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Superintendent's Innovator Award Winner and Finalists Named

September 21, 2020

Brittany Hundley, a third-grade teacher at Greenville Elementary School, has been selected as the Superintendent’s Innovator of the Year for 2020.  The award is designed to recognize the outstanding efforts of a teacher who incorporates innovation into instruction. Seven teachers were named finalists for the Superintendent’s Innovation Award - Catherine Croft, Michele Dass, Bill Davidson, Brad McCabe, Chris Pierce, Emily Scott, and Michelle Smith.  The top innovator earns $500, and each finalist receives a $200 award for his or her classroom.

Brittany Hundley, Superintendent’s Innovator of the Year

“Her planning, implementation, and reflection processes help her to continue moving forward, always striving to be better tomorrow than she was today--because 'her kids' deserve it. She has developed an innovator’s mindset and a culture of innovation in her classroom, modeling for kids about risk-taking, always trying and giving your best, and failing forward.”  Tim Gardner, Principal, Greenville Elementary School.

Division Superintendent Dr. David Jeck described Brittany Hundley as deserving of the Superintendent’s Innovator Award because, “It takes both imagination and courage to bring innovation to the classroom. Brittany clearly has both. She represents the motivation behind the creation of this award, and her determination to offer unique learning experiences daily is obvious.”  

Surprised by receiving the award, Hundley’s first thoughts were, “This is certainly a mistake.” 

Hundley is quick to share her success with others. “It takes the support and collaboration from everyone to really make this type of thing happen, and I could never take credit for any of the above. The kiddos are the true innovators,” she said. “I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many creative educators, with an administration that wants to always look for a way to say yes. There are countless teachers doing amazing and innovative things around our county, and I am constantly inspired by them.”

Brittany is currently in her sixth year of teaching.  After four years at Pearson Elementary as a special education teacher, Brittany came to Greenville last year to teach second grade.  This year she looped with her students and moved to third grade.

Mrs. Hundley consistently weaves innovation into her instruction. Her favorite lesson last year was when her students created magnet projects.

“My favorite experience last year was when my second graders broke off into teams in order to research, design, and showcase their own student-created magnet projects. We were studying magnetic forces and motion in science and intertwined as much of it as we could in our language arts time. For about two to three weeks, the kids spent time researching and reading how to build various creations, such as a magnetic car, a floating pen, magnetic slime, magnetic mazes, and even a magnetic soccer game board. I suppose it was innovative to let twenty-something seven and eight-year-olds take over the entire classroom with all the materials to make these creations,” she explained.

“Things got pretty messy and at times chaotic with everyone working on their own projects at various stages. There were lots of failed attempts. My co-teachers and I served as a guide on the side, supporting them when they needed direction or new materials… or when they needed the hammer or hot glue gun. Mrs. Hopkins and Mrs. Lowery were extremely helpful in keeping everything running smoothly. The magic really happened as the kiddos learned to problem solve together.” 

Being an innovative teacher takes celebrating failure as a first attempt in learning, Hundley admits.  “Some of the groups had projects that never fully worked, and we brought them to the showcase anyway. We talk a lot in class about how there is oftentimes more learning that occurs in failure than in success, and some groups modeled just that.”  

Superintendent’s Innovator Finalists

Following are the seven finalists for Superintendent’s Innovator Award, listed with excerpts from their nominations.

Catherine Croft, Fauquier High School

Dr. Catherine Croft has been coined as the “former neurobiologist brings science to life at FHS” by Fauquier Now in an article highlighting her innovation in the classroom teaching science. Dr. Croft was selected to participate in the 1:1 pilot at FHS with her students this year. She successfully used blended learning activities daily, various online resources and platforms with her students to bring them into the 21st century and ready for the world! In collaboration with her National Institute of Health affiliation, she was able to procure resources for Fauquier High School’s STEM program to foster her passion to bring hands-on science to all students. Dr. Croft’s love and passion for science illuminates in and out of the classroom. In addition to sharing her passion for science in the classroom, Dr. Croft serves as the Academic Team sponsor for the “Fighting Nerds” who won the district tournament, advancing to regionals. Due to COVID-19, face-to-face competitions have been delayed. However, Dr. Croft, being the innovator that she is, collaborated with other Academic Bowl sponsors throughout the region to continue their competitions virtually.

