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Russell Jennings, Teacher of the year 2017The Fluvanna School Board meeting Wednesday (May 10) was chock full of good things – accomplished students, favorite teachers and staff and employee bonuses.

The Board voted unanimously to give a $400 bonus to all full-time employees of the 2016-17 school year who worked through May 19. Employees should expect to see the money in June.

Each building principal announced the teacher and support staff person of the year for their building.

Superintendent Chuck Winkler then announced who among them got the award for the whole district.

Russell Jennings, the high school agriculture teacher, won the most votes out of the entire school district. Jennings came to Fluvanna schools in 2013 to restart the agricultural program and the Future Farmers club. Since his arrival the program has a greenhouse where students grow and sell vegetables and flowers. Students raise chickens and make pork rinds and apple butter.

The four other school-level teachers of the year are:

  • Robin McKay, special education lead teacher for kindergarten at West Central Primary;
  • Denise Avant, second grade teacher at Central Elementary School;
  • Benita Jackson-Grooms, fourth grade teacher at Carysbrook Elementary School; and
  • Marcus Carter, school counselor at Fluvanna Middle School.

The support staff person of the year for the district is Wanda Morris, the special education team leader at Central Elementary and West Central Primary. Morris has been in Fluvanna schools for 22 years and has also worked as a school secretary.

The other school-level support staff persons of the year are:

  • Mary Rigney of West Central Elementary;
  • Jessica Farmer of Carysbrook Elementary;
  • Katie Cabrera of Fluvanna Middle School; and
  • Patricia Lane of Fluvanna County High School.

Board member Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) announced he is running for re-election.  His time on the Board has been instructional, he said. “I’ve enjoyed learning about how school has changed in the time since I was a student,” Rittenhouse said.

The Board also recognized student artists. Andrew Sheets took first place in the Virginia School Board Association’s art show for high school students. His piece is on display in the governor’s mansion. Peter Wilberger of Central Elementary and Melia Hartling of Fluvanna Middle School also won awards in their divisions.

Fluvanna High School senior Matasha Martin was recognized as the indoor track 3A state champion in the 55-meter hurdles.

Forensic team members Hailey Donald, Jordan Palmer and Madison Stafford were honored for placing second in the 3A state competition.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Gilliam reported on the most recent staff survey, in which 62 percent of the staff weighed in on work environment, building administrative support, professional training and development, professional responsibilities, climate and culture, superintendent’s office and the School Board. Of those responding, 62 percent were teachers. According to the results, staff overwhelmingly was happy with professional development and training opportunities. Attitudes in all categories trended toward positive feelings.

The Board unanimously voted to approve the broadband contract. Work can begin on the project to link all schools and the administration building as early as May 30.

The Board also approved a contract to renovate 20 restrooms in the middle school.

The money for staff bonuses came from extra funds Fluvanna received from the state this year due to class size reduction and basic aid, Winkler said.