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Arlington teacher advances in Teacher of the Year contest

Michelle Cottrell-Williams, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 (ABC7 photo) 

Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe started her day at an Arlington high school. She and other education officials were at Wakefield to make a big announcement. "People just kept coming and coming and coming and I have no words. This is incredible," Social Studies teacher Michelle Cottrell-Williams explained.

"Incredible" is the general opinion of the educator who McAulliffe announced is the new Region 4 Teacher of the Year. Already named Arlington's Teacher of the Year, Cottrell-Williams is now the top teacher in the Northern Virginia region and becomes one of eight finalists for Virginia's Teacher of the Year Award offered by the Virginia Department of Education.

Students and school leaders were eager to share their thoughts about the woman who is described as creative and a teacher who fosters positive relationships with her students.

Chris Willmore, Principal at Wakefield shared, "She just has an incredible ability to communicate her belief in them and her passion for their success and their ability."

Seventeen-year-old senior Ana Sofia Uro-De Leon is in Cottrell-Williams' sociology class. "So far she's been very open-minded and very positive," she offered.

Alexander Pearson agreed and continued, "I think she really wants us to enjoy learning and make learning a journey rather than just like a routine." For more than 10 years, Cottrell-Williams has brought that teaching style to Wakefield and is honored that people are taking notice. "That other people recognize that what I'm doing matters is pretty amazing," she said.

On September 18, Cottrell-Williams heads to Richmond, Virginia to attend a banquet where she'll find out if she's been selected as Virginia's Teacher of the Year.

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