News & Event
(RICHMOND, VA) – The Community Foundation and the R.E.B. Foundation recognize 30 outstanding public school teachers selected as finalists for the 2016 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. Considered among the best in their field, these exceptional instructors demonstrate a sincere passion for teaching while also serving as mentors, coaches and champions for their students. Selected from 102 nominations submitted by students, parents and colleagues, 17 winners and 13 finalists will receive cash grants totaling $185,850.
This year’s awards are bittersweet with the recent loss of the program’s benefactor, Rudy Bunzl. Together with his wife Esther, Rudy was a faithful champion for public education and believed that strong teachers are pivotal to its success. The R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence is among their most notable and continuous contributions in philanthropy, distributing $3.4 million in professional development grants to over 740 public school teachers since 1988.
“The Bunzls have touched countless lives through this unique program,” said Sherrie Armstrong, President and CEO of The Community Foundation. “In a profession that is often under-recognized, their vision has made dreams come true. By gifting opportunities of a lifetime through travel or continued education, teachers return to the classroom with innovative ideas and a renewed sense of energy that inspires both their students and fellow educators.”
This year’s recipients will build on the lasting legacy of Rudy and Esther Bunzl. Connected by a desire to make their lessons relevant, all of the 2016 awardees will have a chance to collect real-life experiences, stories and artifacts to refuel their passion for teaching and enhance their ability to bring subject matter to life for their students.
Hanover County Winners
LIST OF 2016 WINNERS
Sarah Anzelmo-Steele, Lucille Brown Middle School (RI)
$11,000 to explore the classic tale, Anne of Green Gables, including a visit to Poland where Anne played a significant role in the Polish Resistance.
Whitney Wells-Cornfield, John M. Grandy Elementary (HA)
$10,500 to explore the rich culture and landscape of New Zealand while capturing images of fractals for use in math and science lessons.
Mindy Dobrinski, Holman Middle School (HE)
$11,000 to explore the diverse climates, cuisines, and cultures of the four corners of the United States.
Alfonso J. Favale, Springfield Park Elementary (HE)
$8,000 to create a series of videos that compare and contrast the cultures, landscapes and ecologies of Alaska and Hawaii.
Tiffany Floyd, James H. Blackwell Elementary School (RI)
$12,000 to travel to Finland during the winter season.
Lisa Grossman, Maude Trevvett Elementary School (HE)
$8,000 to explore of the furthest corners of Virginia – from Williamsburg to the Eastern Shore, Northern Virginia to the Valley, the small towns of Southwestern Virginia and beyond.
Micheal Harvey, Chesterfield Career and Technical Center (CH)
$9,800 to learn about alternative and emerging energy sources through visits to various plants in the United States including the Hoover Dam, Copper Mountain Solar Facility and Kodiak Electrical Company’s wind turbines.
Terry Lautzenheiser, Chesterfield County Technical Center (CH)
$11,000 to study hybrid and heirloom breeding techniques and explore community-supported agriculture by touring community gardens, small farms and markets.
Lisa R. Mitchell, William Fox Elementary School (RI)
$12,000 to travel to Portugal and England to experience and research the food traditions of her ancestors through cooking classes and food workshops.
Robert Motrynczuk, Spring Run Elementary School (CH)
$11,000 to travel to Hawaii and New Zealand to study and experience the math and science of extreme sports by Heli-boarding, Kiteboarding, and Bungee Jumping.
Amy Petersen, Midlothian High School (CH)
$11,000 to journey to Southern France where she will participate in an immersion language course and tour ancient sites related to the Roman expansion in Gaul.
Richard (Paul) Rozecki, Atlee High School (HA)
$8,000 to attend the 2017 Spirit of America Visual Design Retreat and study Pyware and Pygraphics, which will help him design new and innovative band drills.
Tonya Sikkar, South Anna Elementary School (HA)
$11,000 to participate in the MOVE Program, an international program that focuses on movement as a way of life for individuals with disabilities.
Eugene Streett, Cosby High School (CH)
$11,000 to visit Rome, Istanbul and Jerusalem – three cities at the intersection of history and religion.
Kevin Trent, Patrick Henry High School (HA)
$10,800 to explore history and culture of South America by connecting with a former exchange student in Brazil and visiting the family of an Argentine friend in Argentina.
Sara Vogt, Glen Allen High School (HE)
$10,000 to participate in the High School Teacher Program at CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, and to travel to Southeast Asia.
Kyla Zabala, Highland Springs High School (HE)
$10,000 to tour historical theatres to compare current and historical trends by focusing on the lives of several famous poets and playwrights.
