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Two SOE alumnae earn first-year teacher honors in Henrico County
Laura Schultheiss (left) and Taneesha Lustig display their First Year Teacher of the Year awards

Laura Schultheiss (left) and Taneesha Lustig display their First Year Teacher of the Year awards

As the Class of 2016 celebrates receiving their degrees following last weekend's Commencement, a pair of recent School of Education alumnae are illustrating just how quickly graduates can make an impact in their chosen fields. Taneesha Lustig and Laura Schultheiss, who received their M.T. in early and elementary education in 2015, both earned First-Year Teacher of the Year honors for their respective Henrico County schools.

"Receiving my school's First-Year Teacher of the Year award was a wonderful yet unexpected surprise," Lustig said. "I'm one of five first-year teachers this year at Montrose Elementary, so winning definitely meant a lot to me. It's a huge honor."

"[Being named First-Year Teacher of the Year] means I chose the right path," Schultheiss, a fifth-grade teacher in Highland Springs Elementary School, said. "It's affirmation that I am where I am supposed to be, and I'm honored that my colleagues think that as well."

Though navigating the first year in your own classroom is rarely an uneventful journey, both Lustig and Schultheiss credit their time at the School of Education with helping prepare them for the challenges ahead.

"I had all the tools I needed to be successful," Schultheiss said, "and the support I got from the VCU professors and staff was great too: they stayed in touch even after I had already graduated. It made me feel like VCU is more of a community than a university. They really care about your success and don't just leave you out to dry."

"VCU has such an excellent teacher prep program," Lustig said. "I'll never forget the professors and advisers that prepared me for a career in teaching. I knew that the first year would be difficult, but it has all been worth it to see my students' progress."