Atlee HS Teacher Named Teacher of the Year

Atlee High School Teacher Named Teacher of the Year
Posted on 01/22/2024
Avanti YamamotoAvanti Yamamoto, a math teacher at Atlee High School (AHS), has been named this year's Hanover County Public Schools (HCPS) Teacher of the Year.

Yamamoto, a Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University alumna, has taught at AHS since 2016, teaching Algebra II and precalculus. She will now compete for the Virginia Department of Education Region I Teacher of the Year award.

“This recognition is not about me; it’s about my students, the ones who made me a teacher. Everyone that has crossed the threshold of room 909 has taught me something about what it means to be an effective teacher. This recognition is for every student I have ever had. They are the reason I received this honor,” she said. “I thank them all for teaching me what it means to be a great teacher. This recognition means the world to me. I never thought of myself as anything extraordinary. I come to work each day and strive to be the best teacher possible for my students because I believe all students deserve to be taught by someone who is not only proficient in their content knowledge but also in effective teaching strategies.”

She added: “I want all teachers to know your ripple effect as a teacher is far-reaching. Never forget your impact. For me, being a teacher goes far beyond content knowledge. Rather, it’s how to deliver that knowledge. That involves getting to know your kids, learning about teaching strategies, talking to parents, and so much more. I have been so blessed with such wonderful students, an incredible community of parents and colleagues, and such a supportive family. I am so grateful not only for this award, but the honor of being a teacher here at Atlee High School and Hanover County.”

Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools, made the surprise announcement during a special staff meeting inside the AHS auditorium before Winter Break as Yamamoto’s co-workers and family cheered on.

Yamamoto earned National Board Certification last school year, an achievement that she was motivated to pursue by a drive to serve her students.

“I never did this for any reason other than I want to be the best for my students. I have had so many current and former students and parents tell me, ‘Congratulations! You deserve it!’ (I tell them it’s only because I had amazing students like them.) That makes me feel like all of the hard work was worth it. If I changed even one child’s life for the better, then it was worth it.”

AHS Principal Dr. John Wheeler said Yamamoto was “born to be a teacher.”

“She has been exceptional since she arrived at Atlee eight years ago, and she continues to look for ways to not only improve her instruction but also to increase the learning experience for all students,” he said. “She is constantly reflecting on her craft and continues to have a heightened awareness in making sure her students are actively engaged, working collaboratively, and enjoying their learning every time they walk through the threshold of her door.

Yamamoto also thanked her school community for supporting her as an educator.

“Atlee has my heart. This school and the community has taken me in and taught me what it means to be a Raider and an effective teacher. Dr. Wheeler instills in us the importance of creating relationships with our students and he is right,” she said. “The most effective way to teach students is to form relationships with them and get to know them to figure out what they need. That is what I and all of us at Atlee strive to do. This is why our students thrive. The Atlee community of parents and students are so incredible and supportive.”

Yamamoto also serves as the sponsor for Atlee’s Key Club, which collects toys for Toys for Tots, makes dog toys for the SPCA, makes cards for local nursing homes, and more. She said she loves creating relationships with students and talking with them about math. She especially loves when “something I taught in class makes a student want to pick up the pencil and explore numbers.”

“My favorite part is watching a student help someone or master a concept in math class and know that I had a little something to do with it. To me, teaching goes far beyond the classroom. It has a ripple effect like throwing a pebble into the ocean,” she said.

HCPS employs approximately 1,446 teachers. Each year, the division selects one teacher for this distinguished award who is actively and meaningfully involved in the school and community and can serve as a role model and ambassador for teachers in the division.
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