Eckenrode, Imbrescia Named PAEMST State Finalists

Congratulations to Eric Imbrescia and Susan Eckenrode on their selection as state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching! Mr. Imbrescia, a teacher at Peak View Elementary School, was selected for K-6 mathematics teaching, and Ms. Eckenrode, a teacher at John Wayland Elementary School, was selected for K-6 science teaching.

The Presidential Awards are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. The award recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning.  Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.


Mr. Imbrescia uses math manipulatives to facilitate student understanding. Here, they use them to tackle a lesson involving comparison of fractions.

“Eric is an outstanding mathematics educator and mentor for his colleagues.  He asks his students rigorous questions and plans content-rich activities which allow students to explore, reason, explain, collaborate, and make connections among mathematical topics. He incorporates everything one would hope to see in a math classroom, and it shows in his students’ enthusiasm, engagement, and success with math.  He has shared his expertise through many presentations and inservices for teachers throughout Rockingham County and across the state.  JMU benefitted from his math-teaching prowess this past spring, as he taught a math methods course for future teachers.  His impact on math education has been felt throughout RCPS, and we are proud of his many accomplishments!” praised Jenny Gibson, Coordinator of Mathematics for RCPS.


Ms. Eckenrode works with students as they construct then guide vehicles down a track applying magnetic concepts.

Tammy Stone, RCPS Coordinator of Science, described Ms. Eckenrode as “an exemplary science teacher and STEM leader in Rockingham County.  She does integrative STEM lessons on a weekly basis by weaving all of her subjects together to create a rich tapestry of learning in her classroom. John Wayland Elementary has been a Virginia Naturally school for the past 14 years largely due to Susan’s passion for environmental education  and problem-based learning.     Susan is always willing to share her skills and ideas with other teachers, often presenting at conferences and James Madison Content Teaching Academy.  Rockingham County Public Schools is lucky to have her passion for STEM and helping her students develop into successful, and passionate learners.”

As state-level finalists, Mr. Imbrescia and Ms. Eckenrode’s applications will be forwarded to the National Science Foundation’s national selection committee for consideration. The national selection committee chooses one state-level finalist in mathematics and one state-level finalist in science from each state to receive the Presidential Award. Teachers selected as Presidential Awardees will receive a gift of $10,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., where they will be honored in a variety of ceremonies.

We wish Mr. Imbrescia and Ms. Eckenrode the best of luck in the final stage of the PAEMST process and congratulate them for their passion for math and science education and their dedication to Rockingham County students!

TAHS’s Cook Documentary Recognized by High Speed Rail Organization

Submitted by Susan Fream, Massanutten Regional Governor’s School Director, regarding the work of Turner Ashby High School student, Hanson Cook. 

Last year for his research project, Hanson Cook studied Mag Lev transportation and based on his research felt that it was unfeasible for a country the size of the United States. However, he firmly believed that increased usage of rail transportation can positively impact this country in a number of ways. So, this year he changed the scope of his project to study high speed rail systems in Virginia.  He spent the year researching the benefits of high speed rail, interviewing a number of individuals, including Amtrak officials, members of the General Assembly and local Board of Supervisors, meeting individuals that work on the rail system, and traveling the state via the rail system. I believe he had over 65 hours of footage by the end of the year, which he used to create a documentary called on the High Speed Rail System. Unfortunately, due to the size of the documentary, I cannot email it to you.

As you can see in the email, he has been asked by the Executive Director of the Virginians for High Speed Rail to show his documentary at their annual meeting and answer questions. This is a tremendous honor for this young man.

Hanson’s documentary:

From: Danny Plaugher
Date: Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Subject: Fast Track Documentary & VHSR Annual Meeting
To: Hanson Cook


Your piece Fast Tracks is a fantastic documentary.   If you’re out of school and able to make it, I would like you to show it at our 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting on Friday, June 20th in Richmond at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. We can give you five minutes before showing the documentary to talk about the process of why you wanted to talk about this subject and 15 minutes after to answer any questions from the audience. More information on the Annual Meeting can be found here: and we are in the process of securing either the Governor of VA or someone from USDOT as our keynote speaker for the event.

Let me know if this is something that you would be interested in doing? Once again, great job!

Danny Plaugher Executive Director | Virginians for High Speed Rail |

Destination Imagination Teams Excel in Competition


Spotswood hosted the state tournament

RCPS had seven teams compete at the Destination Imagination State Tournament.  Spotswood High School was the host of the State Destination Imagination Tournament on Saturday, April 5, 2014. There were 170 teams competing with approximately 3,800 people in attendance.  Team members, parents, grandparents, educators, and administrators from throughout the state were in attendance.

RCPS had five teams advance to DI Global Finals at the University of Tennessee.   Global Finals 2014 is a culmination of a year of problem solving and creativity.  Teams from Peak View, Elkton Middle, Wilbur S. Pence, Turner Ashby, and Spotswood represented Rockingham County Public Schools at this international creative problem solving competition. There were over 1,400 teams representing 45 states and 20 countries. An estimated 19,000 people attended Global Finals, including over 8,000 student participants.

