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Staunton Schools announces Teachers of the Year for 2023-2024 school year

Rebecca Barnabi
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Every school year, staff at each of Staunton’s schools nominate and vote for one of their own to be a school-level Teacher of the Year.

With criteria outlined by the Commonwealth, a committee selects one representative as the final division-wide Teacher of the Year.

“We are pleased to honor the work of exceptional teachers across the division! Each of the six teachers being recognized demonstrates tremendous thought in their instructional planning, genuine kindness and teamwork that permeates the entire school setting, and instructional impact on the learning of students. The lessons they teach students last a lifetime, leading to long-term positive impacts for our community,” Executive Director of Instruction Stephanie Haskins said.

Susan Eckenrode, a fourth-grade teacher at Bessie Weller Elementary, has been an educator for 32 years. She previously worked as a preschool teacher, second-grade teacher and STEM teacher. The co-author of an article in the Children’s Engineering journal, she supports community science days and garden maintenance, has been a recipient of multiple regional grants and presented at local academies and conferences. Eckenrode was previously named Soil and Conservation Teacher of the Year, State Finalist in National Science Teacher of the Year and Virginia Valley Regional Elementary Engineering Teacher of the Year.

Melody Reynolds is Librarian/ Media Specialist at McSwain Elementary Teacher. In public education for 19 years, she has served children throughout her career. She began as an owner and director of a preschool center, worked as a recreational therapist and an elementary teacher. Reynolds is a member of the Virginia Association of School Librarians and serves as Augusta County Public Library Board of Trustees Representative. She previously was named Teacher of the Year at Cassell Elementary, Virginia Lottery Teacher of the Year and a Dawbarn Education Recipient.

Lisa Shipman, School Improvement Leader at Ware Elementary, has been a teacher for 17 years. She began her career in Stafford County and then the city of Waynesboro as a third-grade teacher and intervention specialist/ instructional coach. She has served on the Staunton City Equity Committee, collaborated with Kiwanis on meals for students and families and the YMCA on summer school partnerships, and led a Virginia Department of Education Inclusion Day Project with community partners. She was previously named Teacher of the Year at Wenonah Elementary and at Grafton Village Elementary in Stafford.

Mrs. Stacey Mooneyham is a business teacher at Shelburne Middle for 16 years, after spending 15 years in the business industry. She also owns and operates Kitch’n Cooked Potato Chip. Mooneyham is a Bridge Christian Church committee member, Highlander for Hope member, and Relay for Life participant. She previously served as a Future Business Leaders of America Advisor and presented at the Association for Middle Level Education conference. She is a representative on Staunton’s Teacher Advisory Council and has been recognized as a SCS Kindness Ambassador.

Kyra Wilson is an Art Teacher at Staunton High. She has taught at the high school for 29 years and is a member of the National Art Education Association, Volunteer Curator of Art for Augusta Medical Center, and created and ran an art club that created murals located throughout the school and one large mural in a local church. She has mentored student teachers and practicum students from local colleges, served as a professional mentor to new staff members, and has been recognized as a SCS Kindness Ambassador.

Debra Combs is a Special Education teacher at Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents. She has worked in public education for 23 years, and has always worked with children. Before becoming a special education teacher for Augusta County High Schools and then CCCA, she took time raise her own children. She maintains clinical faculty certification to support student teachers entering the profession, and serves on Community of Leaders in Autism and Virginia Professional Educators committees, and various committees and teams with Staunton Grace Covenant Church.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.