On Thursday, September 6, 2018, Ms. Ashley Blackwell, a first grade teacher at Cumberland Elementary School (CES) was notified by Dr. Kent Dickey from the Department of Education during a school assembly that she had been selected to be the Region 8 Teacher of the Year for 2019. Ms. Blackwell, who thought she was attending a routine school gathering, was taken by surprise when the announcement was made.
Ms. Blackwell is a graduate of Longwood University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree. She has been a teacher at Cumberland Elementary School since the 2011-2012 school year. During her tenure at CES, she has served as a mentor teacher; was a member of the VTSS committee; has served on the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) committee; has provided professional development for other staff members; has assisted with the Duke Pride events; has served on the division Social Committee; and has coordinated four successful Scholastic Book Fairs, where the profits were used to purchase books and materials for classrooms. Ms. Blackwell has also coached softball, soccer, and volleyball for Cumberland County Public Schools (CUCPS).
A native of Cumberland, Ms. Blackwell has been very active in the community, volunteering for multiple organizations including the Christmas Mother, the Cumberland Food Pantry, and Impact Virginia. In addition, she has served as a teacher and assistant director for Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist Church.
Ms. Blackwell, described by her principal, Mrs. Ginny Gills, as enthusiastic and passionate about teaching, has been commended for her creativity and for using a variety of instructional strategies to support learning. She uses flexible seating options, incorporates STEM activities into lessons, engages students through music and movement, and connects students to the real world with activities such as skyping with scientists and seeing the world through Flat Stanley’s adventures.
Mrs. Gills stated, “Ms. Blackwell is committed to meeting the needs of all students both at school and in the community” and noted that she was truly deserving of being named Region 8 Teacher of the Year.