They’ve shown the right stuff at their respective schools and now have earned recognition.
The Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce on June 7 honored three people each from Langley and McLean high schools for their outstanding work.
McLean High’s winners were:
• Philena Sun, Student of the Year: Sun, a junior, maintains a grade-point average higher than 4.0 and over the past two years has taken seven Advanced Placement classes. She last year became president of the newly formed McMatics math-tutoring organization and has taken elective courses in wide variety of subjects, including marking, debate and journalism.
Her philosophy can be summed up in the three words that grace a T-shirt she received as a Human Resources Management Event finalist at the International Conference for DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America): “Wake-Study-Slay.”
• Jennifer Choumil, Teacher of the Year: Choumil, who previously worked as a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Human Genome Research Institute, began teaching biology/anatomy at McLean High in 2008.
Her nominators credited Choumil for motivating and engaging all her students and recognizing they had differing abilities and learning styles. In addition to using the latest technology to help students learn science, she also is a team player at the school, and mentors first-year teachers.
• Ann Johnson, Employee of the Year: An instructional assistant in McLean High’s special-education department for the past 18 years and a fixture at Special Olympic events, Johnson sets a high standard for her colleagues and has learned about technology to meet her students’ needs.
“Ann has a knack for understanding students’ disabilities without surrendering to them; of registering misbehaviors and mistakes without indulging them; of truly celebrating the children as they are our students, both inside and outside the classroom,” her nominators said.
Langley High’s winners were:
• Brenna Butler, Student of the Year: Butler, a junior, is heavily involved with – and a major recruiter for – the school’s Best Buddies program, which pairs disabled students with the “neuro-typical” peers.
Butler is a positive influence at Langley High and smiles often.
“Brenna greets everyone with a kind word and goes out of her way to make every member of the Langley community feel welcome,” said those who nominated her. “Other students look up to Brenna and can count on her as both a friend and a leader.”
• Matt Kissling, Teacher of the Year: Kissling has been part of Langley High’s faculty for 10 years and has taught government and history at both the standard and Advanced Placement levels. He has coordinated the school’s Ethics Day program and now coaches its state-champion Scholastic Bowl team.
Kissling spends a great deal of time grading students’ work, offering suggestions and providing rationales for grades.
“I think Matt is one of the best teachers I have worked with,” wrote principal Fred Amico. “I would be happy to have my own kids in his class.”
• Norma Jamsheed, Employee of the Year: An administrative assistant and “heart and soul of Langley High School,” Jamsheed keeps the school running efficiently and helps everyone navigate difficulties, her nominators said. She has an extensive list of contacts who desire to do her favors and always knows whom to call to accomplish tasks. That person often is not the one listed in the phone book, school officials said.
“She is kind and empathetic in dealing with everyone who comes through her office,” nominators said. “Norma is truly an indispensable person at Langley.”
Chamber chairman Marcus Simon, a McLean High graduate, said the honorees’ contributions strengthen Fairfax County Public Schools, which are an important draw for the county. Simon especially singled out the teaching award winners, saying his 11- and 14-year-old children attend county schools and admire their teachers.
“We’re living in a time where I think kids like that really need good role models, adults they can look up to, respect and learn from how to behave as adults and be adults,” he said. “You guys are really important. I know it first-hand from talking to my kids.”