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2011-12 News Releases

NEWS
RELEASE

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For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2012
For more information, contact the Dept. of School and Community Relations at 703-228-6004 www.apsva.us
  
  Wakefield’s Laurell Wiersma Named APS Teacher of the YearTeacher of the Year Laurell Wiersma
 
Wakefield High School math teacher Dr. Laurell Wiersma has been named Arlington Public Schools 2012 Teacher of the Year.
 
“Laurell’s drive and determination to make sure her students receive a quality education makes this recognition well-deserved,” said Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. “Her passion and drive to make a difference in the lives of students is evident in her work.”

Wakefield Principal Dr. Chris Willmore states that her ability to succeed with students is typified by the response of a young man in her Algebra support class last year. A 10th grader, who had failed Algebra I in 9th grade and in summer school and most of his other classes, was disconnected and not committed to graduating. “Dr. Wiersma was able to break through the uncaring façade and connect with him,” said Willmore. “By the end of last year, the change in his attitude was apparent to everyone. This year, he is an honor roll student and talking about college.”

Wiersma earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in math from George Mason University. She earned a Ph.D. from American University and received licenses in school administration from George Mason University and trends and issues in gifted education from James Madison University.

Wiersma began her teaching career at Suitland High School in Forestville, Md., before coming to Wakefield in 1997. She also served as the APS math specialist for three years where she coordinated curricular and professional development activities related to K-12 math instruction.

As a mentor to new teachers, Wiersma is supportive and always has an open door. “She truly made me feel that I had someone who cares about my success as a Wakefield teacher,” said math teacher Tamar Lisa Attai. “It is Laurell’s nature to be as supportive of and compassionate with her colleagues as she is of her students.”

Both her colleagues and students are amazed at the support that she provides students even after she is no longer their teacher. “She is a great teacher who is professional, helpful and caring. Without her sharp eyes that helped me take higher level math classes, I wouldn’t have been able to take multivariable calculus,” said senior Ketao Yin. “Her diligent work and care for her students deserves to be recognized with this award.”

Wiesrma will serve as Arlington’s nominee for the 2012 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and is one of 21 metropolitan D.C. area teachers who will be honored on May 15 at The Washington Post as part of the annual Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Awards sponsored by The Post Company’s Educational Foundation.

The Arlington School Board will recognize Wiersma and the 32 other APS teachers who were named “Teacher of the Year” for their individual schools. The Teacher of the Year reception and recognition program will be held on Thu, May 17, at 7 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School. The program will be aired on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS 41 beginning at 7:30.

The school-based honorees include:

Elementary School:
Paige Whelan - Abingdon Elementary School
Mignon Miller - Arlington Science Focus Elementary School
Lynn Uhre O'Grady - Arlington Traditional School
Stephanie Lawson - Ashlawn Elementary School
Theresa Chapman-Miller - Barcroft Elementary School
Cristina Torres - Barrett Elementary School
Jennifer H. Browne - Campbell Elementary School
Juan Andres Otal - Carlin Springs Elementary School
Kimberly D. Klaus - Claremont Elementary School
Christine Hufnagel - Drew Elementary School
Katherine M. Neville - Glebe Elementary School
Mercedes Dean - Henry Elementary School
Rosemary Giangiulio - Hoffman-Boston Elementary School
Angela L. Foreman - Jamestown Elementary School
Caitlin G. Fine - Key Elementary School
Alyssa R. Watkins-Dove - Long Branch Elementary School
Maren Mapp - McKinley Elementary School
Keith Knott - Nottingham Elementary School
Wes Parker - Oakridge Elementary School
Mary Ann Penning - Randolph Elementary School
Bianca Sanchez - Taylor Elementary School
Marnie A. Lewis - Tuckahoe Elementary School

 
Middle School:
Sharon L. Steen - Gunston Middle School
Michael J. Frickel - Jefferson Middle School
Angelique B. Close - Kenmore Middle School
Monica Lozano Caldera - Swanson Middle School
Latanja Elaine Thomas - Williamsburg Middle School

 
High School:
Paul Bui - Washington-Lee High School
Rebecca L. Bonzano - Yorktown High School
Dale Winchell - Arlington Career Center
Ann A. Kennedy - Arlington Mill High School Continuation
Bill Van Evera - H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program