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La Crosse educator named Region 8 Teacher of the Year

South Boston News
Michelle “Shelly” Howell (second from left) is congratulated by Mecklenburg County Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols, La Crosse Elementary Principal Connie Puckett and Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane after being named Virginia Region 8 Teacher of the Year.
SoVaNow.com / September 11, 2019


Michelle “Shelly” Howell, a special education teacher at LaCrosse Elementary School, discovered Thursday that she has a new title: Teacher of the Year in Virginia’s Region 8.

With the honor, Howell becomes one of eight teachers in the running to become the 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year. That award will be announced in October.

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James F. Lane and assistant superintendent Patty Pitts visited La Crosse Elementary School this week to make the announcement.

Howell credited Angela Feggins, a para-professional with whom she teaches in the classroom, with helping her to achieve the honor.

Howell is a three-year veteran of Mecklenburg County Public Schools. Prior to coming to Virginia, she taught in Kentucky and Ohio.

Since joining La Crosse Elementary School in 2016, Howell has taught reading and mathematics to third, fourth and fifth grade students. Additionally, she was one of 100 teachers across Virginia to be chosen for training in the Orton Gillingham Multi-sensory approach for reading instruction. She also is one of 20 teachers in Virginia to participate in an intense practicum with an Orton-Gillingham Fellow.

Outside of school, Howell has served on the board of Families Embracing Autism Together (FEAT), as an IEP partner at the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center, and as a founder of Friends of Exceptional Children.

Region 8 includes K-12 school districts in Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.

Howell is the second teacher from Mecklenburg County to be named Teacher of the Year for Region 8. Rachel Johnson was the first; she was a Title 1 teacher at La Crosse Elementary School in 2011 when she was honored.

Howell is not the only teacher from Mecklenburg County honored in recent days for outstanding performance and commitment to educational excellence. Late last month, 23 county teachers were asked to participate in an upcoming forum with the Virginia Department of Education to discuss steps they took to improve student achievement on SOL tests among at-risk students.

Gap students — those who are economically disadvantaged, speak English as a second language, black students or have a disability that impedes learning — in these classes made the greatest gains in SOL testing scores among students in similar classes across 15 school divisions participating in the VDOE CIP collaborative to improve student achievement.

Eleven of the 23 teachers are from Park View Middle School. They are math teachers Deborah Harrell, Nick Carter and Stephanie Holloway, reading teachers Danielle Ashworth, Stephanie Arrington, Beverly Scott, Rebecca Cobb, Shelley Patton, and Deborah Davis, and science teachers Tara Dunbar and Chandler Puryear. During the year when these improvements were made, Joan Hite was principal at the middle school. Hite now serves as director of primary education and assessments for the county school division.

Other teachers invited to participate in the forum are Shelby Brown, Park View High School algebra teacher, Stephanie Leichty, Bluestone Middle School civics teacher, David Allgood, Bluestone Middle School math teacher, Marjorie Randall, Bluestone High School Geometry earth science teacher and Leslie Clark, Bluestone High School geometry teacher.

Also selected to take part are Joan Scott, Chase City Elementary math teacher, Meghan Orr, Clarksville Elementary School science teacher, and five teachers at South Hill Elementary School: Betty Edwards, science and math, Amanda Washburn, math, and Brooke Ellis and Nicole Deal, reading.



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