Tuck, Pellegrino Named Loudoun’s Educators of the Year

Two men who work in two of the county’s most diverse elementary schools have been named Loudoun’s top educators of the year.

John Tuck, a fifth grade teacher at Rolling Ridge Elementary in Sterling, won the Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Award, which doubles as Loudoun County Public Schools’ 2016 Teacher of the Year Award. Evergreen Mill Elementary Principal Michael Pellegrino received the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader Award, which also serves as Loudoun’s 2016 Principal of the Year Award.

The awards were announced at a School Board meeting Tuesday.

In a video played at the board meeting, Rolling Ridge Principal Lottie Spurlock credited Tuck for helping students make big gains on standardized state exams. “Often times people only think of the challenges, but when we can rise above those that’s powerful,” she said.

Tuck said that he has only worked in schools with a high population of students from low-income families. But he’s seen it as an opportunity to make a difference in kids’ lives. “A lot of our students don’t get as much support from home. … So what they get at school is really meaningful to them.”

Evergreen Mill Elementary Principal Michael Pellegrino
Evergreen Mill Elementary Principal Michael Pellegrino

Pellegrino, who’s served as principal of Evergreen Mill Elementary in Leesburg for five years, was credited for being open to out-of-the-box ideas to give students everything they need to learn. He was one of the first principals to usher in the Backpack Buddies program, which now sends weekend meals home with 155 students. He also embraced a parent’s idea to launch a mentor and tutoring program called Study Buddies.

Pellegrino became principal of Evergreen Mill Elementary in Leesburg in 2011 after the death of Laurie McDonald, the 2000 Principal of the Year. His nomination packet noted that more than 50 percent of the school’s staff had followed McDonald from her previous schools, leading to some nervousness about her replacement.

“The odds were definitely stacked against him. However, he accepted the position and took on the challenge,” the nomination noted. “He did so with dignity, empathy and thoughtfulness, earning him the respect of staff, students and community members. This helped to foster the building block of strong management, trust.”

Pellegrino called the award icing on the cake. The cake, he explained, was the nomination that the school’s staff and parents volunteering put together. “It’s great to win the award, but to know that you have people who support you and what you’re doing is really the honor,” he said.


One thought on “Tuck, Pellegrino Named Loudoun’s Educators of the Year

  • 2016-04-13 at 1:59 pm

    These are exceptional educators. While the videos and introductions noted many of their accomplishments, it’s unfortunate that Loudoun didn’t include effectiveness statistics. Evergreen Mill and Rolling Ridge had great SOL scores. But when you account for individual student growth (known as value-added metrics), both of their scores were off the charts. These educators are literally adding $100K’s in future income for their students every year over and above what a normal teacher would provide.

    While we consider our budget priorities for FY17, let us reflect on how we reward these educators. While they certainly didn’t enter education for the money, other districts have found ways to reward such high fliers so they are sure to remain in their system. In Dallas, teachers who show great results (VAMs) and take on other responsibilities as Mr. Tuck has (mentor, dept leads, etc.) can advance to the top of the pay scale in just 8 years. Mr. Tuck is in his 9th year and has not yet attained his masters degree. He earns roughly half of what a 30-yr masters degree teacher with a NBCT cert earns. Think about that for a second. If Tuck were a salesperson, an athlete, a newscaster, or any of a number of other professions, would he be earning half of what less effective employees earn in the exact same role simply because we give unions so much power?

    Kudos to both of these educators and their peers at RRES and EMES. The lone silver lining in the Leesburg rezoning was to recognize what an amazing job both of these schools are doing. I surely hope their miraculous efforts are not taken for granted and more resources are provided in the upcoming years. Both schools are under-resourced.

Leave a Reply