Students, parents and administrators are grateful for great teachers and staff

Tallwood Elementary student Virginia Hill loves that Tamika Knox, her school’s head custodian, appreciates her sense of humor. “Every time I see her, I tell a joke,” said Hill. “I made up this one: ‘What did one puddle say to the other puddle? WAT-er you waiting for?’”

“She laughs every time I tell a joke,” said Hill, unable to contain her own laughter after sharing the pun.

Fellow Talllwood student Layla Gallop is grateful for Knox as well. “Whenever I walk past her, she always says ‘Hi’ to me so it will lighten up my mood,” said Knox. “And whenever I come through these doors the floor is shining and everything is so nice and cleaned up. It’s so pretty.”

The head custodian’s positive impact extends beyond the school walls. “She comes to my football games,” said Tallwood Elementary student Jaylan McKenzie. “I’ll miss her when I go to sixth grade. She’s a very nice lady. I really like her working here.”

McKenzie, Milena Hoenes, Knox, Hill and Gallop at Tallwood Elementary

Knox has only been working at Tallwood for two years, having spent most of her 20 years working for the division in high schools. Wherever she is working, Knox has one love: “For me, I love the kids here more than anything.”

Staff members like Knox and teachers like Anne Flavin are the people for whom students are grateful during this season of Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Of Flavin, his first-grade teacher at Landstown Elementary, second-grader GeKobe Bell said, “She has been a great teacher in my life because she has always loved me. She has always cared about me and she was always nice.”

Flavin, Bell and Aaron Spence at Landstown Elementary

High school students appreciate their teachers as well.

“Something that I really love about Princess Anne and about this school system right now is that as I’ve gotten older, the teachers have impressed me more and more,” explained Princess Anne High School junior Hope Berns. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m growing older and I’m learning to respect them. This year I’m finding myself to be significantly more motivated in my classes than I was in the past, mostly because the teachers that are teaching me now, I can tell how passionate they are about what they are teaching.”

“For example, my history teacher, she loves history,” continued Berns. “She breathes it and you can tell when she teaches that this is something that she loves to do. So, when I know that about a teacher, it makes me work hard.”

Working hard is what parents see their children doing thanks to the positive influence of teachers.

“My son has always struggled with math. To say he hated math class on every level would be a true and accurate statement,” wrote Kempsville Middle School parent Beth Davis in an email to the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers campaign.

“He’s now in eighth grade and his math teacher is Mr. Dishaw. My son is coming home happy. He has good grades in math. He even goes to school an hour early just to go into Mr. Dishaw‘s class to get extra help,” continued Davis. “He makes class fun and still expects and encourages hard work. I’ve never seen my boy so inspired and encouraged about something he’s hated for most of his life.”

Dishaw at Kempsville Middle School

Parent Kathy Vargas also sent an email to praise how Dishaw is making a difference for her son.

“He has a teacher who sees the best in him and I believe he is excelling because of this teacher,” she wrote. “Our teachers do so much every day beyond their scope of duties, after hours and for little pay. They should all be recognized for their determination to help mold the minds of young individuals.”

Another difference maker, according to Plaza Middle School parent Angela Sears, is special education teacher Chiquita Tucker. “Throughout my son’s history, I have yet to find a teacher with her compassion and dedication to her students. Truly, having her in our world for the past three years has been a blessing to our family. I wish there were more teachers like her that went the extra mile and truly loved the difference they make in a child’s life. She is truly one in a million.”

Rashard Wright, Tucker and Deb Price at Plaza Middle School

Pride is what Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said he feels when he reflects on the student engagement and staff support he sees in schools daily.

“None of that happens without the commitment, passion, creativity, joy and love that all of you—our team of teachers, administrators and support staff—pour into your jobs every day,” Spence expressed in an email Nov. 21 to all school division staff. “As I am in our buildings and our classrooms, I see the incredible care and dedication with which you serve the children of our city, and I know that you are all an integral part of our mission to provide every child with the best educational experience possible every time they walk through our doors. For that, I am incredibly thankful.”

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