A social studies teacher from Wakefield High School will be Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year after winning the state’s Teacher of the Year award Monday night.
Michelle Cottrell-Williams was named Virginia Teacher of the Year on September 18 at a ceremony in Richmond. She was one of eight regional winners in the Commonwealth, and was selected for the state prize after being interviewed by a committee.
She was joined at the ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board chair Barbara Kanninen and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples announced her as the winner.
Cottrell-Williams will join her counterparts at the National Teacher of the Year award ceremony at the White House this spring, when the national winner will be announced.
More from a Virginia Department of Education press release:
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield High in Arlington County, was named 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year Monday evening during a recognition ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. Cottrell-Williams was selected from eight regional winners announced last week and will be the commonwealth’s nominee for 2018 National Teacher of the Year.
Cottrell-Williams, the Region 4 Teacher of the Year, was selected as the state’s top teacher after being interviewed by a committee that included representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community, and 2017 Virginia Teacher of the Year Toney Lee McNair Jr. of Chesapeake. The selection of Cottrell-Williams was announced by Secretary of Education Dietra Y. Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.
Cottrell-Williams is a 11-year veteran of the classroom as a social studies teacher for grades 9-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
The other seven 2018 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year, who were also honored during the ceremony, are as follows:
- Greenlee B. Naughton, an English teacher at Highland Springs High in Henrico County (Region 1)
- Theresa A. Guthrie Goltermann, a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) electives teacher at Tabb Middle in York County (Region 2)
- Sarah M. Adamson-Mair, a kindergarten teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Caroline County (Region 3)
- Russell T. Jennings, an agriculture teacher at Fluvanna County High in Fluvanna County (Region 5)
- Karey A. Henzey, a special education teacher at West Salem Elementary in Salem (Region 6)
- Chrystle M. Gates, a music teacher at Chilhowie Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
- Tiffany W. Lynch, an English teacher at Park View High in Mecklenburg County (Region 8)
As the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Cottrell-Williams received a $5,000 award and a commemorative ring from the Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation; a $2,500 award from Richmond law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen; a $1,000 award from Dominion Resources Services Inc.; a teacher membership from VMFA; educational opportunities from several public and private colleges and universities; a three-year SMART Learning Suite subscription from SMART Technologies UCL; flowers from Coleman Brothers Flowers Inc.; an engraved plaque from Bunkie Trinite Trophies Inc.; a gift basket from C.F. Sauer Co.; overnight accommodations at the Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown; and an engraved crystal apple.
The 2018 National Teacher of the Year will be announced next spring at a White House ceremony. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teacher of the Year.
A teacher at Wakefield High School is a finalist for the Virginia Teacher of the Year award after a surprise announcement this morning (Monday).
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield, learned of the recognition from Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who presented her with a certificate and flowers during a sociology class. McAuliffe was joined by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board members and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore.
Cottrell-Williams is one of eight teachers in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year. She represents educational Region 4, which comprises various cities and counties in Northern Virginia.
She is the first regional finalist from Arlington since Colette Fraley, another Wakefield social studies teacher, in 2010. Cottrell-Williams is already Arlington Teacher of the Year, having been nominated by Lisa Labella, Wakefield’s senior project coordinator.
“I’m speechless,” Cottrell-Williams said after the announcement. “Dr. Willmore walked in, said he had to interrupt for a minute, OK. People just kept coming and coming and coming, and I have no words. This is incredible. I feel like I’ve just been me, and to be recognized, that other people recognize that what I’m doing matters, is pretty amazing.”
Cottrell-Williams has taught at Wakefield for 10 years, and is the lead classroom teacher of World History II, U.S. and Virginia Government, AP European History, Sociology and senior project classes.
She has been recognized for her dynamic lesson plans that use various strategies and methods to help students learn as well as her commitment to professional development for her fellow teachers.
“In my other classes I’ve been asked to come up with projects and ways to rethink education,” senior Alex Pearson said. “I feel like Ms. Cottrell does that. She’s a teacher that makes class fun, and I feel like we’re going to learn a lot of things.”
“I think it says a lot about Ms. Cottrell,” senior Ana Sofia Uro-DeLeon said. “We haven’t even started our classes yet, and she’s already getting an award and everything. It shows that she really does care about the students and the individual, not just the statistics and our grades.”
