Wakefield High School social studies teacher Michelle Cottrell-Williams was named Virginia Region 4 Teacher of the Year during a surprise visit to her class this morning by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. Cottrell-Williams was named the Arlington Public Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year last spring, and is now one of eight teacher finalists for the 2018 Virginia Regional Teacher of the Year Award.
The teacher finalists were selected from among 132 candidates nominated by school divisions in each of the state’s eight superintendents’ regions. The candidates submitted portfolios highlighting their accomplishments, educational philosophies and community activities.
Cottrell-Williams has been an educator for 10 years, all of which have been at Wakefield. She is the lead classroom teacher of World History II, U.S. and Virginia Government, AP European History, Sociology and senior project.
She holds a Bachelor of Science from Utah State University, and earned Master’s degrees from The George Washington University and George Mason University. To see her at work inside her classroom with students, watch this year’s Teacher of the Year video profile, produced by AETV.
Arlington Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said, “Michelle is an outstanding teacher who forges strong relationships with students and is innovative in her approach to teaching. She is able to reach a wide range of students by implementing the latest instructional strategies and technologies into her classroom.”
Her lesson plans incorporate a variety of strategies and methodologies to help all students understand the material. Wakefield Principal Dr. Chris Willmore said, “Ms. Cottrell-Williams is a dynamic educator who focuses on student learning. When you enter her class, you will find students actively involved in the lesson, engaged in dynamic discussions, participating in simulations or analyzing texts.”
About the Virginia and National Teacher of the Year Awards
A panel, including classroom teachers, representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community and 2017 Virginia Teacher of the Year Toney McNair Jr. of Indian River Middle in Chesapeake reviewed the portfolios and selected the eight regional teachers of the year. Next week, the same panel will interview each of the eight regional teachers to select the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year. The decision will be announced on September 18 during a ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.
The 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year will be the Commonwealth’s nominee in the National Teacher of the Year Program, which is awarded annually by the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the Voya Financial. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teachers of the Year.