2023 Citywide Teachers of the Year

CHESAPEAKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS - 2023 Teachers of the Year

The Indian River High School auditorium was nearly at capacity when the district celebrated its annual citywide Teacher of the Year awards ceremony on December 1, 2022. The ceremony was themed “To Infinity and Beyond: Our TOY Story” and focused on shining a spotlight on all of the teachers of the year from each of our 48 schools (click here to view the ceremony program). The ceremony also formally announced our new district, elementary, middle, and high school teachers of the year.

“Being there for a child is the most noble thing a TOY can do!” – Woody from Toy Story

2023 Chesapeake Teacher of the Year is Rachel Hickey!

Rachel HickeyChesapeake Public Schools is proud to announce that Mrs. Rachel Hickey has been selected as the Chesapeake Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hickey is an English as a Second Language teacher at G.W. Carver Intermediate School.
Born and raised in Brazil, Mrs. Hickey has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from UERJ (Rio de Janeiro State University) and a second bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages with a Concentration in Portuguese and English from UNIVERSO (Salgado de Oliveira University). She has a master’s degree from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. At Carver, she serves on the Latino & Hispanic Heritage Committee, and Girls on The Run Committee and is the English Learners (EL) Lead teacher. At the district level, Mrs. Hickey mentors new teachers in the EL program, serves on EL Curriculum Writing team, is a member of the ELL Advisory Committee, and has presented district-wide professional development sessions.

As Chesapeake Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Hickey will be the district’s nominee for the 2024 Virginia State Teacher of the Year program.

2023 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Victoria Brannen!

Victoria BrannenMs. Victoria Brannen has been selected as the Chesapeake Public Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year. Ms. Brannen is a fifth grade teacher at Sparrow Road Intermediate School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and her master’s degree from Western Governors University in Utah. Victoria has a passion for technology integration and authentic learning experiences to support her students being successful as 21st century learners. She has served as a robotics club adviser, grade-level chair, Schoology and Nearpod trainer, and, during virtual learning, was selected to have several math lessons air on WHRO Education Television.


2023 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Kristen Strickland!

Kristen Strickland

Mrs. Kristen Strickland has been selected as Chesapeake Public Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Strickland is a Technology Integration Specialist at Deep Creek Middle School (DCM). She graduated from Liberty University in 2006 with a degree in Secondary English Education. Shortly after beginning her career at Oscar Smith Middle, she received a Master’s in English from Old Dominion University. In 2010, she moved to Pennsylvania where she became a Title I Reading Specialist. After filling many roles there, she returned to Chesapeake in 2011 where she held English and Reading positions at Oscar Smith Middle and, later, DCM. In her current position, she has expanded her reach to all students and teachers in her school as their Technology Integration Specialist. Along with sharing her love of using technology in the classroom, Mrs. Strickland also serves as a debate coach, a morning announcements sponsor, and as a webmaster and social media manager for DCM.

2023 High School Teacher of the Year is Joy Speelman!

Joy SpeelmanMrs. Joy Speelman has been selected as Chesapeake Public Schools High School Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Speelman is a Workforce Development Coordinator at the Chesapeake Career Center. A graduate of Indian River High Schoo, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Old Dominion University. She began her career as a Marketing Education teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth. Two years later, she jumped at the opportunity to teach at her alma mater. At Indian River she taught a number of marketing and occupational classes. In 2019, she moved to the position of Workforce Development Coordinator at the Chesapeake Career Center. In her current role, she is helping to develop a pipeline of trained and professional workers who graduate high school fully prepared to enter the Hampton Roads workforce. In May, 2022, over eighty students committed to full time employment with forty-two employers at the school’s Signing Day ceremony.


Since 1964, Virginia has participated in the National Teacher of the Year Program. The program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). In 2006, Virginia’s Teacher of the Year Program was renamed in honor of Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia and National Teacher of the Year. The late Dr. Bicouvaris was a teacher in Hampton City Public Schools and was Virginia’s first National Teacher of the Year. The Mary V. Bicourvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year Program honors teachers who represent the best in teaching in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation. Mrs. Hickey will now begin her work navigating the state teacher of the year process. Best of luck to Mrs. Hickey!