McAuliffe said with budgetary pressures weighing on public school districts across Virginia, recognizing teachers when they are so dedicated is important.
“She’s so dedicated to her students, but also dedicated to her peers and to her colleagues, her fellow teachers and making sure that professional development opportunities are there so they can further their craft of teaching,” McAuliffe said. “That’s really so important, to make sure that teachers have the support they need in everything to do.”
Cottrell-Williams will join her fellow finalists in Richmond on Monday, September 18, where they will go through a series of interviews before the awards banquet that evening. Cottrell-Williams said that whether she wins or not will not change the fact that her most important interactions are with her students each day.
“It’s about the students, it’s not about whatever accolades I get,” she said. “It would be nice to have a broader platform to share with other teachers how I have found success with my students, how I interact with them, how I’ve really grown to like what I do because of the relationships I get to build with these students. But at the end of the day, I’m still here in the classroom with them whether or not I have an award.”
Man Struck By Car Near Ballston Metro — A man was struck by a vehicle on Fairfax Drive near the Ballston Metro station yesterday. The incident happened between 5-5:30 p.m. Numerous witnesses immediately called 911 or rushed to the man’s aid. His injuries were reported to be not life threatening. [Twitter, Twitter]
Driverless Car Research Is Legal in Va. — Virginia law does not explicitly ban the kind of “driverless” car research conducted by Virginia Tech on the streets of Clarendon and Courthouse. While the Virginia Tech van was driven by a man in a seat costume, it is also legal to test legitimately self-driving cars in the Commonwealth. [NBC Washington]
Video: Weekend Apartment Fire — The Arlington County Fire Department has posted video of the apartment fire on Columbia Pike over the weekend. A 27-year-old man was arrested and now faces numerous charges in connection with the blaze. [Facebook]
Courthouse-Based Nonprofit Up For National Award – The Organization for Autism Research is one of 15 finalists in the country for a $50,000 prize that recognizes “innovative ideas for engaging people over 50 in improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth.” OAR, based in Courthouse, launched its Hire Autism initiative earlier this year, an online portal to connect adults with autism seeking work and potential employers. Online voting is open through August 31. [Hire Autism]
Nearby: McLean Residents Want New Potomac Span — Civic leaders in McLean are pressuring officials to expedite a new American Legion Bridge span across the Potomac River. The existing bridge is clogged with Beltway traffic, sending congestion onto local streets, residents say. There is an existing proposal to extend Beltway High Occupancy Toll lanes between the Legion bridge and the I-270 spur in Maryland. [InsideNova]
(Updated 11 a.m.) Wakefield High School students Anna Tiernan and Kate Williams won the Alex and Ani Friendship of the Year Award at the 28th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana earlier this month.
Tiernan and Williams were nominated by the program’s Capitol Region director and campaigned heavily for the competition. The duo earned votes from across the country for their efforts and were announced as winners live at the conference, which took place July 21-24 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities that for “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The pair’s nomination explained why they were well-suited for the award:
Anna’s and Kate’s friendship is truly genuine and exemplary of the Best Buddies mission; they are true equals and friends. They support each other’s interests – from Anna’s love of music to Kate’s involvement in school plays. They were highlighted on the local news as they prepared for their Prom together. They are always the first to start a party and the last to leave; from sporting events, karaoke outings, dance parties, and more, it is clear these two friends love to have fun and love each other!
Tiernan and Williams live a few houses away from each other, and have been able to develop a friendship with movie nights while also helping build the Best Buddies organization in their community. The pair were featured on Fox 5 last month when they were promoting the annual Best Buddies Prom.
Williams, who is the president of the Wakefield chapter, said she can see the impact of the Best Buddies program in the school.
“I think there are a lot more kids that recognize the students in the special needs classes,” said Williams.
Tiernan, who graduated from Wakefield this past June, says she enjoys her unique friendship with Williams. She said she is also looking forward to the organization’s Friendship Walk on October 21, hosted by local radio host Tommy McFly.
“I just want to be in a video with him,” said Tiernan, who said the walk is one of her favorite Best Buddies events.
Best Buddies partnered with jewelry company Alex and Ani, the sponsor of the awards, in 2015. Last year, Best Buddies was one of two charities that benefited from the sales of the Liberty Copper Carry Light line, and currently benefits a portion of the proceeds from the Arrows of Friendship Charm Bangle.
