-by Svetla Tomanova
In April, the Teacher of the Year committee selected the finalists of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 2023 Citywide Teacher of the Year. Today, we’re introducing to you the first candidate. More to follow in this series of profiles about each finalist. The citywide winner will be announced later this week.
Nicole DelGaudio began her career with Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) as a language arts teacher at Thoroughgood Elementary School in 2012. She is the 2023 Thoroughgood Elementary Teacher of the Year.
She found her passion for the profession while working on her degree in psychology and simultaneously volunteering as a respite worker for a family with an autistic son – long before she became a public school language arts teacher. At that early age, DelGaudio realized that she could bring the joy of literature and instill a love of learning in young people.
Knowing that she can be a part of changing the lives of children for the better, children who otherwise may find themselves lost or without the proper tools to succeed in life, DelGaudio decided on a career in education, and she diligently began her studies.
“I chose a career in education because teaching is my passion and my calling,” wrote DelGaudio in her application for the award. “I believe that I can empower my students to reach their potential. I hope to boost their confidence, elicit their critical thinking, and inspire them to find their voice.”
She believes that is best to lead by example. She welcomes and encourages practicum students, student teachers and ‘Teachers of Tomorrow’ in her classroom, and she doesn’t hesitate to share the intricacies of her profession with the young and aspiring colleagues.
DelGaudio is the perfect illustration of the educational professional – a teacher leader who reaches all students: Special Ed, ELL, core and gifted.
“DelGaudio has effortlessly balanced being both an exemplary expert in the teaching profession while also being open to learning,” said Thoroughgood Elementary Principal Micah B. Harris. “She embraces all learners and clearly communicates the belief that all students can learn. She is a gift for the profession.”
Terry Darnell, a Thoroughgood Elementary gifted resource teacher, praised DelGaudio’s “amazing relationships with her students” and described her as “highly analytical and creative in her learning tasks.”
DelGaudio exhibits school spirit, which was evident in her support of the school’s PTA. She took part in PTA events by helping set up or volunteer and encouraging families to join her.
When teaching students about writing, DelGaudio uses “real world” applications and offers students context to their instructions, and helps them understand the power of their words. For years she had her fifth graders write letters to pen pals in New Jersey and build relationships that continued long after they moved on to middle school.
DelGaudio has implemented creative innovative and inspiring teaching techniques in her classroom to demonstrate that learning is purposeful, relationships are meaningful and everyone has a voice.
“The beauty of the classroom space cannot be overlooked” she pointed out in her submission.
Her classroom environment was a catalyst for students’ motivation and attendance but also exemplary for her Thoroughgood peers, who had adopted similar philosophies in their classrooms in order to create spaces that maximize opportunities for collaboration and motivation.
“All children deserve dignity and a sense of belonging,” Principal Harris said. “That is what Ms. DelGaudio provides in her fifth grade classroom.”