IWCS honors Wooley as divisionwide Teacher of the Year

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Courtney Wooley, a special education teacher at Windsor Elementary School, is the Isle of Wight County Schools’ divisionwide Teacher of the Year. 

She was also selected as Windsor Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year and the division’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. She was surprised at her school last week with the announcement.  

Wooley will serve as the division’s representative in the Virginia Teacher of the Year program.

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Before coming to IWCS, Wooley spent one year as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor and six years as a special education teacher in a neighboring district. 

Wooley was born and raised in Isle of Wight County and is a 2009 graduate of Smithfield High School. She earned her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and Exceptional Education from James Madison University and her master’s degree in Special Education from Old Dominion University. 

Wooley, who lives in Isle of Wight County with her husband and two sons, teaches in a self-contained special education classroom for students who need support with academics, behavioral skills and communication skills. 

She was praised as being “passionate about helping her students develop their unique gifts and giving them meaningful and intentional inclusive experiences with their peers.”

Here’s a look at the Teacher of the Year on each campus:


Smithfield Middle

Danielle Joyner is the Smithfield Middle School Teacher of the Year and the division’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. A 15-year educator, she is in her second year as the CTE/technology teacher at Smithfield Middle. 

Joyner joined IWCS by teaching fifth grade science and math at Westside Elementary School before being asked to make the move to Smithfield Middle. She now supervises production of the school morning show, is the school information officer, runs all of the school’s drone and robot opportunities and is a mentor to new teachers. 

Her journey as an educator began in Newport News as a fifth grade science teacher, followed by time at the Discovery STEM Academy as the STEM coordinator for seven years. 

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum from Virginia Tech. 

She was lauded for “understanding that every student has unique strengths and needs as well as needing authentic connections to what they are learning” and for putting “the students first.”


Windsor High

Jason C. Brittle is the Windsor High Teacher of the Year and the division’s High School Teacher of the year. Brittle, the agriculture teacher for WHS, has been instrumental in the creation and growth of the Isle of Wight County Schools Agricultural Land Lab. 

His 23-year journey in education led him to the “Castle,” where he joined the Windsor High School Dukes family six years ago. Prior to Windsor High, he taught in a middle school, three high schools and even a prison.  

He currently serves his students as Future Farmers of America (FFA) adviser of the newly reinstated Walter S. Newman Chapter. He is also active on the IWCS Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Council, WHS Leadership Team, the CTE, Fine Arts and Foreign Language Cohort and as senior class sponsor.

Brittle grew up just across the Blackwater River in Franklin and attended college at Paul D. Camp Community College and Virginia Tech, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Education. He and his wife, also an educator in IWCS, live in Courtland with their two children, who are students in Isle of Wight County Schools.


Carrollton Elementary

Carrie Grace Morgan is the Teacher of the Year for Carrollton Elementary School. She is in her 23rd year of teaching at Carrollton Elementary. She has taught second, third and fifth grades but found her home for the past 15 years in first grade.  

A graduate of Mary Baldwin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with distinction, Morgan received her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University.  She lives in her childhood home with her 7-month-old peekapoo puppy, Hazel Mae. 

When Morgan is not in the classroom, she can be found at StudioSeventeen teaching musical theater or on the stage performing with one of the many community theaters in the Hampton Roads area.  

Her favorite subject to teach is math because “it is fascinating to watch students grow in their ability to speak about their mathematical thinking.” 



Carrsville Elementary

Shannon Wade is the Teacher of the Year for Carrsville Elementary School.She is in her fourth year at the school.

A native of Southampton County, she attended Paul D. Camp Community College and Old Dominion University, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Early Education. She previously taught kindergarten for seven years with Franklin city schools. 

Wade has participated in many committees, such as Isle of Wight County Fair Hay Bale Committee, Kindergarten Graduation Committee, Valentine’s Dance Committee and has been an active participant in the PTA.   

Wade’s desire to become a teacher stemmed from her own educational struggles as a young child in elementary school. Her struggles with retaining and applying new information led to feelings of inadequacy, frustration and social anxiety. She was “blessed with an amazing teacher in first grade who took the time to help her see her potential and build her confidence … and helped her realize she is valued, loved and can accomplish anything she works hard for.”  


Hardy Elementary

Gunnessa Griebe is the Teacher of the Year for Hardy Elementary School. She is in her fourth year with Isle of Wight County Schools as a special education teacher at Hardy.  

Griebe made a career switch into education after 21 years in the Air Force. She spent five years as a paraprofessional before completing coursework at East Carolina University to obtain her teaching license. She then taught for four years as a special education teacher, working with students with moderate to severe disabilities prior to moving to Virginia. 

In addition to delivering specially designed instruction, Griebe continually seeks out innovative ways to best serve the individual needs of her students. She recently completed her master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education. Originally from West Seneca, New York, she resides in Carrollton and has three adult sons.



Westside Elementary

Amy Hirst is the Teacher of the Year for Westside Elementary School, where she teaches fourth-grade language arts. 

As the daughter of local business owners, she chose to attend college close to her hometown of Suffolk, earning her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies and her Master of Science in Education from Old Dominion University.   

Hirst is currently in her 10th year of teaching, five at Westside. Prior to making Isle of Wight Schools her home, she spent time as a K-1 bridge class teacher and third grade math and science teacher in another district.  

Though she tends to be “reserved around adults, she comes alive in front of children, endeavoring to make her instruction interactive and engaging” and “is always on the lookout for new approaches to teaching her content, and actively collaborates with her colleagues to share new ideas and resources.  

She was voted “Most Loving Teacher” by the student body of her school. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she is also a mentor to new teachers and the co-sponsor of the Westside Jr. Beta Club.  

Hirst lives in Smithfield with her husband and dog.



Tyler Middle

Jennifer Hartman is the Teacher of the Year for Georgie Tyler Middle School, where she serves as a seventh grade English teacher. She is in her sixth year of teaching, all at GTMS. 

In addition to teaching English, Hartman currently is grade level chair for seventh grade. She graduated from Surry County High School in 2002 and attended Thomas Nelson Community College for two years. She graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. She returned to Old Dominion University, participating in the Post-Baccalaureate Endorsement Program, and received her teaching licensure for secondary English (grades 6-12). 

Hartman was described as “a teacher that puts relationships with her students first” and “spends countless hours making high-interest, engaging lessons, which enables every student to be successful at their own level of learning.” 

She lives in Windsor with her husband and three children, all of whom attend school in the division.


Smithfield High

Mindy McCann is the Teacher of the Year for Smithfield High School. She is an Algebra 1 teacher who was born and raised on the Middle Peninsula, traveling between Gloucester and Mathews. 

She didn’t venture too far for college, getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Christopher Newport University. After college, she worked at Ferguson Enterprises. While working at Ferguson, she decided she wanted to become an educator in order to make a difference in the lives of students. 

She received her teaching license through Old Dominion University to teach math. She is now in her fifth year of teaching, all at Smithfield High School. She lives in Suffolk with her two “purr babies.” 

She was praised for believing “in the importance of collaboration, critical thinking and a welcoming environment to ensure the success of all students.”

In addition to teaching math, she is the assistant coach for the varsity field hockey team, sponsor for Interact Club and co-sponsor for the RPG Club.

The nine Teachers of the Year are selected by their schools. They complete a portfolio based on criteria used in the Virginia Teacher of the Year program.  

The division’s Teacher of the Year Committee, composed of former school honorees, reviews the portfolios to select an overall elementary, middle and high school Teacher of the Year. The three finalists submit a video lesson for review and participate in an interview with the committee.