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Announcing 2017 R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence Winners

30 finalists recognized with cash grants totaling $180,800


(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-OlajuwonGeorge 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 SmithJ.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.

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


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