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2015 Top Ten Educator of the Year: Cindy Cunningham


Friday, April 08, 2016

2015 Top Ten Educator of the Year: Cindy Cunningham

Cindy Cunningham, Ph. D.
Department Chair of English and Literary Arts
Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts and Technology Petersburg, VA

NSHSS is proud to recognize Dr. Cunningham as one of the 2015 Claes Nobel Top Ten Educators of the Year. In addition to serving as the Director of Literary Arts, the English Department Chair, and a full-time educator, Dr. Cunningham is the creator, organizer, and publicist for her high school’s Annual Writers’ Festival. She has also created and developed an interdisciplinary approach to research across the curriculum. Dr. Cunningham has mentored numerous students who have won national awards from Scholastic Art and Writing. Dr. Cunningham earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wake Forest University, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a doctoral degree in English from Georgia State University.

Dr. Cunningham explains her educational philosophy, “I create a community in which students freely express ideas to peers, teachers, and outside communities. With a strong basis of trust, students find themselves better prepared to apply strategies to their academics, personal lives, and careers.” Dr. Cunningham continues, “[. . .] I encourage students to discover and promote their beliefs in effective and vibrant ways. I stress the power of language, that writing is meant to be heard, and that communities can sustain them in crisis or in celebration. I show students the personal and communal rewards that result from a combination of belief, a critical mind, and persuasive technique.” Dr. Cunningham established the “Semicolon Club; There is more to my story” to aid students suffering from depression. She also cofounded the Student Honor Council, and she is the sponsor for the Writer’s Club and the award-winning ASGARD Literary Magazine. Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Scholarship Selection Committee, the Curriculum Leadership Council, and the Diversity across the Disciplines Committee.

Executive Director of ARGS explains, “Dr. Cunningham is a great teacher with a calming, pleasant personality. She is self-motivated, expressive, and extremely dignified. Dr. Cunningham is one of those teachers that all school divisions need working with them. She is truly ‘A keeper.’” Dr. Cunningham’s nominating student adds, “Dr. Cunningham is a respectable teacher and friend who continuously proves to be extremely dedicated to her work and her students. She incorporates life lessons with learning; therefore her students learn more than just schoolwork. They learn meaningful life lessons and the advantage of receiving a well-rounded education.”

Claes Nobel Educators of the Year

NSHSS is pleased to highlight our 2015-2016 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year, presented to ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success in college and in life. These ten educators are among NSHSS’s student-nominated Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction, a program that recognizes educators who model best practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers, and demonstrate outstanding leadership in education and community engagement. Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 38,000 educators worldwide.