Congratulations to the 2020--2021 IWCS Teachers of the Year! The overall Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers of the Year will be announced in March and the division-wide Teacher of the Year in April.
Shea Wilde is a seventeen-year veteran teacher in her fifth year of teaching third grade at Carrollton Elementary School. Prior to joining the Carrollton Elementary staff, she taught for twelve years, working with kindergarteners, first graders, and third graders. Mrs. Wilde is originally from Texas, but has spent the last twenty-three years in Virginia with her husband, four children, and three grandchildren. She earned her Associates Degree from Tidewater Community College and went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Christopher Newport University and then her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Regent University. While at Carrollton Elementary, Mrs. Wilde has had the privilege to mentor three new teachers to Isle of Wight County Schools. She has also served as a school representative for various reading and math initiatives, as well as the building’s representative on the Teacher Advisory Council. With a passion that comes from her desire to be a part of her students’ educational journey and to witness their personal growth, Mrs. Wilde strives to teach through empowerment and advocacy.
Lynn Taplin is in her second year as the Library Media Specialist and Coding teacher at Carrsville Elementary School. Prior to coming to Isle of Wight County Schools, she taught second, third, and fourth grade for five years in Hampton City Schools. She also taught preschool and first grade for three years in Franklin City Public Schools. Mrs. Taplin is orginially from Londonderry, New Hampshire. She started her college career at Bryant University studying Business Administration. She then earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of South Carolina, respectively. Mrs Taplin’s desire to work in education led her to complete the Career Switcher program and then her master’s degree in Library Science at Old Dominion University. Responsibilities that Mrs. Taplin currently holds include administrative aide, school information officer, 1:1 device process coordinator, and member of the school leadership team. Mrs. Taplin creates a safe, supportive learning environment where she uses hands-on experiences and empowering activities to help her students understand that learning is a process. She develops strong relationships with students, families, and fellow educators to ensure that each child’s physical, emotional, and academic needs are being met. Mrs. Taplin lives in Isle of Wight county with her husband and daughter, who is a student in the division.
Jennifer Haislip is a third grade English Language Arts teacher at Hardy Elementary School. She is in her third year of teaching, all of which have been at Hardy Elementary. Mrs. Haislip is a product of Isle of Wight County Schools and received her Master of Science in Elementary Education from Old Dominion University. She was born and raised in Isle of Wight County and currently resides in Smithfield with her husband and son who is a student in the division. Teaching is her passion and Mrs. Haislip prides herself on the positive relationships she builds with her students. She dedicates herself to providing a safe, nurturing, and supportive learning environment for her students while delivering meaningful learning experiences. Mrs. Haislip has served on the K-4 English/Language Arts Curriculum Committee, is a Level 1 Google Certified Instructor, and is certified in both Handle with Care Behavior Management System and the VA Regulations in the Use of Seclusion and Restraint.
Erica Newcomb is starting her second year of teaching sixth grade mathematics at Westside Elementary. She had six years of experience teaching before coming to Isle of Wight County. Mrs. Newcomb has taught Kindergarten, second grade, third grade, and fifth grade for both Portsmouth Public Schools and the Department of Defense Education Activity in Rota, Spain. Originally from Norristown, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Newcomb completed 21 years of active duty service in the United States Navy. She has a Bachelor's degree in Social Science from Chapman University, a Masters of Elementary Education degree from Regent University, a Masters of Mathematics Leadership degree from Regent University, and she is currently working on a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with Liberty University. Mrs. Newcomb’s classroom is an engaging environment where she utilizes various types of activities that cater to the different learning styles of her students. She always makes the lessons relevant and interactive to ensure the students are able to work out problems and solve them with critical thinking. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Newcomb is an active participant on the IWCS “Return to Learn” committee that was instrumental in presenting Superintendent Dr. Thornton with concerns and suggestions from school employees on improvements to the new style of teaching during the pandemic. Mrs. Newcomb lives in Suffolk, Virginia with her husband. Together they have four grown children and two grandchildren.