All finalists not chosen for a professional development grant will receive a $750 unrestricted cash grant in recognition of their achievements in the classroom.
Learn more about the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence
(RICHMOND, VA) – The Community Foundation and the R.E.B. Foundation recognize 30 outstanding public school teachers selected as finalists for the 2017 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. Considered among the best in their field, these exceptional instructors demonstrate a sincere passion for teaching while also serving as mentors, coaches and champions for their students. Selected from 112 nominations submitted by students, parents and colleagues, 16 winners and 14 finalists will receive cash grants totaling $180,800.
The R.E.B. Awards provide opportunities for area public school teachers to continue their own love of learning as they pursue adventures of a lifetime. For Minh Jergens, an 6th grade history teacher at Bailey Bridge Middle School in Chesterfield, an R.E.B. Award of $10,000 will allow her to return to her home country of Vietnam, which she left to come to the United States with her father at the age of 9. While there, she will visit war sites to deepen her understanding of this chapter of American history that affected millions of lives, including her own.
Christine Muse, the lead teacher at Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy, is driven to expose her students with significant cognitive disabilities to activities and experiences that will help prepare them for fully independent lives beyond the classroom. With her award of $9,500, Christine will research entrepreneurial opportunities for her students by visiting a business that employs individuals with intellectual disabilities in North Carolina, traveling to Grenada to explore an emerging program of the Grenada Downs Syndrome Association, and attending the 2018 World Downs Syndrome Congress in Glasgow, Scotland.
Connected by a desire to make their lessons relevant, all the 2017 awardees will have a chance to collect real-life experiences, stories and artifacts to refuel their passion for teaching and enhance their ability to bring subject matter to life for their students.
2017 Henrico County Finalists
Tiana Addai-Mensah, Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School (Richmond)
$12,000 to visit libraries across the globe with the purpose of exchanging ideas to elevate students’ love of reading for pleasure.
Helena Agnew, Cosby High School (Chesterfield)
$12,000 to study Native American crafts at the Taos Art School in New Mexico by taking classes taught by renowned Hopi, Navajo and Acoma artists.
Heather Andre, Cosby High School (Chesterfield)
$12,000 to travel to Italy and England, where a cappella music originated, to gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of how to teach and perform this popular style of choral music.
Karen Barber-Olajuwon, George Mason Elementary School (Richmond)
$12,000 to attend workshops in the U.S. and Barbados that promote the art of poetry writing, the use of poetry as an instructional tool, and poetry as a constructive outlet for traumatic experiences.
Alicia Broughton, Laurel Meadow Elementary School (Hanover)
$10,500 to explore the ancient civilizations and architecture of Greece and Rome to make relevant elementary STEM connections; and to attend the 2018 ISTE conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Michaela Dismann, Chesterfield Career and Technical Center (Chesterfield)
$12,000 to gain perspectives from former students and experts at rural colleges, universities and places of rural employment to encourage student interest in large animal veterinary careers; and to gain hands-on experience with stockmanship at a Wyoming Working Ranch.
Jerome Fleming, Short Pump Middle School (Henrico)
$10,300 to explore America’s historic cities and create a photo/video diary of each city to illustrate the culture and history that has made America into the diverse nation it is today.
Eliza Gemmill, South Anna Elementary School (Hanover)
$8,500 to participate in conferences, tours and interviews to learn how companies encourage innovation and how educators can connect business frameworks and philosophies to educational strategies.
Jennifer Gradwell, Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Home School (Chesterfield)
$11,400 to explore the connections between poverty, education and students’ hope for the future in Niger, Uganda, and Kenya; and to gain perspective through stories of resilience in parts of Africa with the lowest literacy rates in the world.
Minh Jurgens, Bailey Bridge Middle School (Chesterfield)
$10,000 to visit war sites in Vietnam to deepen the understanding of a chapter in American history that impacted millions of lives.
Jonathan Lauder, Mills E. Godwin High School (Henrico)
$6,500 to explore the ideas of the Enlightenment and the social and political revolutions brought to the western world by travelling to Paris, Vienna, Munich, and Philadelphia.
Christine Muse, Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy (Richmond)
$9,500 to study entrepreneurial opportunities for people with disabilities by visiting and networking with other organizations in North Carolina, Scotland and Grenada.
Lindsey Pantele, Glen Allen High School (Henrico)
$12,000 to study the Heroic and Classical Greek, Renaissance, and Modern literary periods through visits to several European cities.
Todd Ritter, Henrico High School (Henrico)
$10,600 to participate in Commedia Dell’arte and mask-making workshops in Florence, Italy and to visit several theatres spanning from ancient Rome to modern day.
