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APS Teacher of the Year – High School
Langston High School Continuation Program
Iris Gibson, Langston’s Economics/Personal Finance, Entrepreneurship, Accounting, and Computer Applications teacher has been named Arlington Public School’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Gibson has been an APS educator for 7 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Masters in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She received her teaching certification from the Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. Prior to joining APS in 2016, Gibson worked as a teacher-collaborative committee member for the Richmond Federal Reserve bank, as a Lecturer for the Department of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Marketing at Marymount Virginia, and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Economics as Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.
In addition to her role as teacher, Gibson also volunteers to run the school store, where all the profits are returned to the school to support various activities and student needs. Within the county, Mrs. Gibson is the CTE lead teacher for Business, Marketing, and IT.
“In all her roles, Ms. Gibson brings dedication and professionalism beyond all expectations,” Sun Wilkoff, a colleague of Gibson, wrote in her nomination essay.
“Ms. Gibson is one of the first teachers to arrive at school and the last teacher to leave. Each day she meticulously evaluates her lesson plans to make sure she is meeting the learning and emotional needs of her students,” Wilkof said.
This is not a simple task, as 90% of her students are either English Language Learners, students with disabilities, or both. She works closely with the EL and special education teachers to work collaboratively for the success of all students in her class. Even though it was not required, Gibson passed the ESOL Praxis exam to be better equipped to support her EL students. “This is typical of Ms. Gibson; she is continuously seeking opportunities to refine her skills through professional development opportunities and taking new courses in her content area,” Wilkoff wrote.
Gibson’s dedication to her students can also be seen in the time and effort she dedicates fostering relationships with her students. When her students talk, she listens, and takes a genuine interest in their welfare and their lives. She never hesitates to offer her assistance and time when students need help. “It is common to see Ms. Gibson at school on a Saturday helping students prepare for the W!SE exam, or working with students after school helping them write resumes or complete job applications,” Wilkoff said. “Students know they can trust Ms. Gibson to help them. This is evidenced by the many students who continue to stay in touch with her long after graduation.”
Gibson’s dedication to teaching became even more evident when schools were suddenly moved online due to the pandemic. She immediately adapted and learned all the new technology to be able to teach effectively online. She soon became the go-to person at Langston for help with technology. With patience and understanding, Gibson helped other teachers, sometimes for hours at a time, transition to online teaching.
Gibson will serve as Arlington’s nominee for the 2022 Virginia Teacher of the Year Award and is one of the metropolitan area teachers who will be recognized as a finalist for The Washington Post 2022 Teacher Award.
Middle School Teacher of the Year
Williamsburg Middle School
Katie Willet, a teacher at Williamsburg Middle School, is the APS Middle School Teacher of the Year.
As a teacher who holds National Board Certification (NBCT), Willet is a leader within the school when it comes to personalized learning. “She has organized her seventh-grade science class in such a way that students set their own individualized learning goals and pursue learning activities at their own pace,” Hayley Post, a colleague of Willet wrote in her nomination essay. “She has worked closely with university professors in her field to gain a deeper knowledge of personalized learning, and continues to implement and refine best practices in her classroom daily.” Willet’s expertise has led to her presenting at national conferences for science educators.
Willet instills in her students self-awareness of learning styles and time management. “It is exciting to listen to her students, some of whom are future scientists in the making, converse behind the scenes about their science fair topics,” Post wrote. “She recognizes students’ potential and pushes them to be their best versions of themselves. Her rigorous teaching methods prepare students for eighth grade and beyond.”
Willet is a leader in her school community. She has invested a tremendous amount to serving in various leadership roles. She has been the school’s Instructional Lead Teacher and has served as team leader many times over the years. She also serves on the Teachers’ Council on Instruction, where she tirelessly advocates for the needs of students and staff. “In between all these extra meetings she somehow finds time to show up with treats, including homemade pop tarts made with homemade jam,” Post wrote.
Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Arlington Science Focus School
Brittany Oman, a special education teacher at Arlington Science Focus School, is the APS Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“Ms. Oman stands out among other candidates because of her constant quest for learning, her creativity and her love for the diverse students she works with every day,” Abby Tolkan, a colleague of Oman, wrote in her nomination essay.
As a special education teacher, Oman has worked at all grade levels and in a variety of teaching models. She works diligently with her students, colleagues, and families to show progress each year. Her IEP writing and data collection are impeccable and clearly support the students’ needs and strengths.
“Ms. Oman proudly integrates diversity, inclusion, and equity into her daily lessons,” Tolkan said. “It has been phenomenal to witness students’ connection to books with families that look like theirs, or which portray a disability that students see in their daily lives.”
This year, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, Oman has revamped the school’s Student Council Association. “Her passion for supporting students and developing young minds into thinkers and believers led to one of our most diverse student council races to date and most inclusive slate of candidates chosen. She goes above and beyond to reach all students and make them feel that they can make a difference in our ASFS community,” Tolkan wrote.