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Henrico, Va., May 9, 2018 – Henrico Schools employs about 3,900 teachers, but only one is honored each year with the division’s Gilman Teacher of the Year Award. Nichole Gross, an eighth-grade teacher at Fairfield Middle School, was awarded that honor Tuesday at a ceremony at Glen Allen High School. Amber Hornbarger, a fourth-grade teacher at Glen Lea Elementary School, was named HCPS’ First-Year Teacher of the Year.

Other finalists for the Teacher of the Year Award were Trevvett Elementary School’s Jessica Capano; Matthew Togna of J.R. Tucker High School; Benjamin Fabian of Douglas Freeman High School; and Taylor Allen of Ward Elementary School. Other finalists for First-Year Teacher of the Year were Leigh Anne Pastore of Echo Lake Elementary School and John Rolfe Middle School teacher Devon Garrett.

“I’m grateful for all of you and what you do,” Gross told the crowd of educators. “I’m grateful for my mom, who when I acted up, made me read a novel and write a five-page essay … I’m thankful for the grandmother I never got to meet, who was an English teacher. I’m thankful for my grandfather who raised my dad to read a newspaper every single day. In my household, literacy was always at the forefront. And I’m thankful now to be able to give other kids the same opportunity that I have a passion for.”

Gross grew up in Washington. Her passion for teaching reading in underprivileged communities began early; at age 16, she created her own reading program through the Summer Youth Employment Program. She attended the University of Virginia, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University and a master’s degree from Capella University. Before joining the Fairfield faculty in 2008, she spent several years working in information technology at a large corporation.

Hornbarger’s roots in Henrico County are deep. She attended Springfield Park Elementary School, Hungary Creek Middle School and J.R. Tucker High School. Her father’s family attended Glen Lea, where Hornbarger now teaches, and her maternal grandmother was crowned “Miss Short Pump” in the 1950s. Hornbarger received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University.

“My roots are here and I plan to stay in the county,” said Hornbarger. “This honor is confirmation that I’ve entered the right career, but I know this is my first year and I still have so much to learn and explore. I absolutely love what I do, the staff I work with and my supportive administration and specialists. My students thrive because of the incredible foundation that Henrico County schools provide.”

The school system also announced three winners of the Chris Corallo Distinguished Leadership Award: Tuckahoe Middle School’s Earl Estes, an exceptional education teacher; Robbi Moose, the principal of Hungary Creek Middle School; and Kourtney Bostain, the division’s assistant director of instructional technology. The three were chosen from individuals nominated by their peers for their vision, passion, innovation and student-centered focus. The award is named in honor of Corallo, a former HCPS assistant superintendent for instruction and organizational development, who died in 2013.

Nichole Gross, a teacher at Fairfield Middle School, accepts the 2018 Gilman Teacher of the Year Award from Patrick Kinlaw, Henrico County Public Schools superintendent.
Nichole Gross, a teacher at Fairfield Middle School, accepts the 2018 Gilman Teacher of the Year Award from Patrick Kinlaw, Henrico County Public Schools superintendent.
Amber Hornbarger, a fourth-grade teacher at Glen Lea Elementary School, accepts the award for Henrico Schools' 2018 First-Year Teacher of the Year.
Amber Hornbarger, a fourth-grade teacher at Glen Lea Elementary School, accepts the award for Henrico Schools’ 2018 First-Year Teacher of the Year.
Nichole Gross, a teacher at Fairfield Middle School, displays her 2018 Gilman Teacher of the Year Award at a ceremony Tuesday evening. With Gross are, at left, Michelle "Micky" Ogburn, Henrico School Board chair and the Board representative from the Three Chopt District; Patrick Kinlaw, Henrico Schools superintendent; and Beverly Cocke, School Board representative from the Brookland District.
Nichole Gross, a teacher at Fairfield Middle School, displays her 2018 Gilman Teacher of the Year Award at a ceremony Tuesday evening. With Gross are, at left, Michelle “Micky” Ogburn, Henrico School Board chair and the Board representative from the Three Chopt District; Patrick Kinlaw, Henrico Schools superintendent; and Beverly Cocke, School Board representative from the Brookland District.