Frenishee Smith, J.E. B. Stuart Elementary School (Richmond)
$9,000 to visit schools across the country that use innovative ways to engage students living in poverty; and to attend The International Conference on Urban Education in Nassau, Bahamas.
Gregory Townsend, Douglas Freeman High School (Henrico)
$12,000 to explore the culture, archaeology and geology of Central and South America while learning the Spanish language in an immersive setting.
The Community Foundation and the R.E.B. Foundation are pleased to recognize 34 outstanding public school teachers selected as finalists for the 2018 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. Considered among the best in their field, these instructors demonstrate a sincere passion for teaching while also serving as mentors, coaches and champions for their students. Selected from 136 nominations submitted by students, parents and colleagues, 16 winners and 18 finalists will receive cash grants totaling $189,900.
The R.E.B. Awards provide opportunities for area public school teachers to continue their own love of learning as they pursue adventures of a lifetime. Matt Wester, a science teacher at Franklin Military Academy in Richmond Public Schools, believes that the more you know the world, the greater your capacity to love it. With an R.E.B. award of $8,700, Matt will travel to the American West and immerse himself in the wilderness of six national parks to deepen his own spirit of wonder and discovery, as well as that of his students.
Meghan Hamm, a teacher at Yvonne B. Miller High School, shows students who believe they can’t that they can and uses creative approaches to help them express their individuality. Art has been a successful tool in preparing her students to share feelings that have not been expressed before, and to face challenges that may have led them to the Department of Juvenile Justice. With her award of $9,500, Meghan will visit Italy to learn ancient papermaking techniques that she will bring back to her classroom.
Connected by a desire to make their lessons relevant, all of the 2018 awardees will have a chance to collect real-life experiences, stories and artifacts to renew their passion for teaching and enhance their ability to bring subject matter to life for their students.
Crystal Barker, L. C. Bird High School (CH) — $11,000
To expand knowledge and experiences in outdoor adventure education – including biking, underwater exploration, fishing and modifications for people with disabilities – through local training and travel to Alaska and Florida.
Dickson Benesh, Maggie Walker Governor's School (RI) — $10,900
To participate in a cycling adventure tour in Iceland, primarily to investigate the effects of climate change and to collect real-world data for analysis in the classroom.
Caroline Canning, Henrico High School (HE) — $11,500
To learn about the effects of Apartheid, Nelson Mandela, and social justice in South Africa; and to make connections to literature through experiencing the culture and beauty of Zambia.
Shannon Castelo, James River High School (CH) — $8,700
To discover the geography and cultural landscapes of two world cities, New York City and Jerusalem, that have shaped the past and continue to shape modern, global decision-making.
Nichole Gross, Fairfield Middle School (HE) — $12,000
To explore the vast cultures, landscapes, languages, and arts that influence world literature and American culture through travel to England, France, Italy, Spain, Ghana and Morocco.
Gina Hackett, L. C. Bird High School (CH) — $11,800
To explore the ancient culture and landscape of Athens and Santorini, Greece with a focus on bringing the strong sense of community and hospitality back to the classroom.
Meghan Hamm, Yvonne B. Miller High School (DJJ) — $11,300
To learn papermaking, watermarking and bookmaking in Fabriano, Italy and 13th century paper mill techniques in Amalfi, Italy.
Christine Henry, Marguerite Christian Elementary School (CH) — $11,800
To encourage the next generation of thinkers and risk takers by retracing the footsteps of her grandmother – a former refugee, immigrant, and US citizen – through travel to Canada and Europe.
Melinda Johnson, Washington Henry Elementary School (HA) — $11,000
To attend the National Kindergarten Conference in Las Vegas and then explore innovative play-based education practices with travel to Colorado, Paradise Island, Ireland, and Scotland.
Kieasha King, Woodville Elementary School (RI) — $12,000
To obtain a Social Emotion Learning (SEL) certification at UCLA, gain anti-stress techniques in the Dominican Republic and mindfulness skills in Hawaii.
Tamara Letter, Mechanicsville Elementary School (HA) — $11,200
To connect with educators and organizations across the United States and Canada in an effort to cultivate kindness for global impact and to inspire others through digital sketchnoting and storytelling.
Robert Meister, Glen Allen High School (HE) — $10,000
To study improvisational handpan music and technique with international musicians from France, Portugal, and the U.S. to further enhance lessons in literature and writing.
Robin Milwit, Greenwood Elementary School (HE) — $11,500
To study emerging technologies that help develop students’ social and emotional skills by visiting schools and ed-tech companies in Finland and attending national technology conferences in Florida, California and the Fred Rogers Center in Pennsylvania.
