When Gregory Lyndaker first started teaching in Henrico County Public Schools almost seven years ago, he was focused on simply surviving.
The Henrico High School psychology teacher said he had never imagined winning any of the accolades he did this week, when he was named the county’s Teacher of the Year.
“My students, my department and my administrators have all pushed me to become the teacher I’ve always wanted to be — the one my students need,” he said in an interview after the honor was announced Tuesday.
Henrico school officials recognized Lyndaker in a ceremony at Glen Allen High School where dozens of county teachers were also recognized for their service.
Lyndaker was one of five finalists for the award, each representing the county district where their respective schools are located.
The other finalists were Emilia Texler of Hermitage High School; Kareem Texler of Deep Run High School; Sharon Middleton of Skipwith Elementary; and Chris Moseley of Varina High School.
The school division also honored Chamberlayne Elementary School music teacher Amelia Kirchgessner as First-Year Teacher of the Year and Sarah Gordon of Lakeside Elementary School as the special education teacher of the year.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Lyndaker said of winning the top county school division award. “You look around and see all these educators that do these amazing things — you don’t always feel adequate, but it’s a great honor.”
In videos shown during Tuesday’s ceremony, students of each distinguished teacher talked about their experiences in the classroom.
Lyndaker’s students said he has a way of teaching them in a playful, engaging and thought-provoking way that’s unique and energizing.
Originally from upstate New York, Lyndaker comes from a family of educators and school guidance counselors.
In remarks to the audience Tuesday, he said those relatives and his father, a history teacher, taught him that passion and education could give all people a chance to succeed in life.
“There were a lot of Thanksgiving meals talking about their school systems, things that could be done better and how to be a great teacher and be there for your kids,” Lyndaker said.
Karin Castillo-Rose, the principal at Henrico High School, said she was not surprised to see him win the award.
She said Lyndaker, who is also leading a team in charge of implementing a student-focused, experience-based teaching model, has also been an inspiration to his colleagues.
“He’s such an integral part of Henrico,” Castillo-Rose said. “He knows how to connect with his students. I see greatness day in and day out.”