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HCS teachers complete two-year Teacher Leader Program


Forty-eight Hampton City Schools teachers recently completed the Teacher Leader Program. The HCS teacher leadership series is a two-year comprehensive professional learning program designed by Dr. Kim Richardson and Heather Peterson.


“When it launched in 2016, the goal of the program was to ‘reproduce’ the training we provided to our division-level instructional coaches,” said Richardson. “However, we quickly discovered that coaches and teachers' leadership development needs were not the same.”


The series presents eight mini-classes under four major focus areas: communication, collaboration, leadership, and professional learning. There is a required introduction prerequisite offered at various times during the summer and then each semester, two classes are offered. Any educator with 3+ years of experience are invited to participate. However, the unique fact about this series is that it also serves as the HCS 5-Year Induction Program's last two years of activities. 


Why is the series two years long? Peterson shared, “Adults need time to take in the new information, experience and reflect on the content in their work setting, and make sense of their learning.”


Richardson adds, “We know that as professionals continue to learn and grow they are solidifying their personal and professional sense of self. Our vision is to build teachers and grow leaders. By the time you are completing your fifth year in HCS, you should have the tools to be successful with your students and the colleagues you work with. We overemphasize that leadership is not about a role or a position or a title. We do not want teachers to feel they have to leave their classroom in order to lead.”


Antoinette Tortorici of Peake Elementary School shared, “I learned leadership is not a title. Leadership is a verb.”


“I learned just how to be a leader especially to my team. I learned how to step up because I never saw myself as being a leader before,” said Crystal Gonzalez of Bryan Elementary School. “I just learned how to lead my team and how to not be afraid to take on leadership roles. This really helped me step out of my comfort zone.”


Kari Espada of Hampton High School said, “I learned a multitude of information. I have a network to lean on, ask questions, and celebrate with. I came into Hampton and Virginia not knowing anyone and now I have a network across all of the peninsula and the state.”


The following teachers completed the program during the 2021-2022 school year:

Allen, Taylor - Phenix PreK-8

Benbow (Hunt), Margaret - Phenix PreK-8

Bias, Sedra - Asbury Elementary

Burdette, Laura - Syms Middle

Christian, Jamal - Langley Elementary

Cochran, Olivia - Bethel High

Coppedge, Faith - Syms Middle

Cornell (Stewart), Lindsey - Asbury Elementary

Espada, Kari - Hampton High

Farries, Courtney - Jones Magnet Middle

Godfrey, Canda - Bryan Elementary

Gonzalez, Crystal - Bryan Elementary

Harris, Lindsey - Machen Elementary

Hassell, Amanda - Patrick Elementary

Hogge, Timothy - Kecoughtan High

Jones, Brandi - Bassette Elementary

Jones, Sierra - Bethel High

Jumper, Sydney - Kraft Elementary

Keyes, Shanika - Phenix PreK-8

Kimbrough, James - Kecoughtan High

Kuznia, Carol - Smith Elementary

LaBreck (Coon), Elizabeth - Phoebus High

Largo, Ma Elena - Syms Middle

Leake, Jonathan - Patrick Middle

Lee, Chanel - Bethel High

Maxsom-Taylor, Marques - Syms Middle

McKay, Joanna - Langley Elementary

Mitchell, Marietta - Hampton High

Muschweck, Constance - Andrews PreK-8

Philbeck, Amanda - Kraft Elementary

Poole, Mariah - Lindsay Middle

Reese, Jesse - Phenix PreK-8

Richardson, Leah - Phenix PreK-8

Rowland, Christin - Andrews PreK-8

Russell, Carolynn - Syms Middle

Rydzak, Krista - Peake Elementary

Sidebottom, Steven - Hampton High

Sorrell, Heather - Syms Middle

Spencer, Aleta - Hampton High

Tortorici, Antoinette - Peake Elementary

Tran, April - Armstrong School for the Arts

Trueblood, Jason - Kilgore Gifted Center

Turnitsa, Melissa - Asbury Elementary

VanDenheede, Jan - Kraft Elementary

Veitz, Joseph - Hampton High

Wagner, Mackenzie - Bethel High

Whipple, Austin - Bryan Elementary

Whiteside, Nicole  Langley Elementary