Kathy Paschall, Franklin Military Academy (RI) — $11,500
To find adventure in the natural wonders of Iceland and Patagonia by becoming immersed in their extraordinary earth science features.
Lauren Serpa, Spring Run Elementary School (CH) — $11,500
To enhance student collaboration and creativity by studying comedy improv in Chicago and exploring the music, dances, instruments, and art from Ireland and The Netherlands.
Matt Wester, Franklin Military Academy (RI) — $8,700
To travel through the wilderness of the American West and experience the spirit of wonder and discovery that has inspired famous scientists over time.
About the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence
The awards program, which is a partnership between the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the R.E.B. Foundation, recognizes excellence in public education by awarding cash grants to outstanding public school teachers from the City of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover, and the Department of Correctional Education. Since its inception in 1988, the program has awarded $3.5 million to over 800 public school instructors as recognition for their outstanding classroom performance.
The Community Foundation and the R.E.B. Foundation are pleased to recognize 28 outstanding public school teachers selected as finalists for the 2019 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. Considered among the best in their field, these instructors demonstrate a sincere passion for teaching while also serving as mentors, coaches and champions for their students. Selected from 129 nominees submitted by students, parents and colleagues, 19 winners and 9 finalists will receive cash grants totaling $210,000.
On November 11, the region celebrated these educators at an awards ceremony at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, where the winners were announced. The First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam, spoke words of encouragement and congratulations, along with local nonprofit leader Damon Jiggetts, who delivered the keynote address.
The R.E.B. Awards provide opportunities for area public school teachers to continue their own love of learning as they pursue adventures of a lifetime. Connected by a desire to make their lessons relevant, all 2019 awardees will have the chance to collect real-life experiences, stories and artifacts to renew their passion for teaching and enhance their ability to bring subject matter to life for their students.
John Barclay, Franklin Military Academy (RI): $12,000
To chase Global Solar Phenomena including the Aurora Borealis in Iceland and Solar Eclipses in Africa, Southern Asia and the Southern Pacific Ocean.
Caroline Bare, Hanover High School (HA): $11,900
To study the Transatlantic Slavery Triangle through the prisms of history, memory and reconciliation in relation to Richmond, England and Ghana.
Caitlyn Carpenter, Glen Allen High School (HE): $9,000
To travel the United States to visit mentorship models for youth and gain insights into the collective understanding of historically marginalized communities.
Mandelia Fisher, Chimborazo Elementary School (RI): $10,300
To attend the National Conference for Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools in Atlanta and explore the architecture, culture and cuisines of New York, Egypt and Singapore.
Nicole Fleming, Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School (RI): $11,200
To make text-to-self connections through children's literature by traveling to New York, Alabama and California.
Amy Gregory, Chickahominy Middle School (HA): $12,000
To discover and explore geographical features and biomes across the United States and Canada.
Amanda Hach, Glen Allen High School (HE): $9,000
To cultivate empathy and community by visiting historically significant and culturally relevant sites relating to the African American experience in the United States.
Adam Hawkins, Chesterfield Technical Center (CH): $12,000
To travel the country in an RV visiting technical centers that offer work-based learning, with a focus on the culinary industry.
John Holland, John B. Cary Elementary School (RI): $11,500
To understand the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci as an example of STEAM in action by visiting Portugal, Spain, France and Italy.
Kimberly Jackson, Echo Lake Elementary School (HE): $9,000
To study the animals of the Galapagos, the Islands’ intricate ecosystem, and the importance of reducing the environmental footprint on the Islands.
Heather Leise, Atlee High School (HA): $11,900
To compare and contrast benevolent dictators of the past and present by traveling to Singapore and the former states of Yugoslavia.
Christopher Morris, Swift Creek Middle School (CH): $10,000
To explore the music and sounds of Spain.
Elizabeth O'Shea, L.C. Bird High School (CH): $9,000
To explore the western front of World War II Europe.
Rachael Pifer, Robious Middle School (CH): $11,700
To obtain the Children's Yoga Teacher Certification with an emphasis on making yoga and mindfulness inclusive and accessible to children of diverse abilities.
Kathryn Regan, J.A. Chalkley Elementary School (CH): $11,500
To engage in immersive and authentic experiences in Mexico and southern Europe.
Beth Sawyer, Evergreen Elementary (CH): $11,500
To expand knowledge of learning through play by observing innovative play and outdoor-based instructional programs in China and Switzerland.
Natasha Thomas, Southampton Elementary School (RI): $11,300
To embark on the African-American experience through the lens of Black artistry in Los Angeles, and to make heritage connections in South Africa.
