Albemarle County Public Schools Announces 2023-24 Teacher of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year

Albemarle County Public Schools Announces 2023-24 Teacher of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year


(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) is delighted to name the 2023-24 Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year.

Sarah Reyes

Sarah Reyes, an English and geometry teacher and the English Learners (EL) Department Chair at Albemarle High School (AHS), has been awarded the distinction of ACPS 2023-24 Teacher of the Year.

According to AHS Assistant Principal Leilani Keys, Sarah Reyes is the true embodiment of the goals of ACPS. In fact, she attributes the school’s decrease in chronic absenteeism in part to Reyes and her team’s work with students.

“When other teachers or staff members cannot get ahold of students and parents to address barriers to attendance, Sarah Reyes’ outreach is often instrumental in increasing student and family engagement,” Keys said. “When we sit in student success meetings to strategize around improving attendance and achievement, Sarah is always there to say, ‘I’ll call them; I have their number,’ or, ‘This family needs support; here’s what we can do.’”

In addition to her work directly with families and students around absenteeism, Reyes has also helped form several cultural groups within the school community, including the Latinx Club, the Latino Mentorship Program, and Latino Family Forums since she began teaching at AHS more than seven years ago.

“In our strategic plan, Learning for All, ACPS commits, in part, to developing a culturally responsive environment that respects and champions the diversity of life experiences of all,” Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas said. “Ms. Reyes is a shining example of a teacher who is ensuring that we uphold this commitment to our community, and we are grateful to spotlight the work that she’s done toward this goal.”

Reyes’ passion, she said, is to do what she can to lower the dropout rate of EL learners. According to the United States Department of Education, the EL dropout rate nationally is about 29%. Many factors can contribute to a student’s decision to drop out, Reyes said, like financial issues, family issues, or a lack of knowledge of the education requirements in the United States.

“It’s a topic close to my heart, as I empathize with the pressures faced by newly arrived students who must navigate a new country with significant responsibilities,” she said. “As a lifelong innovator, I strive to create solutions, alternative routes, and enhanced support systems to ensure students receive the best education despite challenging circumstances.”

In addition to receiving the distinction of the ACPS 2023-24 Teacher of the Year, Reyes will move forward as the ACPS nomination for the Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year competition.

Carla Dodson

Carla Dodson, Fiscal Administrator I at Virginia L. Murray Elementary School (MES), has been selected as ACPS 2023-24 Classified Employee of the Year.

“In every organization, there are individuals whose contributions go beyond the ordinary. Someone who has a unique set of skills and qualities and who can create an atmosphere of unparalleled support,” Heather Solga, a teacher at MES and a colleague of Dodson, said. “For Murray Elementary, Carla is that person.”

Dodson, who has been with ACPS since 2011, when she began her time at ACPS as a bus driver, and at Murray since 2014 as an office support staff member, goes the extra mile for her community, according to the colleagues and parents who nominated her for this distinction.

Leslie Ratan, a parent of students at MES and a member of the school’s PTO, recalled meeting Dodson for the first time in 2014 when she and her son made an unscheduled stop at the school to drop off enrollment paperwork.

“On that day, Carla kindly stopped what she was doing and took a few minutes to show [my son] around the school,” Ratan said. “Unsurprisingly, this made him feel welcome and much more confident in starting a new school in a new state.”

“Ms. Dodson’s unwavering dedication to our students, our staff, and our community embodies the mission, vision and values of ACPS,” Haas said. “We are so fortunate to have her on our team and are thrilled to honor her contributions to our community in this way.”

Pictured: Sarah Reyes (top) and Carla Dodson

This release was updated on April 29, 2024, to correct the national dropout rate for English Learners (about 29%).

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