Henrico County Public Schools names 2021-22 Teacher of the Year, First-Year Teacher of the Year

Henrico, Va. April 25, 2022 — Henrico County Public Schools employs more than 4,000 teachers, but only one is honored each year with the school division’s Teacher of the Year Award. The 2022 recipient is Nicole Satchell, a history teacher at Henrico High School. Mercedes Horton, a third grade teacher at Pemberton Elementary School, was named HCPS’ First-Year Teacher of the Year. A group of HCPS leaders surprised the two finalists with the news Monday morning at their schools.

Satchell will receive a $1,000 check from Henrico Federal Credit Union and Horton will receive a $250 gift card to use for classroom supplies.

A finalist for the divisionwide Teacher of the Year Award is chosen from each of Henrico County’s five magisterial districts. The other finalists were Allison Koontz, a second grade teacher at Echo Lake Elementary School; Lynne Norris, a technology education teacher at Deep Run High School; Quioccasin Middle School business teacher Matthew Murray; and Katy Yam, a science teacher at Varina High School. They will each receive $500 from Henrico Federal Credit Union. Other finalists for First-Year Teacher of the Year were Cassondra DiFrango, an exceptional education teacher at John Rolfe Middle School, and Carlee Parker, a reading and English teacher at Greenwood Elementary School.

The Henrico Education Foundation will host a banquet at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in May to recognize the Teacher of the Year honorees from all HCPS schools.

“Outstanding teachers are adept at creating learning spaces where students are heard and feel seen,” Satchell said in a statement she submitted for the award. “As I reflect on what brought me to the classroom, I remember being a young lover of history. While I was fortunate to have had a few excellent history teachers throughout the years, none of them were persons of color. I remember feeling that teaching history was something that I would love to do, but it was not something that Black people did. … I became a history teacher because I want my students to know that a critical analysis of history and its implications on the present and future is definitely something that Black people can and should do.”

Satchell is co-chair of Henrico’s social studies department, and sponsors the school’s Student Advisory Council, Equity Ambassadors group and Black Student Union. In 2020, she was selected as a member of the Virginia Department of Education’s Social Science Enhanced Curriculum Course Map Committee.

Satchell grew up in Wilmington, Del. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in history education. She joined the faculty at Henrico High School in 2007 as a first-year teacher.

Horton is originally from Westchester, Pa. Before joining the staff at Pemberton, she was a student teacher at Dumbarton Elementary School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, majoring in Latin American studies with a minor in education.

“A great teacher is someone who cares deeply about her students both in and out of the classroom, engages them in the process of learning and finding themselves as students, and is not afraid to play or make a fool out of themselves,” Horton said. “I see these qualities in my colleagues that I learn from each day and also gradually in myself as I gain my footing and sink into my new reality as a teacher.”