The award recognizes the use of technology in areas of open government, transparency, citizen engagement, cyber security and operations. Arlington was the winner among counties with a population of 150,000-249,999 people.
Its open government program won recognition for its work using technology to make government transactions, planning and decision-making more accessible and transparent. The program introduced an app this year allowing access to the Arlington Public Library catalog, and helped establish an Open Data Advisory Group that uses data-driven analysis to inform policy.
The county also received credit for live-streaming County Board meetings, work sessions and some commission meetings as part of the open government program.
The award recognized the Department of Technology’s “Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny Campaign,” which hosts a series of public discussions with residents, businesses and industry leaders to explore how Arlington can use technology to enhance the quality of life for all.
The county’s dark fiber network, ConnectArlington, also received credit for supporting government operations and links to Arlington Public Schools, along with its expansion to include Arlington businesses. The network initially linked all county and APS facilities with high-speed broadband.
“This award acknowledges not only the county’s commitment to open, accessible and transparent government and to encouraging engagement, but also the creativity and hard work of a county staff that is innovative in its approach to digital services,” Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement.
County representatives will be presented with the award at the National Association of Counties’ annual conference on Saturday (July 22) in Columbus, Ohio.
Home Demolition Stats — So far in 2017, there have been 66 demolition permits for single-family homes applied for in Arlington, according to the group Preservation Arlington. Twenty-two permits were applied for in May alone. [Preservation Arlington]
Linden Combining With Melwood — Arlington-based Linden Resources is linking up with Maryland-based Melwood “to create one of the largest regionally focused nonprofits with more than $100 million in joint revenue.” The organizations provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. [Washington Business Journal]
Best of Ballston Awards — Cybraics, a company focused on fighting cybercrime, won the Innovation Award at the inaugural Best of Ballston Awards last week. [Ballston BID]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Board Approves Construction Contracts — The Arlington County Board approved three construction projects at its meeting this past Saturday, including contracts to improve safety at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Park Drive, to improve safety along the W&OD and Custis trails, and to repair three bridges in Rosslyn. [Arlington County]
Feds to Help Fund Arlington Art Truck — Arlington County’s arts truck has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The truck, which received $70,000 in funding from the county last year, “aims to both expand community access to art and to diversify public engagement.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Treasurer Wins State Award — Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava received the 2017 President’s Award from the Treasurers’ Association of Virginia at its annual conference in Virginia Beach. It’s the first such recognition for an Arlington County treasurer. One measure of a treasurer’s job effectiveness is the tax delinquency rate; last year Arlington’s rate was 0.24 percent, an all-time local low and the lowest in Virginia. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Criticism of School Drug Searches — The Arlington School Board last week heard public criticism of a new initiative to conduct K-9 drug searches after hours at Arlington’s public high schools. Despite talk of a drug problem in local schools, one activist said of the K-9 plan: “I don’t think it is reasonable.” [InsideNova]
Economic Segregation at APS — Arlington Public Schools is just below the threshold of “hypersegregation” in a new study of de facto economic segregation in public schools. Neighboring districts like Alexandria and Fairfax score well below Arlington on the “hypersegregation index,” though Prince William scores just above Arlington and is above the level considered hypersegregation. [Center for American Progress]
County Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s 2017 Women of Vision honorees have been announced: emergency preparedness advocate Jackie Snelling, Washington Business Journal Editor-at-Large Jennifer Nycz-Conner and La Cocina VA founder and CEO Patricia Funegra. Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women also honored former Arlington School Board member Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez with a lifetime achievement award. [Arlington County]
Backyard Chickens Blamed for Salmonella — There have been eight salmonella outbreaks sickening more than 370 people this year due to contact with backyard or pet poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Arlington, backyard chickens are legal for only a handful of residents with very large backyards. In 2013, after dueling lobbying campaigns by chicken enthusiasts and opponents, Arlington’s county manager recommended against allowing more residents to keep egg-laying hens. [Washington Post]
Delta Experimenting With Biometrics at DCA — Delta is experimenting with a biometric identification system at Reagan National Airport. For now, the system is only being used by members of both CLEAR and Delta’s Skymiles program to enter the airline’s Sky Club lounge. If all goes well, in Phase 2 members will also be able to use their fingerprint to check a bag and board a flight. [Delta]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Almost 200 people gathered May 2 for the awards, which are presented to area businesses for their customer service, industry leadership, growth or stability over the lifetime of their business and interest in the success of the Arlington community.
