RICHMOND, Va. -- Friday marks the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week.
On Friday, two local teachers were named Teacher of the Year and were celebrated by their peers and community leaders.
Ashley Bland was named Richmond Schools Teacher of the Year on Friday. Bland is an instructional technology resource teacher at three schools across Richmond.
Superintendent Jason Kamras and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney surprised Bland at John B. Cary Elementary School to celebrate her accomplishment.
Bland said that teaching is all about hard work and dedication. She says she remembers the exact moment when it was announced that schools announced they were going virtual for what was supposed to be only two weeks.
"It's definitely been a challenge. But in my role as an Instructional Technology resource teacher, it's been a great experience because I've got to work with both students and teachers to make sure they know best technology practices," Bland said.
She said that she feels honored to be named Richmond's Teacher of the Year.
A Chesterfield County teacher was also celebrated by her colleagues and students for her work over the past year.
Raegen Dinelli, a former fifth-grade teacher at Clover Hill Elementary School, acted as the school's instructional designer this year. She assisted the school by creating documents and how-to guides to help students and teachers navigate online learning.
Dinelli's "can do" attitude led her to be named as the elementary school Teacher of the Year and the division Teacher of the Year.
"In this virtual year, you really don't want to let teachers down if they're having trouble connecting with our students. You want to fix it and you want to fix it really fast," Dinelli said.
Additionally, sixth-grade math teacher Suzanne Potocko, a teacher at Robious Middle School, was named as the middle school Teacher of the Year. Tracy Longworth, a teacher at Thomas Dale High, was named as the high school Teacher of the Year.