Michele Dass, Pearson Elementary School

Ms. Dass incorporated project based learning (PBL) into her lessons for her fourth and fifth-grade GT students. Her students explored and inquired about topics they were learning. When COVID-19 hit, Ms. Dass was strategic and creative about how she was reaching students and went above and beyond to engage her students. 

Bill Davidson, Kettle Run High School 

Mr. Davidson has continuously strived to create authentic learning in his classroom each year. Most recently, Mr. Davidson worked to implement standards-based grading for his students to illustrate their comprehension and learning of the curriculum. Students were self-paced and able to work through modules and activities to support their learning. His innovative teaching worked to meet students where they were in the learning process and helped them grow to master their skills.

Brad McCabe, Cedar Lee Middle School

Mr. McCabe is constantly trying new technology in the classroom! He frequently utilizes gamification techniques in his lessons. He has also taken his students on virtual tours using Google Earth, so they can experience other lands in the world. Last year he was working to establish a "world classrooms" connection with a class in Japan and Colombia so that his students could regularly converse with young people in those countries. Brad is always searching for new ways to incorporate student devices into his daily lessons. His creative mind is never at rest...as yearbook sponsor, he has added some interesting features to Cedar Lee yearbooks to jazz things up and improve student excitement about their school.

Chris Pierce, Liberty High School

Chris has stepped up as an innovative leader at LHS and for the division. He has been at the forefront of the standards-based grading movement with a focus on student portfolios, student reflections, and student choice. He has led this movement at LHS, and he has presented to the entire FCPS1 administration. This presentation inspired many administrators around the county to ask Chris to present to their school teams. Chris has also taken a leadership role in our P-based learning development at LHS. We have established a position with our innovation grant that allows for a leader for P-based instruction, and Chris applied for and was chosen for that position. He will now lead a team of LHS teachers to focus on project, problem, passion, performance, purpose, phenomenon, personalized, production, publication, and participatory learning. Chris is a risk-taker and innovator. He is not afraid to try something new and fail. He encourages his students and colleagues in the same way. He pushes our admin team to be better!

 Emily Scott, Bradley Elementary School

I am always amazed when I visit Mrs. Scott's classroom. She is so passionate about Virginia history, and her enthusiasm for this content is infectious! She finds innovative ways to teach her content and turns dusty, old history into a subject area children want to learn. She provides opportunities for authentic learning, and her lessons carry depth and enrichment. During any regular day in her classroom, you will see virtual Skype field trips, visiting many historical places; we traveled to Monticello without leaving school! You will hear podcasts created by her students, or you will venture on a treasure hunt for the facts about Jamestown. She is student-centered and innovative in planning and delivering cross-curricular lessons, such as teaching how to solve math problems using the Road to Revolution, all while being watched over by a life-size cut out of George Washington himself! Mrs. Scott thinks outside the box; she has created her own YouTube channel to reach her students during distance learning and beyond. She is a true innovator in every sense of the word!

 Michelle Smith, Pierce Elementary School

Michelle Smith has been teaching for more than 30 years at Pierce. This year, she took a leap of faith to integrate innovative multi-sensory strategies into her literacy block. She kept true to word study and the Benchmark literacy program while integrating innovative strategies such as using sand, blending boards, movement, and many other strategies to ensure that her students were all able to access the learning. It is truly exciting to see a teacher who has been teaching for a long time take a leap of faith and try something completely different and do it so well. The gains that her students made were huge. I am so proud of Michelle for staying committed to something new and different and excited to see where she takes it with her students in the future.