This year’s winners, by category, were:
CNA – 2017 Business of the Year
Hyatt Centric Arlington – 2017 Business of the Year
Beach Geeks, Inc. – 2017 Technology Small Business of the Year
Current Boutique – 2017 Retail Small Business of the Year
Child Care Aware of America – 2017 Nonprofit of the Year
Wolcott Hill Group – 2017 Home-Based Business of the Year
Clarendon Animal Care – 2017 Service Small Business of the Year
“Our community depends upon the businesses that go above and beyond for clients, employees, and the community, and these seven businesses exemplify that kind of dedication,” said Chamber president & CEO Kate Bates in a statement. “We are proud to present this year’s winners with these well-deserved awards and thank all of them for their continued investment in Arlington.”
The Chamber also inducted John Milliken and Richard Doud, Jr. into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame, which honors men and women who have demonstrated a long record of successful management, expertise, and business skills. Milliken is a former County Board member, while Doud served as Chamber president for 23 years.
“John and Rich are the true definition of what it means to be an Arlington legacy,” Bates said. “Their many important accomplishments and efforts to support and advocate on behalf of local business have helped make Arlington the place it is today. It is an honor to induct both of these outstanding community leaders into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.”
Photos via Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Vihstadt Wants Ads Atop Aquatics Center — County government could raise some extra money by placing corporate logos atop the future Long Bridge Park aquatics center, which could be seen by those flying in and out of Reagan National Airport, says County Board member John Vihstadt. He is also pushing the idea of ads on ART buses, transit stops and Capital Bikeshare stations. [InsideNova]
Pupatella Named Best Pizza in Va. — The expanding Pupatella Pizza has been named the best pizza in Virginia again, this time by USA Today. The Bluemont pizzeria will celebrate its seventh anniversary on Saturday. [USA Today]
Plaudits for The Bartlett — The Bartlett, an amenity-filled, 699-unit apartment tower in Pentagon City, has been named the year’s best residential project by the Washington Business Journal. The building, the design of which was “inspired by buildings in New York City,” leased up so quickly that plans for a “pop-up hotel” utilizing vacant units had to be pulled back. [Washington Business Journal]
Pebley Recognized for Civic Leadership — Jim Pebley was honored with a resolution of thanks from the Arlington County Republican Committee this past Wednesday. Pebley, who never ran for office but has a long resume of civic service in Arlington, is retiring to North Carolina this summer. “It is safe to say Jim Pebley is one of the most active citizens in Arlington, and has been for decades,” said one well-wisher. “[He is] extremely well-respected across the political spectrum.” [InsideNova]
Condo Resident Opposes VRE Expansion — In a WaPo op-ed, a condo resident who lives next to the VRE station in Crystal City says he opposes the planned expansion of the station because it will “will mar our precious green space” and “derail the lives of Crystal City residents through more noise and possible destruction of property during station construction.” [Washington Post]
Nearby: Threats to Falls Church Abortion Clinic — A building housing an abortion clinic in Falls Church was evacuated twice yesterday due to perceived threats. In the first instance, someone set off fireworks in the building’s elevator; in the second, someone stamped the word “bomb” on pieces of paper found near the rear entrance. An Arlington County Police K-9 unit assisted with the investigation “because F.C. police’s own K-9 unit is still in training.” [Falls Church News-Press, DCist]
How to Fix a “Stuck” Homepage — A few users have been reporting that our homepage has been “stuck” for the past few weeks, frozen in time after March 31. This is a browser caching issue that is affecting a very small subset of users. To resolve it, press the “refresh” button on your browser.
Park Volunteers to Be Honored — Two Arlington residents will be recognized as “outstanding park volunteers” at tonight’s Arlington County Board meeting. This year’s honorees are Paul Holland and Yu-hsin Hsu. [Arlington County]
Two Added to Business Hall of Fame — Attorney and former County Board member John Milliken and former Arlington Chamber of Commerce president Rich Doud are being inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame on May 2. [InsideNova]
Video: Morning Activity at Trades Center — A time-lapse video shows the bustle of early morning activity at the Arlington Trades Center near Shirlington, where the county’s school buses and maintenance crews are based. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Numerous county businesses have been selected for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s annual Best Business Awards, set for next week.
