2021 City-Wide Teachers of the Year Announced

2021 City-Wide Teachers of the Year Announced
Posted on 03/31/2021

Congratulations to Scott Graham, a mathematics and physics teacher at King's Fork High School, who has been selected as the Suffolk Public Schools’ 2021 City-Wide Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations also to Ashley Nettles of Elephant's Fork Elementary School, who is the City-Wide Elementary School Teacher of the Year … Ginnie German of Colonel Fred Cherry Middle School, who is the City-Wide Middle School Teacher of the Year … and Sarah Albright of Lakeland High School, who has been selected as the City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.


2021 City-Wide Teacher of the Year

City-Wide Teacher of the Year Group Photo

Scott Graham, a mathematics and physics teacher at King's Fork High School has been named the 2021 City-Wide Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools. Graham served as a military officer in the United States Army before pursuing his lifelong desire to teach.  His coworker Stuart Jones explains, "What makes Mr. Graham truly unique is his willingness to assist any student or faculty member who may need help-whether that help is math-related or not."

His experiences as a military officer influenced his teaching style of storytelling, open discussion, and leading by example. "When I walk into the classroom, my goal is to impart as much knowledge as I can into my students as humanly possible by any means available." His commitment to education extends beyond the classroom, supporting his students by attending extracurricular activities.  He has served as a member of the School Leadership Committee, a pre-calculus teacher in the International Baccalaureate program, and a Math Department Chair at King's Fork High School.

Graham is a productive community member, working with the Boy Scouts and a church volunteer. 

He earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from West Point, a master's degree in Business Organizational Management from the University of La Verne, a second master's degree in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University, and obtained his teaching licensure through Virginia Wesleyan College.


2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year Group Photo

In her sixth year of teaching, Elephant's Fork fourth grade teacher Ashley Nettles is the 2021 City-Wide Elementary Teacher of the Year. She explains that her fourth-grade teacher influenced her to become a teacher.  She wanted to provide the same safe, nurturing environment and instill in her students that they could accomplish anything.

Nettles is known for her positive attitude, outstanding leadership abilities, and personal skills.  She creates a loving classroom environment where her students feel confident in their ability to learn.  Each year Nettles tells her students, "In my classroom, we are family. There are many times that you argue with one another, get annoyed, or get frustrated.  None of that matters, at the end of the day, we love each other, and we help each other." 

Parent Theresa Earles credits Nettles for saving her family and her son, who struggled with ADHD.  She said, "Nettles helped him discover his love for school and learning, which resulted in improved behavior and grades. Not only did this earn him a regular place on the honor roll, but he was recognized as Student of the Month.

Nettles has played an essential role at Elephant's Fork as a member of the leadership team, the Computer Science Coach, and is the lead for the school's Code VA program. She has also assisted Suffolk community organizations, ForKids, and enjoyed working with the Humane Society.

Nettles earned her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and her master's degree in Elementary Education from Old Dominion University.


2021 Middle School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year

Ginnie German, a Special Education teacher at Colonel Fred Cherry Middle School, has been selected as the 2021 City-Wide Middle School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools. Ms. German has eight years of passion for her community and genuine concern for her students, families, and colleagues.  According to her Principal Daniel O'Leary, "Ms. German has consistently taken the extra mile attitude toward everything and everyone she comes into contact with."  Her teaching philosophy is "love and loud," which ensures that all of her students are greeted each day with a safe and accepting environment.  Every child feels valued and confident in their skills.  "I'm a firm believer in the concept that learning is loud, that understanding, applying, and synthesizing are active processes that require exploration, discovery, and discussion."

During her summers, she has worked for the nonprofit organization Horizons Hampton Roads, and she was able to design most of her unique curriculum.  She included zombie attacks, archeological digs from Pompeii, explosive volcanoes, and magic tricks in her lessons to encourage an excitement towards learning.

German earned her bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University.


2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools Rookie Teacher of the Year Group Phot

Sarah Albright, a World History teacher at Lakeland High School, has been named the 2021 City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.  According to Ms. Albright, her first year has been "in a never-ending hurdle event in the First Year Teacher Olympics" and as one of "growth and reflection."  The extra challenges of the pandemic did not deter her efforts.  Sarah's coworkers admired her determination, sense of humor, and ingenuity.  Her colleague, India Meisel said, "Sarah's strengths lie in the fact that she doesn't act or think as a first-year teacher.  She is not afraid to try new things; she makes every attempt to connect with her students and make her class feel like an inviting space for the kids".

Ms. Albright has incorporated her mastery of technology by increasing student engagement opportunities to create fun and stimulating lessons. 

Despite the struggles of the 2020 school year, Principal Douglas Wagoner affirmed her efforts.  "Albright has taught with grace, dedication, and love for a group of teenagers whom she has never met face to face while still focusing on being her best for her students."

Albright earned her bachelor's degree in Justice Studies at James Madison University and a master's degree in Secondary Education at Old Dominion University.