Four RPS teachers earn REB Excellence awards

  • The REB 2017 winners from RPS with Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz

    The RPS winners of the 2017 REB Excellence Award were (pictured l to r, with Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz) Christine Muse, Frenishee Smith, Karen Barber-Olajuwon, and Tiana Addai-Mensah.

    Four RPS teachers were among those honored with the prestigious REB Awards for Teaching Excellence for 2017.

    Considered among the best in their field in the Richmond Metro area, these exceptional instructors demonstrate a sincere passion for teaching while also serving as mentors, coaches and champions for their students. Selected from 112 nominations submitted by students, parents and colleagues, 16 winners and 14 finalists will receive cash grants totaling $180,800. 

    The awards were presented during an event at the Virginia Historical Society on Monday, November 13. Of the 30 finalists, five were RPS teachers, and of four of those five were among the 16 winners.

    The finalists representing RPS were:

    Tiana Addai-Mensah, Miles J. Jones Elementary
    Karen Barber-Olajuwon, George Mason Elementary
    Christine Muse, Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy
    Frenishee Smith, J.E.B. Stuart Elementary
    Paula Katz, Mary Munford Elementary

    The R.E.B. Awards provide opportunities for area public school teachers to continue their own love of learning as they pursue adventures of a lifetime.  The awards program, which is a partnership between The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia and the R.E.B. Foundation, recognizes excellence in public education by awarding cash grants to outstanding public school teachers from the City of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover, and the Department of Correctional Education. Since its inception in 1988, the program has awarded $3.5 million to over 800 public school instructors as recognition for their outstanding classroom performance.

    To be considered, teachers must:

    • Be an inspiring influence on students and peers;
    • Have strong knowledge of the subject matter;
    • Motivate students to develop skills and form positive habits toward learning and discipline;
    • Utilize creative methods to engage students in the subject matter; and
    • Be dedicated to the teaching profession.  

    Connected by a desire to make their lessons relevant, all the 2017 awardees will have a chance to collect real-life experiences, stories and artifacts to refuel their passion for teaching and enhance their ability to bring subject matter to life for their students. All finalists not chosen for a professional development grant will receive a $750 unrestricted cash grant in recognition of their achievements in the classroom.

    Project descriptions of RPS winners:

    Tiana Addai-Mensah                     Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School                 $12,000

    To visit libraries across the globe with the purpose of exchanging ideas to elevate students’ love of reading for pleasure.

    Karen Barber-Olajuwon             George Mason Elementary School                          $12,000

    To attend workshops in the U.S. and Barbados that promote the art of poetry writing, the use of poetry as an instructional tool, and poetry as a constructive outlet for traumatic experiences.

    Christine Muse              Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy           $9,500

    To study entrepreneurial opportunities for people with disabilities by visiting and networking with other organizations in North Carolina, Scotland and Grenada.

    Frenishee Smith                           J.E. B. Stuart Elementary School                             $9,000

    To visit schools across the country that use innovative ways to engage students living in poverty; and to attend The International Conference on Urban Education in Nassau, Bahamas.