LCPS Announces Teachers and Principals of the Year

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) selected two Teachers of the Year and two Principals of the Year to continue to participate in the Washington Post program while emphasizing the prestige of being named the Loudoun County Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year. By shifting timelines and criteria, LCPS ensures that staff are esteemed, exemplary, and supported, while keeping the division focused on enhancing and streamlining its awards practices.

The Teacher of the Year Award is based upon the criteria of instilling in students a desire to achieve, fostering strong relationships with students and the community, demonstrating outstanding leadership, and contributing to the highest standards of education. This year, there were 58 teachers nominated, the most submissions LCPS has ever received. This year’s winners are Kimberly Poole of J.L. Simpson Middle School and Andrew Bango of Arcola Elementary School.

Kimberly Poole, a CTE teacher at J.L. Simpson Middle School, has been selected as the Loudoun County Teacher of the Year. Ms. Poole holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree from Shenandoah University.  She was hired by LCPS in 1995 and has spent her entire 29-year career at Simpson Middle School, where she has taught English and Introduction to Computer Applications.

In a letter of recommendation, members of the J.L. Simpson Middle School community submitted the following remarks in support of Ms. Poole’s nomination:  “Kimberly Poole shines at the helm of our Intro to Computer Applications program as illuminated by her passion in working with each and every 6th grader as they learn how to successfully incorporate technology among their interdisciplinary learning experiences. Mrs. Poole's heartfelt dedication to the Simpson community extends back nearly thirty years and represents a continuously immense impact on so many students both present, past, and future that is truly unmatched by many in our profession.”

Andrew Bango, physical education teacher at Arcola Elementary School, has been selected as Loudoun County Teacher of the Year and the LCPS nominee for the 2024 Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award. Mr. Bango holds a bachelor’s degree from Campbell University and was hired as a PE teacher at Arcola Elementary School in 2011. In addition to teaching, he coached wrestling at Tuscarora High School for ten years, winning multiple titles including a state championship.

In a letter of recommendation, members of the Arcola Elementary School community submitted the following remarks in support of Mr. Bango’s nomination: “Coach Bango nurtures positive growth mindsets for students where they can learn, feel valued and grow as individuals. He inspires students to step outside their comfort zones to try new activities and become part of the larger team/community.”

The Principal of the Year Award is based on the criteria of leadership excellence, collaboration, listening, lifelong learning, and creating an environment in which students and staff can flourish and grow. This year’s winners are Nikisha Diehl of Mercer Middle School and Jeffrey Joseph of Dominion Trail Elementary School.

Nikisha Diehl, Principal of Mercer Middle School, has been selected as Loudoun County Principal of the Year and the LCPS nominee for the Washington Post Principal of the Year Award. Ms. Diehl holds a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a master’s degree from Shenandoah University. This is her fourteenth year in LCPS. Ms. Diehl has been the principal of Mercer since 2019. She also served as Assistant Principal of River Bend Middle School and dean at Smart’s Mill Middle School.

Her staff writes of her, “Under Nikisha's leadership, our school has become a model of a collaborative culture, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration among teachers, promoting professional development, and initiating community involvement. Collaboration is ingrained in our daily practices, with every staff member having a voice and being an integral part of our instructional team. This is clear through the development of the master schedule, which ensures common learning teams and interdisciplinary teams have time to collaborate. She supports this collaboration by attending these meetings and asking critical questions that deepen team members’ thinking and promote reflection.”

Mr. Jeff Joseph has been an educator and administrator at Loudoun County Public Schools for over 23 years. Mr. Joseph currently serves as principal of Dominion Trail Elementary School in Ashburn, VA, a role where he has fostered growth for the community over the past 10 years. Mr. Joseph earned his MEd from Shenandoah University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

“The biggest change he made was treating his staff as family, creating a trusting and loving environment,” described an educator. “He believes that when our basic needs are met, we are better able to focus on academics.” Mr. Joseph has a passion for building a strong, supportive learning environment where the student’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being are vital — thereby creating an opportunity for students “to realize their full potential,” observed a former student. Mr. Joseph has successfully established a culture of transparency that has significantly enhanced collaboration and trust within the school community. A former parent remarked, “It was clear to me that this principal was extremely mindful of making experiences impact the students, teachers, and parents in a way that could grow the school into a tightly knit community.”

Published April 24, 2024