College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University
Graduate School of Education - George Mason University

Our Graduate School of Education is the alma mater for one third of teachers and administrators in Northern Virginia’s world-class school systems. Each year, more than 3,000 graduate students enroll in our innovative academic programs, which include advanced study for teachers and school leaders, instructional design and technology, and a renowned PhD in Education program that is among the largest in the country.

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School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism - George Mason University

The School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism (SRHT) offers exciting, career-ready majors in dynamic fields such as athletic training, tourism and events management, health and physical education, kinesiology, sport management, and recreation management. SRHT features renowned faculty, cutting-edge research, six laboratories and centers, and a diverse student body of more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Each major requires one or more internship or clinical experiences, ensuring that students graduate not just with a transcript but with a resume that demonstrates their professional aptitude and skills.

Exemplary Early Career Teacher Award

Exemplary Early Career Teacher Award 2019

Presented by the Apple Federal Credit Union Foundation and the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University

About the award

The Exemplary Early Career Teacher Award recognizes excellence in teaching and educational leadership by an early career teacher. The $2,500 educational award is presented by the Apple Federal Credit Union Foundation in collaboration with the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at George Mason University.

To be eligible for the award, nominees must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a graduate of one of CEHD’s degree or licensure programs, and
  • Be employed in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) as a full-time teacher in his/her first, second, or third year of teaching.

The selection committee is composed of faculty from CEHD, staff from FCPS, and community members. The committee reviews all nominations and makes a recommendation to the dean of the College of Education and Human Development who selects the recipient.

About the foundation

For many years, the Apple Federal Credit Union Foundation has been active in supporting beginning teacher programs and embraced the opportunity to recognize exemplary early career teachers and encourage them to continue their careers in teaching. To further this work, the foundation created a partnership with the College of Education and Human Development. A notable part of the award is the reflection of teachers about their education at CEHD and the professors who influenced them.


Previous award winners

2019: Maria Barrios

Keene Mill Elementary School
(BA Integrative Studies ’14, MEd Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education ’17)

Maria Barrios

"Ms. Barrios began working at Keene Mill ES in August 2017 as a grade 3 Advanced Academic Program (AAP) teacher. She was excited to work at Keene Mill as this is the elementary school she attended as a young student. From the very first day that Ms. Barrios began as a teacher she has been exemplary in her lesson planning, presentation, building relationships, and classroom management." - Keene Mill Elementary School Assistant Principal Ellen Colter

2018: Dennis Nolasco

Cooper Middle School
(BA English, ’14, MEd Curriculum and Instruction, ’17)

Dennis Nolasco

"Mr. Nolasco's classroom is student centered as well as routine focused. His organizational skills enable students to focus on the skill being taught in a way that meets their individual needs. When you enter Mr. Nolasco's class, you will find high energy as well as someone who cares passionately for each individual student. His knowledge of standards, as well as his unique knowledge and understanding of young adolescent literature, enhances the learning experience of his students." - Cooper Middle School Assistant Principal Cherith Pierson

2017: Kaleigh O’Donnell

Westlawn Elementary School

Kaleigh O’Donnell

Ms. O’Donnell sustains an environment of high engagement, open student discourse, and risk-taking in order to maximize student learning” and that “her enthusiasm shows on her face, through her positive teacher language, and in the quiet energy she projects while teaching." O’Donnell’s students, she said, “respond with eagerness to learn and a sense of energy." - Westlawn Assistant Principal Michelle Doyle

2016: Michael Hunt

Westbriar Elementary School
(MEd Curriculum and Instruction: Elementary Education '12)

Michael Hunt

From his nominators: "There are some people who are born to teach, born to bring out the best in those around them, and born to motivate and inspire others. This is what Michael Hunt does; it's who he is. He consistently strives for excellence in his delivery of instruction and his professionalism with colleagues. He has a strong commitment to his students' social, emotional, and academic success and is to be commended for his work with families and his willingess to continually reach out to make connections in an effort to keep the bar raised at a high level and have each student meet with personal success."

2015: Brandon Hughart

Cedar Lane School
(MEd Special Education '13)