Newport News Public Schools update – July 2023

NNPS names teachers of the year

From left, Charron Bournes, Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Chanda Woods, NNPS and Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Michael Sage, High School Teacher of the Year.

Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) Teachers of the Year were honored at a banquet in May. Forty-two talented and dedicated educators selected to represent their schools were recognized for their service and commitment. The evening also brought the announcement of the 2023–2024 elementary, middle, high school and NNPS Teacher of the Year.

Chanda Woods was named division-wide and middle school teacher of the year. Woods is a sixth-grade integrated language arts teacher at Crittenden, with 25 years of experience. She believes that achievement looks very different for each student. Woods redesigned her classroom, using a self-paced model for her students. To measure their progress, her students use trackers and move at their own comfortable pace. Woods monitors each student’s success through “lesson chat check-ins.”

Charron Bournes, a preschool teacher at General Stanford, was named elementary school teacher of the year. Bournes has seven years of experience as an educator. She enjoys teaching and building relationships with her students. With a mini-grant from the Newport News Education Foundation and the National Council of Jewish Women, Bournes implemented “Purposeful Play in Preschool” in her classroom, giving students new experiences to connect their learning.

The high school teacher of the year was Michael Sage, a world history educator at Denbigh High School, with more than seven years of experience. Sage explores innovative ways to meet the educational needs of his students. He uses small pieces of the civil system, such as voting, to give his students a voice in the classroom. They vote on which assignments they want to complete from a choice board, which often sparks great debates in class, affirming the lesson on the civil system.

Meet these teachers of the year at

Planting trees is a wonderful opportunity to learn

Saunders Elementary School students received a lesson on planting trees, thanks to Daniel Lee (in yellow shirt).

As spring approached, 74 students in the Bloom and RISE! youth development programs at Saunders Elementary experienced nature firsthand, helping to plant more than 50 tree saplings on school grounds. 

The learning opportunity was led by Daniel Lee, a junior at Heritage High School, as part of his Eagle Scout project for Troop 6. Lee spent last year planning the project with the Department of Forestry, Peninsula Master Naturalists (PMN), the NNPS landscaping department and the Saunders leadership team. While he received guidance from Boy Scout Subject Matter Expert David Singletary and the PMN Tree Stewards, Lee was in charge of organizing the event, from gathering the volunteers to leading the planting efforts.

Equipped with tools generously loaned by Newport News Waterworks, the team of students and volunteers spent a day learning about different species of trees, proper planting, teamwork and the effects that pollutants have on our water system. 

The PMN Tree Stewards and Department of Forestry volunteers noted how impressed they were with the students’ attitudes and Lee’s leadership skills, saying the day was “a wonderful opportunity to learn for all.” 

Lee is passionate about conservation and hopes to organize future tree plantings at other Newport News Public Schools.