Nearly two decades ago, Greenlee Naughton was on maternity leave from her corporate job when, in the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting, school safety was being publicly questioned.
Instead of watching from afar, the national tragedy impelled her to act — Naughton, who initially minored in education to appease her career-educator parents, renewed her teaching license and landed a teaching gig in a matter of months.
On Tuesday, the English teacher at Highland Springs High School was named Henrico County Public Schools’ Gilman Teacher of the Year during a late-afternoon assembly at Glen Allen High School.
“This is one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Naughton said after she accepted the award onstage. “I’m completely grateful but totally amazed.”
Naughton, who worked as an English teacher in Hanover County for eight years, started at Highland Springs three years ago. She heads the school’s English department and said she works alongside hardworking colleagues who “perform miracles” each day.
Pam Bell, the principal at Highland Springs, said Naughton’s influence extends beyond her classroom.
“I would certainly want my child in her class,” she said. “She’s not just a teacher in the classroom. She’s part of the thread of Highland Springs High School.”
Faculty in the county’s school system made nominations for the honor, which takes its name from a fictional character devised for a Henrico school play years ago. The nominees then submitted an application and personal essay discussing issues in education.
Finalists from each magisterial district were chosen and then interviewed by a selection committee, which also heard presentations from the nominees.
Teachers of the year in the counties of Hanover and Chesterfield are expected to be announced in coming weeks. In Richmond, Clary Carleton, a teacher at Open High School, was named the school division’s teacher of the year in November.
In addition to the Teacher of the Year, the Henrico school district named Sarah Delaney, an English teacher at Holman Middle School, the first-year Teacher of the Year.
Three others in the school division were also given the Chris Corallo Distinguished Leadership Award:
- Emily Stains, an English teacher at Varina High School;
- Ryan Stein, the principal at Greenwood Elementary School; and
- Linda Thompson, an assistant director of professional development.