Joshua Whitlinger, an earth/physical science teacher at Great Neck Middle School, is the 2023 Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Citywide Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Aaron Spence made the announcement at the Teacher of the Year annual banquet, May 6, at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
“Whitlinger inspires, challenges and encourages both his students and his peers,” said Dr. Spence, “and this honor could not have gone to a more talented or charismatic educator. He’s just another example of how VBCPS is the region’s leader in providing a first-class education for our future citizens.”
Whitlinger has been teaching for 14 years, was nominated twice for teacher of the year and was named the Distinguished Educator for Plaza Middle School in 2020. Before joining VBCPS, Whitlinger was selected by NASA to attend the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers & Students (WRATS), where he and a cohort of national science teachers designed rockets and curriculum that could be available to educators and students internationally.
“Josh Whitlinger is among the finest when it comes to advancing student learning, specifically through student agency,” said Thomas W. Quinn, principal of Great Neck Middle School.
Whitlinger worked diligently in the COVID-19 era to lead his team successfully in developing a curriculum that effortlessly blended students in both virtual and face-to-face environments. One of his scientific and collaborative endeavors included the introduction of the Trout in the Classroom program to VBCPS, where hundreds of students raised and released wild trout into Virginia’s watersheds. He always finds new ways to motivate, challenge and support everyone in his community.
“I teach because it is my duty to support students, colleagues, and parents in my community to develop well-rounded citizens,” Whitlinger added. “This means inviting community and culture into my classroom every day.”
As the 2023 Citywide Teacher of the Year, Whitlinger receives a $200 Massage LuXe spa package; a week’s stay in an Orlando villa and $500 from McDonald’s Restaurant owned and operated by Hugh Fard; $1,000 from the Virginia Beach Education Foundation; and $1,000 from the VBCPS Department of Teaching and Learning to spend on instructional supplies for his classroom.
From an initial pool of 87 Teachers of the Year, the division’s selection committee visited the classrooms of selectees and interviewed five finalists to determine Whitlinger as the winner.
In the spirit of celebrating the 2023 Teachers of the Year, please revisit the other distinguished finalists and their fascinating stories: Nicole DelGaudio, a third-grade teacher at Thoroughgood Elementary School; Mary “Molly” Harrison, an art teacher at Rosemont Elementary School; Ashley Houchins, a marketing teacher at Kempsville High School EBA; and Melinda Pezzella, a second-grade teacher at Trantwood Elementary School.