They knew something was up when there was cake at a special SOL meeting and the superintendent of schools was there.
During a brief, surprise ceremony in the school library Tuesday afternoon, John Gandy Elementary School’s Christina Saunders, a reading specialist, was named Hanover County’s Teacher of the Year.
“I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m very honored by this and I couldn’t have done it without such wonderful support from all my friends at Gandy. You make my job easy,” Saunders said.
Superintendent Jamelle Wilson also thanked the full staff at JGES before praising Saunders.
“I know without a shadow of a doubt that what we do every day and what we accomplish every day is because of each one of you. You love children. They know it. Their parents know it. The community knows it. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said.
Wilson said that Saunders possesses all of the professional characteristics that enable success as an instructional leader and has a deep and thorough understanding of how children learn and how learning difficulties can affect learning.
Wilson also praised the passion that Saunders demonstrates at John Gandy.
“She goes the extra mile to engage every student in our school in the learning process,” Wilson said.
Saunders was behind a reading program challenging JGES students to read for a combined 1 million minutes. Saunders also established a school-wide vocabulary program called “Fish for Dazzling Words.”
“Here are a few dazzling words used to describe the impact she makes on a daily basis: Bravo! Fantastic! Exceptional! Professional!” Wilson said.
Before delving into what she characterized as an overzealous cake, JGES Principal Leigh Finch praised the extra effort Saunders demonstrates.
“Christina, we are so proud of you, and thank you for everything you do for our children, for our teachers, and for our families,” Finch said. “There couldn’t be a more deserving person.”