Staunton High School’s Lori Peltonen, a library/media specialist and educator for 30 years, is the 2023 Region V Teacher of the Year.
Peltonen, according to a press release, served as a middle school teacher for 13 years and a media specialist for 17 years.
“She uses the role as media specialist to create a more dynamic all-in-one position that has the potential to positively impact every person in the building,” a press release stated. “She routinely collaborates with classroom teachers for direct work with students, goes on home visits to provide students with needed resources, submits and receives grants to expand student experiences, and models kindness to all, being recognized as a ‘SCS Kindness Ambassador.’”
After selection by her Staunton High colleagues and a SCS panel, Peltonen was named Staunton City Schools Teacher of the Year for 2022. Her application to the Virginia Department of Education included essays about her accomplishments, educational philosophies and community involvement.
“I am inspired daily by my coworkers and students. The Teacher of the Year Award is especially meaningful because I was chosen by my amazing colleagues for doing a job I love. Furthermore, this award serves as a reminder of the value of the many specialists who are also teachers: counselors, psychologists, ITRTs, administrators, etc.,” Peltonen wrote in her application.
“There are approximately 100,000 teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, people who dedicate their lives to inspiring young people to achieve to their highest potential,” Virginia Department of Education representative Dr. Leslie Sale said at Staunton High in a staff meeting Tuesday. “Among these thousands of individuals, Mrs. Lori Peltonen has been selected to represent not only your school, not only the city of Staunton, but the entire Valley Region of Virginia.”
After celebratory applause, Staunton High Principal Nate Collins said he has “rarely encountered a teacher who has had such an expansive, positive school-wide impact as Ms. Peltonen,” in his 20 years as a public school administrator. “She is self-less, creative, efficient, and is an incredible problem solver. Her colleagues rely on her for support, resources, advice, and I rely on her to fill needs throughout our school. She makes significant contributions to our positive school climate and is instrumental to creating a positive experience for all our students.”
“Mrs. Peltonen maintains a consistent focus on making learning relevant, forming a positive connection with students and families, and providing the teamwork and leadership necessary to make a collective impact in Staunton City Schools,” Staunton City School Executive Director of Instruction Stephanie Haskins said. “We are so proud to honor her as the Staunton High, Staunton City and now Region V Teacher of the Year.”
On Sept. 30, Peltonen will participate in an interview for the 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and attend a reception hosted by the First Lady of Virginia where a final decision and announcement of Virginia Teacher of the Year will be made.
Region V includes the cities of Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Lexington, and Buena Vista, and Rockingham, Rockbridge, Nelson, Louisa, Highland, Greene, Fluvanna, Campbell, Bedford, Bath, Augusta, Amherst and Albemarle counties.