VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Tina Garfield, a Spanish teacher at Princess Anne High School, is the 2024 Virginia Beach City Public Schools citywide teacher of the year.

Superintendent Aaron Spence announced it during a surprise visit to Garfield’s school Wednesday.

“Mrs. Garfield’s creative teaching methods give students an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the culture and experiences of the Spanish-speaking world,” Spence said in a statement. “Her dedication inspires students to gain confidence in themselves and their unique talents. She exemplifies what it means to be a part of the VBCPS family.”

Garfield, who has been teaching for 26 years, is also a graduate of Princess Anne High and noted her Spanish teachers in VBCPS sparked her passion for education.

She uses various resources and her experiences as the mother of a son who is autistic to provide students culturally-responsive classroom experiences, and includes Spanish music and art in her lessons, sharing stories, photos and souvenirs about her travels to Spain, Honduras and Costa Rica.

“I try to bring equity into the classroom by allowing students who do not have the means to physically travel to these places the opportunity to explore virtually,” Garfield said. “I provide a safe environment to take risks, celebrate successes and boost confidence. Students have added Latin music to their playlists, request songs and sing during class.”

She received National Board certification in 2019. She also leads professional development sessions for teachers and sponsors Princess Anne High’s Spanish Honor Society. Garfield’s volunteer service includes Families of Autistic Children of Tidewater and she has served on the Beach Girls Rock and African American Male Summit committees.

“Tina Garfield demonstrates a passion for teaching and a love for her students that is timeless and embodies all that is great in education,” said Princess Anne High principal C. Todd Tarkenton.

Garfield, by earning the citywide teacher of the year honor, will receive a $200 Massage LuXe spa package; a week’s stay in an Orlando villa and $500 from McDonald’s Restaurant owned and operated by Hugh Fard; $1,000 from the Virginia Beach Education Foundation; and $1,000 from the VBCPS Department of Teaching and Learning to spend on instructional supplies for her classroom.

Garfield will join the city’s other teachers of the year at a May 4 banquet at the Hilton Oceanfront.

The four other finalists for Virginia Beach’s citywide teacher of the year include:

  • Stacey Bellissimo, business/leadership teacher at Cox High School
  • Stephanie Filio, school counselor at Larkspur Middle School
  • Jessica Bradford, gifted resource teacher at Pembroke Elementary School
  • Morgan Knight, art teacher at Red Mill Elementary School

From the initial pool of 87 teachers of the year at their respective schools, the division’s selection committee visited classrooms of selectees and interviewed finalists before choosing Garfield as the winner.