See pictures submitted by teams from both competitions.

Destination Imagination (DI) is a cause-driven, volunteer-led non-profit organization dedicated to teaching students the creative process through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the arts and service learning Challenges. For more than 30 years, DI has helped more than 1.5 million kids tap into their creativity and learn the skills they need to build successful careers. [source: DI Global Finals website]

Rockingham County Public Schools Destination Imagination State Tournament Teams
April 5, 2014

Challenge Team Name School Manager Place
D:Pandemonium! That Team 1:45678 Spotswood High Hall 3rd
A:Dig In D. I. Tectors Elkton Middle Unnerstall 1st
C:Laugh Art Loud Bubbles of the Underworld Peak View Elementary Lambert 1st
A:Dig In Peak View Retrievers Peak View Elementary Martin 6th
E:The Tension Builds Totally Bossome Flaming Velociraptorers Elkton Middle Wilt 7th
B:Going to Extremes Bazinga Squad Turner Ashby High Swortzel 2nd
E:The Tension Builds Drove Our Manager Crazy Wilbur Pence Middle Breeden 3rd

Information and pictures submitted by Louise Liddle, Gifted Resource Teacher
Montevideo Middle/Spotswood High School

TAHS DECA Competes in Atlanta


in front of dome

(Front) Kori Atkins & Sarah Michael, (Back) Matthew Overacker, Pavel Khoshnaw, and Jake Roth

BRIDGEWATER, VIRGINIA. – Turner Ashby DECA competed at the DECA State Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach on March 1, 2014. Jordan Butcher, Pavel Khoshnaw, and Sarah Michael were finalists in the Community Service event for their efforts with the Angel Tree Project. The Learn and Earn team comprised of Kori Atkins, Matthew Overacker, and Jake Roth placed 1st in the state for their endeavors with TA DECA’s Kings of the Court boys volleyball tournament and advanced to compete at the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia from May 2-7, 2014.

In Atlanta the Learn and Earn team, comprised of seniors Kori Atkins, Matthew Overacker, and Jake Roth, competed against more than 30 teams from across the globe in both the Georgia Dome and the World Congress Center.  Juniors Pavel Khoshnaw and Sarah Michael graduated from the “IGNITE” Leadership Development Academy where they learned about professionalism, etiquette, and effective leadership and teamwork skills that they will teach the TA DECA chapter in the 2014-15 school year.

DECA is a student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. More than 200,000 high school members participate in DECA through 3,500 chapters in all 50 states and 8 countries.  At the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta more than 10,000 students competed for top honors in events that are designed to enhance preparation for college and careers by integrating classroom instruction and applying it to realistic business situations.

See more pictures from their trip.


Turner Ashby High School
800 N. Main St.
Bridgewater, VA 22812

Melissa Talley –

J. Frank Hillyard Wins National Financial Fitness Award


J. Frank Hillyard Middle School in Broadway, Virginia was selected to receive the 2014 National Middle School Financial Fitness Award, sponsored by Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Financial Fitness is a peer education program, created by FCCLA, designed to help youth develop skills in money management, consumerism, and financial planning. The award recognizes one high school and one middle school chapter from across the nation for their project promoting financial fitness.

fccla-studentsAs the national middle school winner, the J. Frank Hillyard FCCLA chapter will receive their award, at the 2014 FCCLA National Leadership Conference, July 6-10th in San Antonio, Texas.

J. Frank Hillyard Middle School FCCLA members conducted a project to better understand how to set up a budget and how difficult it can sometimes be to stay on track.  Chapter members worked with a limited budget and were responsible for holding two fundraisers to earn money to put towards activities for National FCCLA week.  The students gained first hand experience with event planning and budgeting. They created fun and successful activities for the members, students, and faculty, while staying within their budget.

Seven chapter members also attended the Virginia State Leadership and Recognition Conference, in Virginia Beach, VA during April.  The chapter and its members brought home several awards.  Taylor Craft was recognized with the Spirit of FCCLA award.  Taylor was chosen for this award by exemplifying positive character and leadership traits.   Members Tiffany Ott and Jasmine Kline earned a Virginia State Silver medal for their STAR (Students Taking Action for Recognition) Event presentation in Life Event Planning.  Sarah Gehman, Taylor Craft, Autumn Clem, Alexis Harris, and Meghan Mugrage each earned a Bronze Medal for their presentations.  The J. Frank Hillyard FCCLA Chapter was also recognized with an Outstanding Chapter Award.  The Family and Consumer Science Teacher and FCCLA Adviser is Tammy Dean.

Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America is a dynamic national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.  FCCLA  has over 200,000 members and over 6,500 chapters from 50 states, including Puerto and the Virgin Islands. The organization has involved more than ten million youth since founded in 1945.

Contact: Tammy Dean
J. Frank Hillyard Middle School



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