Amber Hornbarger (M.T. ‘17): HCPS Teacher of the Year

Alum values SOE’s program and teachers

Amber Hornbarger (M.T. '17), fourth grade teacher at Glen Lea Elementary School in Henrico County.
Amber Hornbarger (M.T. '17)

Amber Hornbarger (M.T. ‘17) was recently honored as First Year Teacher of the Year by Henrico County Public Schools. She teaches fourth grade at Glen Lea Elementary School and is a recent alumna of the VCU School of Education.

Hornbarger credits SOE’s Master of Teaching program for instilling in her the confidence to walk into her first classroom feeling prepared and ready to teach. She was drawn to VCU because of its urban environment and to the School of Education because she believed it would provide the rigor and challenge that she needed.

During her time here, she found her professors to be culturally competent, trauma informed, and diverse in their experience. “They’re also genuinely interested in their students’ success, and that support doesn’t end when you graduate,” she said, adding that she and many of her fellow classmates are still in touch with their professors to ask for advice or feedback.

Hornbarger knew she wanted to be a teacher beginning in high school, when she babysat, coached sports and tutored young children. Her desire to become a teacher was affirmed when she volunteered as a mentor at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center during college. “That experience helped me to understand the value of relationships and how to reach students who are reluctant to learn,” she said.

It also deeply influenced her current teaching philosophy. She says that her goal today is to teach the whole child, educating them beyond the lesson plan so that they become a productive citizen of society. “This includes educating them in character and ethics by creating a bond of trust with them,” she said.

Hornbarger recommends the School of Education to anyone considering an advanced degree in education, with one simple piece of advice: “Always work hard, embrace reflection, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Pictured on homepage and on News landing page: Hornbarger accepts her award as First Year Teacher of the Year