Sara Baughman is a devoted third grade teacher at Windsor Elementary School. In her nine years as a teacher, she has taught second and third grades. She is originally from Carrollton and a proud graduate of Smithfield High School. Mrs. Baughman returned to her hometown after being stationed in Texas and Nebraska with her military family. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Old Dominion University, her Master’s Degree in Teaching from Western Governors University, and most recently her Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. As an elementary teacher, Mrs. Baughman strives to ensure her students communicate, collaborate and treat each other as a classroom family. She gracefully champions her students to be resilient and work hard to reach their goals. In addition to fulfilling her duties as a classroom teacher, she has provided support over several years in the roles of administrative aide, grade level chair, new teacher mentor, and Great Computer Challenge sponsor. She also serves the community as the 1st Vice President of the local Delta Kappa Gamma chapter and as a team manager for Smithfield Soccer Club. Mrs. Baughman lives in Isle of Wight County with her husband and daughter, a student within the district.
Alexandra Hodges is a seventh grade English teacher at Georgie D. Tyler Middle School (GTMS) and in her fourth year of teaching, all of which have been at GTMS. She grew up in the Driver area of Suffolk and graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2014 with a Bachelor's in History. After a few years in the nonprofit sector as a volunteer manager and grant writer, she returned to school at Old Dominion University to earn her teaching degree. Mrs. Hodges provides enthusiastic and student-driven instruction. She is passionate about building lasting relationships with students and takes a "love first, teach second" approach to education. In addition to teaching English, Mrs. Hodges is involved in her school's Leadership Team, has led Professional Development sessions, mentored new teachers, and was a Junior Beta Club Sponsor. Mrs. Hodges actively volunteers in her community at the Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter and with the Woman's Club of Windsor. She lives in Windsor with her husband.
Erin Jewett is a dedicated seventh grade English teacher at Smithfield Middle School (SMS). During her ten years working at SMS, she spent the first seven years teaching seventh grade United States History before switching to her other passion of helping students find their love for reading and writing. Before coming to Isle of Wight County Schools, she spent six years as a fifth grade teacher. Born and raised in Goochland County, Virginia, she graduated from the College of William and Mary with undergraduate degrees in History and Elementary Education in 2005. After her years teaching elementary school, she felt called to middle school, and she added endorsements for 6th - 8th grade Social Studies and English instruction. She always strives to be a resource for other teachers who need help finding ideas and digital tools for this new world of virtual learning. In addition to teaching, she also serves on the School Leadership Team, has helped students start a Dungeons & Dragons club (even though she doesn’t know how to play in the slightest!), and worked on the district’s instructional pacing guides for 7th grade reading and writing. This summer, she also began training to become a CodeVA computer science coach. Her classroom encourages students to truly engage in the learning process through collaboration, technology, and frequent classroom transformations. She has made it a personal mission to make her classroom a place where all students, especially students in special education, feel successful, important, and loved. Mrs. Jewett lives in Portsmouth, Virginia with her husband, nine-year old son, and very silly Labrador Retriever.
Awilda Velez Chambers, a geosciences teacher at Smithfield High School, is in her fourth year of teaching. Before becoming an educator, she was a Geospatial Analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense. During her four years of teaching, she has dedicated herself to learning and implementing the best practices to engage students in hands-on learning, in order to spark wonder and a love of science. Mrs. Velez Chambers has a special passion for teaching students who have not traditionally been successful in school, as she was one herself. Mrs. Velez Chambers grew up in Newport News, Virginia, and went on to become the first in her family to attend university where she graduated with degrees in Geography and Political Science from Virginia Tech. Mrs. Velez Chambers is a co-sponsor of the SHS Green Club where she teaches others to be good stewards of the earth by leading efforts to clean up the campus and local parks. Mrs. Velez Chambers lives in Smithfield with her husband and twin sons.
Leslie Moring is in her second year as a Biology/Dual Enrollment Biology teacher at Windsor High School (WHS). Additionally, she is the assistant Scholastic Bowl coach and the Director of the Tidewater Regional Governor’s School. Before coming to WHS, she spent four years as an Environmental Scientist/Peptide Chemist, two years as a middle school life science teacher, and seven years as a Biology/Dual Enrollment Biology teacher for a neighboring district. Originally from Chester, Virginia, she earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology and her Masters of Science in Environmental Science from Christopher Newport University. Because she is passionate about finding the reason for things, she maintains a structured classroom with high expectations. She has a way of making complex ideas and theories tangible through her engaging and interactive lessons. She encourages students to “think outside the box” and challenges students to solve their own problems. She is in the process of moving to Windsor with her husband, two young daughters, and dog.