Chesterfield County’s school district is holding a gala tonight for some of the top teachers working in the county schools, including Tara Brunyansky, who was recognized as the teacher of the year for the county and the region.
The Gold Star Gala, which is sponsored by the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation, honors the Teacher of the Year at each individual school, as well as three educators receiving the Beginning Teacher Award.
In Chesterfield, each county school chooses a teacher of the year. School officials then honor one teacher from the elementary, middle and high school levels before selecting one as the countywide teacher of the year.
Brunyansky, a chemistry teacher at James River High School, was named the 2015 Teacher of the Year in May.
In addition to Brunyansky, Chesterfield named Chuck Rhode, a music teacher at J.B. Watkins Elementary, as the county’s elementary school teacher of the year.
Debbie Bailey, who teaches civics and economics at Carver Middle School, was named Chesterfield’s middle school teacher of the year.
Brunyansky also was named Region 1 Teacher of the Year last month. She is now among eight teachers from across
Virginia in the running to be the top teacher in the state.
Brunyansky, who started teaching at James River in 2006 after 10 years at Thomas Dale High, said she tries to break down topics to make them simple and to relate them to things students can understand.
Part of her teaching style includes showing the kids how chemistry works through demonstrations and experiments.
“By asking them questions, it helps them develop the concepts I’m trying to get across. Instead of telling them what they should see or what they should learn from it, I show them things and let them develop that,” she said in May.
Brunyansky, who has a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, including one in pharmaceutical/forensic drug chemistry from the University of Florida, started a forensic chemistry program at James River.
Tonight’s gala, which is closed to the public, is at the Double Tree by Hilton on Koger Center Boulevard.
The counties of Henrico and Hanover and the city of Richmond have events for their teachers later in the school year.