Timothy Towslee, Glen Allen High School (HE): $10,800
To obtain certification as an outdoor ethics master educator and to apply these skills by backpacking through the Alaskan wilderness.
Denise Yancey, William Fox Elementary School (RI): $8,300
To experience Spanish immersion in Panama and to observe the ecosystems and biodiversity of Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico.
The awards program, which is a partnership between the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the R.E.B. Foundation, recognizes excellence in public education by awarding cash grants to outstanding public school teachers from the City of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover, and the Department of Correctional Education. Since its inception in 1988, the program has awarded nearly $4 million to over 800 public school instructors as recognition for their outstanding classroom performance.
Each year, as spring weather takes hold and the school year winds down, the R.E.B Foundation and The Community Foundation are proud to announce the latest recipients of the R.E.B. Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership. Four principals – one each from Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond Public Schools – are honored with grants of $15,000 in recognition of their demonstrated commitment to creating an exceptional learning environment through creative and engaging opportunities for their students, staff and community. Half of the award is designated for school projects, as outlined by the principal in their written proposal.
Congratulations to the 2017 winners:
Jennifer Rudd, Bellwood Elementary School, Chesterfield
To create a parent resource center within the school.
Caroline Harris, Oak Knoll Middle School, Hanover
To convert the traditional library into a “libratory” that includes designated space for hands-on learning, access to technology and flexible instruction space.
Melissa Halquist-Pruden, Glen Allen Elementary School, Henrico
To enhance the school’s outdoor learning space.
Indira Williams, Ginter Park Elementary School, Richmond
To create innovation stations to engage students in creative STEM activities.
The R.E.B. Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership was created in 2004 as a complement to the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence, which has recognized more than 700 public school teachers from the metro Richmond region since 1988.
To learn how to nominate your favorite principal, check out the program overview.
PAST WINNERS (most recent listed first)
Sarah Fraher, Manchester Middle School
Deborah Marks, Clover Hill High School
Stephen Cunningham, Matoaca High School
Brenda Mayo, Cosby High School
Jaime Accashian, Chesterfield Community High School
Bessie Cooper, Bensley Elementary School
Peter Koste, Manchester High School
Joyce Lanier, Evergreen Elementary School
David Sovine, Monacan High School
John Titus, James River High School
Nancy Disharoon, Stonewall Jackson Middle School
Leah Finch, John M. Grandy Elementary School
Rhonda Epling, Pole Green Elementary School
Amy Woodword, Mechanicsville Elementary School
Debbie Arco, Chickahominy Middle School
S. Scott Baker, Chickahominy Middle School
Vincent D’Agostino, Atlee High School
Teresa Keck, Henry Clay Elementary School
Patricia Miller, Gandy Elementary School
Paul Vecchione, Patrick Henry High School
Katina Otey, Ridge Elementary School
Herbert Monroe, Lakeside Elementary School
Sharon Pope, Harry F. Byrd Middle School
Andrew Armstrong, John Rolfe Middle School
Elizabeth Armbruster, Hungary Creek Middle School
Pamela Bell, Jacob Adams Elementary School
Ingrid Grant, Ratcliff Elementary School
Tracie Omohundro, Varina High School
William Parker, Henrico High School
Aaron Spence, Deep Run High School
Kiwana Yates, Carver Elementary School
Rosalind Taylor, Woodville Elementary School
Brenda Phillips, John B. Cary Elementary School
Willie Bell, John Wythe High School
Thomas Beatty, former principal of Thompson Middle School
Beverly Britt, John Marshall High School
J. Austin Brown, Huguenot High School
David Hudson, Linwood Holton Elementary School
Michael Kight, Albert Hill Elementary School
Irene Williams, Fairfield Court Elementary School
Nominations are now being accepted for the R.E.B. Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership. Four principals will be publicly recognized, one each from local school districts in Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and City of Richmond. The Awards seek to recognize those principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. Four principals, one in each school district, will be selected to receive a $7,500 cash grant to the principal, and an additional $7,500 for the principal’s school for projects chosen by the principal.
Nominate a principal
The R.E.B. Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership are sponsored by the Community Foundation, in partnership with the R.E.B. Foundation.
The R.E.B. Awards for Distinguished Leadership seek to recognize principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. Four principals are publicly recognized, one in each school district of the metropolitan area (i.e. the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and the City of Richmond). Each award consists of a $7,500 cash grant to the principal and an additional $7,500 for school projects chosen by the principal.
Nominate a Principal
3409 Moore Street
Richmond, VA 23230
P.O. Box 76495
Baltimore, MD 21275-6495
P: (804) 330-7400
F: (804) 330-5992
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