Mills Godwin HS principal is runner-up for Community Foundation’s REB Award
Henrico, Va., March 26, 2021 — Ryan Stein, principal of Henrico County’s Greenwood Elementary School, has been awarded the 2020-21 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually — one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond. Leigh Dunavant, principal of Mills Godwin High School, was a runner-up for the award.
The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. Nominees must have served as principal at their school for at least three years. Stein will receive a $10,000 cash grant and an additional $20,000 for school projects of his choosing. Dunavant will receive a $10,000 grant for school projects.
Stein plans to use the bulk of his project funding for “KinderGator Camp,” a five-week in-person academic camp for rising first-graders that will take place at Greenwood from July 12 to Aug. 12. The camp will focus on connection, literacy and emotional development. Dunavant plans to use her funds for project-based professional learning for the Mills Godwin faculty. The training would further incorporate the Henrico Learner Profile’s “six C’s” at the school. The Henrico Learner Profile is the school division’s blueprint for student learning.
“This recognition — during a pandemic — really just highlights the whole school and what the teachers have been doing, all the way back through the spring,” Stein told staff members at a surprise announcement at a virtual staff meeting Tuesday.
“In particular, this year for me, I was able to see it all as a dad — how my son talks about Greenwood to his friends, to his soccer teammates… and to hear your son talk about Greenwood? I can’t thank you enough for that … To my team, that I drive nuts, I couldn’t ask for a better group. Everything we do is for kids — all the big ideas and the after-school programs … they show that we love kids and love what we do. We all have the same vision and the same end-goal, and that is to leave this place a better place than when we came, for each and every one of these kids.”
Among other innovations, Stein created a system of five “houses” at Greenwood, based loosely on the fictional Hogwarts School from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Each Greenwood house represents a character trait and is designed to foster collaboration, relationships and schoolwide competition.
Stein has been principal of Greenwood since 2016. He joined Henrico County Public Schools in 2005 and taught at Echo Lake and Pinchbeck elementary schools. He served as an HCPS instructional technology resource teacher, and then as a student support teacher and associate principal at Maude Trevvett Elementary School before becoming Greenwood’s principal. Among other honors, he is a past winner of the REB Award for Teaching Excellence and HCPS’ Chris Corallo Leadership Award. He also was named a winner of the Super Teacher Award by the Virginia Lottery and featured on the Rachael Ray Show as a top-five educator. He is the author of the 2019 book, “Lifeline 65: How Small Connections and Big Enthusiasm Can Change Education” and created a 2012 album of social studies-themed children’s songs called “History MVP.” Originally from Lawrenceville, N.J., Stein is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College and Liberty University.
Dunavant has been principal of Mills Godwin — her alma mater — since 2016. After serving as a student teacher at Brookland Middle School in 1999, she taught at Brookland, Tuckahoe and Hungary Creek middle schools, and served as coordinator of assessment and remediation at Hungary Creek. In 2010 she returned to Mills Godwin as assistant principal, and became associate principal in 2012. In 2018, Dunavant was HCPS’ Instructional leader of the Year. She is an alumna of James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University.