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Newport News middle school teacher Chanda Woods is Region 2 Teacher of the Year

Chanda Woods, an integrated language arts teacher at Newport News Public Schools’ Crittenden Middle School, has been named the 2025 Virginia Regional Teacher of the Year (Region 2) by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Woods has been a teacher and a mentor for 26 years.

“Ms. Woods is a passionate educator who persevered through several life challenges to become a teacher and has chosen to work with those who have similar challenges in their daily lives,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons. “I am proud that she inspires her students to believe in their capabilities and challenges them to learn the rigorous content she teaches. She personifies what it means to be a mentor and I’m absolutely thrilled to celebrate her achievements and recognize her with this award.”

Also in attendance was Delegate Shelly Simonds, representing House District 70, parts of Newport News. “The thing that was most special to me about today was having Ms. Woods’ students there for the announcement and seeing their excitement and support for their teacher,” said Simonds. “She clearly has created a sense of teamwork and acceptance, like a family, in her classroom.”

Woods has taught at Crittenden Middle School since 2019 and currently teaches grades 6-8. Woods’ early struggles with reading led to challenges during her own middle school years. She reached a turning point in seventh grade when a teacher encouraged her to set high expectations for herself. This pivotal moment is what inspired Woods to become a teacher, with the hopes that one day she too could have a similar impact on her own students.

Always looking for ways to meaningfully connect students to the community, Woods mentors a group of sixth graders, helping them experience engaging activities such as dining out at restaurants, attending the symphony, and visiting the Newport News Wellness Expo. She also regularly attends her students’ events as she believes it is important for them to see their teachers in the stands or audience.

Woods has embraced technology in a meaningful way in the classroom, redesigning the flow of her classroom using a self-paced model. Her lessons engage students of all backgrounds and abilities. Woods uses a progress tracker to help her pay closer attention to students who may need more guidance. 

To help her students better understand food and where it comes from, Woods used the Garden to Grow grant to create Cougar Gardens. Realizing that many of her students live in parts of the city that are considered a food desert, she was inspired to teach her students how to grow and harvest their own food. Woods plans to extend Cougar Gardens into the community with the help of Serve the City.

A servant leader, Woods strives to be a “guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.” She is a new teacher mentor and coach for Newport News Public Schools, and the English Content Lead at Crittenden Middle School. She also created a sixth-grade Town Hall and has facilitated ongoing collaboration with all sixth-grade teachers to ensure each student is provided the attention they need. A lifelong learner, Woods recently joined the Modern Classrooms Mentorship program. She also regularly participates in professional development courses. 

Woods was named the 2023-2024 Newport News Public Schools Teacher of the Year and the Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as the 2023-2024 Crittenden Middle School Teacher of the Year.

“Ms. Woods strives to ensure each student feels welcome and cared for,” said Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Michele Mitchell. “There is no task too great for Ms. Woods when it comes to providing unique learning opportunities for her students.” 

Woods earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany.

The announcement of Woods’ nomination coincided with a surprise visit from Superintendent Coons. Woods and the seven other regional Teachers of the Year will join a Teacher Advisory Council, helping elevate the voices and perspectives of all Virginia teachers on VDOE’s work. 

All eight Regional Teachers of the Year are nominees for the 2025 Mary V. Bicouvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year Award. The final Virginia Teacher of the Year Award will be announced later this spring.

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