Teachers of the year recognized

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Members of the Cumberland School Board recognized Teachers of the Year during the April 14 meeting. Honorees included Ashley Nichole Blackwell of Cumberland Elementary County School (CCES), Norma Lauren Crenshaw of Cumberland County High School (CCHS) and Carroll Hugh Gillispie of Cumberland County Middle School (CCMS).

Blackwell has been teaching at CCES for seven years, and has taught grades kindergarten through third grade. She received her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from Longwood University. She serves on the VTSS Committee, attending conferences and co-leading VTSS staff training. In addition, Blackwell also serves on the PBIS Event Committee, assisting with the coordination of PBIS Buy-ins and Duke Pride events and serves on the Division Social Committee.

Blackwell has coordinated four successful Scholastic Book Fairs, with the proceeds used to purchase books for classroom libraries, resources for the Pods, a book for every child who could not purchase one, a mobile STEM cart, and more. She provides engaging learning opportunities that connect students to the real world, including activities such as skyping with scientists. Ginny Gills, principal of CCES, noted that Blackwell is committed to establishing relationships with her students and their families, and that is evident in her positive rapport and classroom management style. Blackwell’s service to Cumberland County Public Schools (CUCPS) spans outside of CCES since she has served as a JV Volleyball coach, Varsity Softball coach and Varsity Soccer coach. In addition, she is a volunteer with the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.

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Crenshaw started her career with CUCPS in 2011, as the technology instructor at CCES, grades pre-K through fifth. At the start of the 2015 school year, she became CUCPS first preschool inclusion teacher for ages 2 through 5. After three years at CCES, she transitioned to CCHS as a special education teacher for grades 9-12. Since becoming an educator with CUCPS, she has earned a Bachelor of Science in Special Education Interdisciplinary Studies, a Master of Arts degree in Teaching with a concentration in Special Education, and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership Program—which were all from Liberty University.

At CCHS, she has assisted in organizing an Autism Awareness Spirit week during the month of April and initiated, “The Crenshaw Selfie,” which is a celebratory feature on social media that announces what each of the seniors plan to do after graduation. In addition to her school activities, Crenshaw has served as a minister and leader in the youth department at her church. She is a native of Brooklyn, New York and is married to her college sweetheart, Andy Crenshaw, who is a CCHS graduate. They have three children, Cheyenne (12), Ariel (9), and AJ (7), who are all students in Cumberland County Schools. She stated that she was very grateful to have been nominated by her colleagues for Teacher of the Year.

Gillispie, who stated that she has always known that she wanted to be a teacher, has been teaching three years at CCMS, where she has taught math to several grade levels of students. For the past two years, she has been the eighth grade department chairperson and the middle school Master Teacher for math and science. She has also taught classes during after-school program and during summer school. Gillispie, who believes it is important to always continue to grow as a professional, entered the RMIN project (Rural Math Initiative Network) lead by VASS in 2017. This department of education funded project allows her to learn and share best math teaching practices by connecting her with math teachers from across the state. Gillispie stated that she loves being able to create an environment where others are free to share their ideas.

Ashley Blackwell was named the Division Teacher of the Year. All three teachers were commended by the members of the Cumberland School Board for their achievement.