because she was always making up different rhymes. Sometimes it was for us to remember things that she taught us, and sometimes it was just for her to be silly! It felt very special to think that she went out of her way to come to tournaments and fundraisers. Sometimes she just wrote little notes on my school work or put them in my folder. At the start of the school year, Mrs. Lyman didn't have a lot of books at my level in her classroom, so she went into a basement and got books from boxes that she had stored away from when she taught third grade. At the end of kindergarten, I wanted to be home-schooled, but by the end of first grade, I couldn’t imagine having to leave Mrs. Lyman. She was so nice to me. I loved her from the start. She even inspired me to want to become a first grade teacher myself someday. She did very fun things with me and my class and always had great ideas. I was very emotional on the last day of first grade because it had been such a good school year! I couldn't think of a better person to nominate than Mrs. Lyman with her nice smile and creative brain."

Christopher Painter, principal, Discovery Elementary School

Nominated by Paul Pack, principal, Liberty Elementary School

"I would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation and recognition to Chris Painter, Principal of Discovery Elementary, for the remarkable compassion and warmth he demonstrated following the tragic passing of firefighter Trevor Brown in the March house explosion in Loudoun County. Chris's leadership during this heart-wrenching time has been a testament to his deep commitment to his community and the well-being of those he serves. By organizing fundraisers and ensuring that staff members could attend Trevor's funeral and ceremony, Chris provided crucial support and solidarity. His thoughtful decision to have Mr. Brown's children's teachers accompany them at the funeral so they wouldn't face the moment alone is a profound reflection of his empathy and dedication. Chris Painter's actions have shown that being a school principal is far more than overseeing a building; it is about leading with heart, supporting his people, and standing by his community in their times of need. "

 Jeff Ludtke, teacher, Trailside Middle School

Nominated by Safir Haidari, student and Aaron, student

"Mr. Ludtke is by far the best math teacher I have ever had. He is an excellent teacher which always devotes himself towards the education of his students and ensuring they understand the material. During SOL season, pressure really comes down on teachers, especially ones who teach core classes - like Mr. Luds, but he does it with a smile on his face and admirable perseverance. Mr. Luds is funny, respectful, and is a teacher who believes pursuit of education is one of the most important things for his students. He is always willing to help at a moment's notice, and responds to emails very quickly! In my personal experience, Mr. Luds has always been a wonderful educator, and has always been happy to assist me if I didn't understand a certain part of the unit we're learning. As my time here comes to an end, I believe saying goodbye to him will be very bittersweet."

"Mr. Ludtke is a great math teacher and COMPASS teacher. He always goes out of his way to make the class understand; he teaches math so well that everybody knows everything. He uses emotion and love to teach us, and I think that he makes me feel cared for and he always calls on me quickly when I have a question. Thank you, Mr Ludtke, for being my favorite teacher."


Jamie Stolz, teacher, Meadowland Elementary School

Nominated by Lora Buckman, colleague 

"Jamie Stolz is so well prepared and pushes herself academically getting her masters degree in reading and implementing the learning at our team meetings. She is calm and fosters a learning atmosphere conducive to positive, fun, and academic learning. She and her co-teacher plan fabulous lessons incorporating the standards so that the students accomplish their goals."

Ray Lemp, teacher, Buffalo Trail Elementary School

Nominated by Michelle Watson, colleague 

"On a chilly morning, the school parking lot buzzed with activity. Parents lined up in their cars, eager to drop off their children before the first bell. But that day, fate had other plans. As the line of cars inched forward, a sudden screech of brakes echoed through the air. A collision had occurred just outside the school. Panic rippled through the waiting parents as they watched emergency vehicles arrive at the scene. The road was blocked, and chaos threatened to disrupt the entire drop-off process. Amidst the chaos, Mr. Lemp, a seasoned teacher known for his unwavering dedication, sprang into action. He knew he had to act swiftly. Here’s how he helped- Traffic Control: Mr. Lemp dashed outside, directed parents through the intersection ensuring the area remained clear for emergency vehicles. His authoritative gestures kept the traffic flowing smoothly, despite the tension in the air. Comforting Students: Some children had seen the accident unfold. Their eyes widened with fear as they clung to their backpacks. Mr. Lemp made sure students walking were safe and he focused on getting them safely inside. Assisting Emergency Responders: As paramedics worked with the injured drivers from the wreckage, Mr. Adams coordinated with them. His knowledge of the school’s emergency procedures proved invaluable. The school community would forever remember Mr. Lemp as the hero who turned chaos into calm. Mr. Lemp's action while ensuring everyone’s safety during a crisis exemplified the true spirit of education."

 Jennifer Cheplick, administrative assistant, Smarts Mill Middle School

Nominated by Jo Anna Quinn, substitute

"I started site-based subbing at Smarts Mill Middle this year and met Mrs. Jennifer Cheplick. She is the glue that keeps Smarts Mill together. Mrs. Cheplick coordinates the substitutes for the school. Don't know how she has the ability to coordinate all the schedules. She is awesome. She stands behind her subs. She is one of the reasons why I want to continue to be an on-site sub at this school."