A high school teacher who started an international student exchange program and an elementary school principal known for doing whatever it takes have received top annual honors from the Loudoun County School Board.
During its meeting Tuesday night, the board recognized Dominion High School’s Jennifer Rodgers as this year’s LCPS Teacher of the Year and Sterling Elementary School Principal Jennifer Meres Short, as LCPS Principal of the Year.
Rodgers, who has taught social sciences and global studies at Dominion since 2005, founded the Loudoun International Youth Leadership Summit in 2012 and serves as its director. The summit brings more than 100 students from 24 countries to Loudoun for 10 days to study world issues. Rodgers has secured more than $40,000 in grants for the program.
Dominion Principal Dr. John Brewer said Rodgers’ efforts have resulted in profound effects on the students, who “frequently experience life-altering encounters with cultural differences and global interdependence that would be impossible to teach in a traditional classroom setting.”
Rodgers was chosen from among 37 nominations from across the county. She teaches her students to think about not only being good U.S. citizens, but what it takes to be good global citizens. More than 500 families have hosted international students through the program.
“This all started with an idea, and your efforts to make it happen, said Board Member Debbie Rose (Algonkian). “You create these international connections that can only be beneficial in the future and across the globe.”
Principal at Sterling Elementary since 2013, Short is described by her staff as a person who “takes on any job that needs to be done.” School counselor Suzanne Hunt stated that a visitor to Sterling Elementary might find the principal anywhere in the school.
“If there is a need for a substitute in the cafeteria, you may find her serving up breakfast or lunch. Or if there is a snake in the building, she may be found assisting with the removal,” she noted, adding that she admires how “no job is too big or too small” for Short, who also possesses a keen attention for details.
“Not only does Mrs. Short know every child’s name, but she also knows the academic, behavioral and social needs of each student,” stated first grade teacher Kathy Hayden. “She maintains a visible presence throughout the school and works behind the scenes to find resources to support struggling families.”
Assistant principal Colt Fletcher noted that Sterling Elementary is like “one big family” driven by the motto established by Short: Every child, every day, whatever it takes.
“Every child can succeed if we’re all on the same page with her,” said Hayden. School Board vice chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) added: “The three words that come to mind when I think of you: Warm, welcoming and leadership.”
“Education really is a team effort,” Short said, thanking her staff, students and the board for the award.