The program may be considered the school division's Oscars- of excellence celebration. The Department of Human Resources sponsored recognition of the exceptional individuals serving in both instructional and operational roles.
Sponsored by Educate Fairfax, over 730 employees, including 71 finalists and 12 winners in 12 different award categories, were recognized at FCPS Honors, held at George Mason Center for the Arts.
"You navigated the unexpected with grace and inspired those around you to do the same," Dr. Scott S. Brabrand, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, said during his opening remarks at the event. "Life is unpredictable, and adaptability is a great asset to have. Instead of focusing on the difficulties, you viewed them as opportunities."
Despite the difficulties of beginning his profession during the pandemic, Matthew Fredericks, the health and physical education teacher at Hughes Middle School in Reston, had a very successful first year of teaching. Fredericks was noted as usually optimistic, calm, and eager to assist with any assignment, regardless of its size. Because he realized that students would work hard for a teacher who cares about them, a colleague noted that Fredericks "spends valuable time building relationships, by using his content to connect to students' lives."
Ellen Mukai, principal of Brookfield Elementary School in Chantilly, was awarded the Outstanding New Principal Award. Mukai began developing strong connections with students, staff, and families during the pandemic on her first day at Brookfield. As students moved from virtual to face-to-face instruction, she listened attentively and crafted solutions to satisfy their numerous needs. According to the program, leadership and educators were motivated to adopt innovative methods for enhancing student outcomes under Mukai's direction. As one teacher said, "I look forward to continuing this journey toward student success and wellness with her every day."
The Outstanding Secondary Teacher is Herndon High School Band Director Kathleen Jacoby. She has 18 years of experience teaching high school band and was described as an inclusive leader. "Jacoby teaches and supports children from many cultures, socioeconomic conditions, and backgrounds, making her curriculum accessible and welcoming to all students and their families." "Her students succeed in every measure. Kathleen is also a leader in the Virginia music community. Her varied leadership roles, conference presentations, and educational projects have created formal structures to empower, uplift, and mentor students and educators from across the Commonwealth."
The Outstanding School-Based Professional Employee is Blair Smith, Assistant Director of Student Activities at Centreville High School. In addition to his job, Smith has taken on the duties of many leadership positions within Centreville, succeeding in all of them. According to FCPS, "He truly is the glue that holds athletics and activities together." Aside from his own position, he has spent many hours establishing a collaborative atmosphere with all stakeholders to ensure student-athletes were given the time, space, support, and resources they needed to return to play safely during seasons affected by fast-changing COVID guidelines and policies. Smith cultivates ties with staff, making them feel supported and heard.
* Outstanding Elementary Teacher-Essel Linton Music Teacher Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Annandale
* Outstanding Elementary New Teacher- Shelby Megan Press Second Grade Teacher Riverside Elementary School in Alexandria
* Outstanding Secondary Teacher - Kathleen Jacoby Herndon High School Band Director in Herndon
* Outstanding New Secondary Teacher- Matthew Fredericks at Hughes Middle School in Reston
* Outstanding School-Based Professional Employee -Blair Smith, Assistant Director of Student Activities at Centreville High School in Centreville
* Outstanding Nonschool-Based Professional Employee-Rebecca Jo Pollard, Project Support Coach Willow Oaks Administrative Center in Fairfax
* Outstanding School-Based Operational Employee-Frank Sarfo Custodian I Little Run Elementary School in Fairfax
* Outstanding Nonschool-Based Operational Employee-Cassandra Ann Allen, Transportation Instructor Forte Center in Springfield
Outstanding School-Based Leader-Bianca Aiello Director of Student Services
Poe Middle School in Annandale
Outstanding Nonschool-Based Leader-Melissa Russell Director II, Payroll Management Gatehouse Administrative Center in Falls Church
An FCPS spokesperson said they would make a full video of the event available on YouTube on June 15. Google "FCPS Honors 2022." For a complete list of all Outstanding Awardees, Finalists, and School Recipients, visit the 2022 FCPS Honors Program at https://www.fcps.edu/sites/default/files/media/pdf/2022-fcps-honors-program.pdf.