The awards recognize businesses that go above and beyond to serve their clients and make the county a great place to live and work. Businesses earn the awards through good customer service, if they are industry leaders or offer a unique approach, or if they are active in the community.
This year, the awards will be given out on May 2 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Rosslyn. A VIP past winners reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the main ceremony at 7 p.m.
The finalists by category are:
Large Business Award (General)
The “mystery” of who will be honored as the Arlington County law enforcement officer of the year will be solved Thursday, May 4, during the annual award presentation luncheon sponsored Arlington County Crime Solvers.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony at the Salsa Room, 2619 Columbia Pike, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) will deliver the keynote speech. Arlington Sheriff Chief Deputy Paul Larson, Police Chief Jay Farr and other county officials will speak on community-police relations and the effort to join forces in fighting crime.
Chief Deputy Larson and Chief Farr will present the two Law Enforcement Recognition Awards to the Arlington County law enforcement officers chosen by the Crime Solvers as those who have made significant contributions to making Arlingtonians safe.
“I believe the ACCS can foster a strong relationship with the local community and law enforcement by bringing us together each year and saying ‘thank you’ to those who risk their lives everyday to protect our safety,” said Andres Tobar, ACCS president and executive director of the Shirlington Employment & Education Center.
This is the fifth time the Crime Solvers have honored Arlington’s law enforcement with a ceremony and lunch. This year is the first time for the presentation of a new award, given to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, to a community organization that best represents community-law enforcement relations.
In addition, Richard V. Doud, Jr., the founding president of the Arlington County Crime Solvers chapter, will also be recognized with a special award.
Arlington County Crime Solvers maintains a volunteer-operated, 24-hour tips line for anonymous callers to report crimes and wanted persons. Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are offered to those who provide information leading to arrest or the recovery of drugs or stolen property. The number is 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Three first responders who braved dangerous conditions during significant fires received top honors at today’s Arlington County Fire Department Recognition and Awards Ceremony.
ACFD’s highest level of recognition is the Medal of Valor-Gold, which honors a member of the fire department who performs an act of valor or heroism in life threatening conditions while trying to save another person. Firefighter/EMT Chad Aldridge received the award for his attempts to rescue two people trapped in a 2014 house fire in Nauck. Aldridge escaped the deadly blaze with first- and second-degree burns, which he sustained when a flashover occurred.
Lt. Fred Kawatsky and firefighter/EMT Jason Updyke received the Medal of Valor-Silver for performing acts that involve great personal risk. They assisted with rescuing victims at a 2014 apartment fire near Columbia Pike. The two moved a wheelchair-bound victim to a safer place inside the smoke-filled building and provided medical care when the person stopped breathing.
Fire Chief James Bonzano and Deputy Chief John Warren presented these and other awards. A total of 23 awards were given to both uniformed and non-uniformed members of the fire department, an Arlington police officer, an Emergency Communications Center dispatcher and three civilians.
Baba Now Open — Baba, the comfy bar and cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, is now open after some unexpected delays. The “big draw” of Baba, according to the Post’s Maura Judkis, is its made-from-scratch cocktails. [Washington Post]
Ballston Wi-Fi to Launch Today — The “BLinked” gigabit wi-fi service in Ballston is expected to launch today. The free service will offer a high-speed and seamless internet connection throughout public spaces in Ballston. [Twitter]
Signature Theatre 2017-18 Season Announced — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has announced the lineup for its 2017-18 season, with eight marquee shows and six short-run cabarets. [Signature Theatre]
Reminder: Storm Drains Empty to Waterways — “Our local waterways literally go with the flow. That means rain water heads into nearby storm drains and then quickly ends up in local streams like Four Mile Run. Those streams flow into the Potomac River, the source for much of the region’s drinking water.” [Arlington County]
Obit: William Coleman — William T. Coleman, Jr., a civil rights lawyer and cabinet member who broke racial barriers, has died. Coleman is noted in Arlington for his role, as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in authorizing the controversial construction of I-66 inside the Beltway. [NBC News]
Arlington Players Rack Up WATCH Awards — The Arlington Players have received seven Washington Area Theatre Community Honors awards, tying an Alexandria theater company for the highest award total of 2017. [InsideNova]
Hat tip to Eric Dobson. Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley