CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A local teacher has been named the 2022 Virginia Teacher of the Year!
Daphne Fulson, a bilingual second grade teacher at Portlock Primary School, has been given the honor. A Chesapeake resident, she has 12 years of teaching experience, four of which have been in the city.
Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement during a livestream at the Executive Mansion in Richmond. Fulson was selected earlier this month as one of the Commonwealth’s eight regional teachers of the year and is now Virginia’s nominee for 2022 National Teacher of the Year.
“It is unreal, it is unreal. You go to work every day, and you just love on the kids and you don’t expect this kind of recognition. It feels so good to be recognized for something you love to do,” Fulson said after calling out a greeting to each of her students by name. “I will now have a larger platform to share all of the ideas I have to incorporate and infuse educational equity into the schools, and a larger platform to share my joy about education.”
“Daphne is an extraordinary teacher who goes above and beyond to support and challenge her students,” Northam said. “Her classroom at Portlock Primary provides a positive learning environment where all children feel welcome as they learn and grow. She is an outstanding representative for Virginia’s exemplary teachers and public schools.”
Northam announced Fulson’s selection at the conclusion of the annual Virginia Teacher of the Year ceremony, which also included remarks by First Lady Pamela Northam, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Board of Education Vice President Jamelle Wilson and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.
Fulson received her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University, studied Spanish linguistics at Universidad Veritas in San José, Costa Rica, and is currently working on her master’s degree at ODU.
She was the recipient of the Sue Lehmann Teaching and Learning Fellowship for the Rio Grande Valley Texas region in 2015 and received the Good to Transformational Teaching Fellowship in McAllen, Texas, in 2017.
While studying in Perú, Daphne was an EFL instructor for children and adults, later served as an AmeriCorps member and was the recipient of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award in 2017.
Fulson was the Science Fair coordinator and University Interscholastic League Creative Writing coach for a school of 830 students in Texas. She has served as a Spanish translator, a co-chair of the Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) Program and as a Global Ambassador at ODU. She is currently chairperson for the PBIS Committee, co-chair of the Math and STEAM Committee and is the math lead and city liaison for her school, assisting with the grade-level mathematics curriculum writing.
Fulson serves as a beginning teacher mentor and is a member of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society and the International Thespian Society.
She enjoys traveling internationally, building homes locally with Habitat for Humanity and participating in regional spoken word competitions.
Portlock Primary School Principal Leslie Russell characterizes Fulson as a “caring, inspiring, and compassionate educator who has a natural gift for touching the lives of her students.”
One of her students shared a holistic approach Fulson takes in educating the whole student.
“I love Ms. Fulson because she allows me to be myself. I get to dance in my classroom. If I don’t understand something, I can always ask Ms. Fulson. I can even disagree, as long as I am respectful. Ms. Fulson teaches my brain and my heart. She wants me to be the best I can be," the student said.
Dr. Jared Cotton, superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools, stated, “We are fortunate to have teachers like Ms. Fulson in front of our students every day. Ms. Fulson exemplifies the demeanor and attributes of a stellar educator. She has brought distinction to herself, our school division, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is, and continues to be, an inspiration to the students and staff of Chesapeake Public Schools.”
The other seven 2022 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year — who were also honored during Thursday’s ceremony — are as follows:
- Ashley Sharell Bland, an instructional technology resource teacher at John B. Cary Elementary School in Richmond (Region 1).
- Robert Dean LaFollette, a science, career and technical education, and mathematics teacher at Essex High School in Essex County (Region 3).
- Howard L. Brewer Jr., an English teacher at the Transition Support Resource Center-Alexandria in Fairfax County (Region 4).
- Matthew Kenneth Uselton, an English Teacher at Liberty High School in Bedford County (Region 5).
- Eboni Jenee Harrington, a mathematics teacher at Lucy Addison Middle School in Roanoke (Region 6).
- Ashley Duncan Cannon, a health and physical education teacher at Atkins Elementary School in Smyth County (Region 7).
- Brendan Mayer Conroy, a GED/Individual Student Alternative Education Program teacher at the Appomattox County High School in Appomattox County (Region 8).
“We are so proud of all of our superhero teachers and all they have done to enable students in every school division to return to their classrooms for in-person learning,” Pamela Northam said.
The 2022 National Teacher of the Year will be announced next spring at a White House ceremony. Three previous Virginia teachers — Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year; B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year; and Rodney A. Robinson, the 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named National Teachers of the Year.
Congratulations, Ms. Fulson!
Related: Virginia ranks 6th best state in nation for teachers