Fall 2022 Cooperating Teacher Appreciation: Henrico County Public Schools


This week we’re sharing our gratitude for the wonderful cooperating teachers throughout Virginia who welcomed our students into their classrooms for practicum and student teaching during the Fall 2022 semester.

Below are messages of thanks from our students who have worked with these fantastic educators!

Henrico County Public Schools

Douglas S. Freeman High School – Elizabeth Jones

Ms. Jones teaches ceramics and Ap art history at Freeman High School. She brings lots of enthusiasm into the classroom and cultivates a space where students can be curious about the material. She is such a hard worker, and I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to learn from her. -Wedge

Echo Lake Elementary – Merle James

Ms. Merle James is an amazing art teacher and such a warm and inviting person! From the start, she was willing to go above and beyond for me, continuously making time to discuss ideas with me, providing insightful feedback as well as all the necessary resources for me to succeed. She also constantly motivated and reassured me throughout my teaching experience with her, which I deeply appreciated. The art project she jump started the school year with spoke to my own philosophy on art education, as she engaged the entire school community in a collaborative wing mural project, which immediately brought me joy in the learning space with her. Thank you so much Ms. James for all your support and guidance!

Henrico High School – Kim Varela

Ms. Kim is a detailed-oriented, caring teacher who’s an expert in her craft and does what’s best for her students’ wellbeing and education. She offers great insights to make me a better teacher, and shows me how to connect with school support personnel and students’ support systems to promote student learning. It’s a pleasure for me to work with her and her students. -Trinh Tran

Holladay Elementary School – Erika Giles

Erika has been so helpful throughout my practicum. She has been attentive and thoughtful and has made me feel welcome and seen since day one. I love the conversations we have after our classes. I had many miscellaneous questions answered which is great because teaching is a very case by case basis and things that came up in the moment may now be referenced in a classroom. -Ryn Williams


I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to work with Erika Giles at Holladay Elementary. She is a passionate educator and has been so helpful with my art education journey during this semester. Erika has demonstrated appreciation for her career which helps me keep work in perspective. I am reminded how rewarding teaching art can be. -Tori Huynh

Hungary Creek Middle School – Kathy Tanner

Ms. Tanner was such a wonderful mentor to me during my time at Hungary Creek, I learned so much from her; she has inspired me to most likely teach middle school art and I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with her! -Gillian

J.R. Tucker High School – Anne-Marie Slinkman

Ms. Slinkman is my cooperating teacher at Tucker highschool and has been a fantastic mentor. She has great lesson ideas and classroom management. She has been open to all my lesson plan ideas and has helped so much during this experience. She is an outstanding educator who cares about her students and their growth. -Jayce

J.R. Tucker High School – Melvina Roane

I was so lucky to be partnered with a teacher who is so understanding and connected to her students. Having Ms. Roane as a mentor was an amazing opportunity and a great introductory to the high school teaching experience! -Gillian

It was a joy getting to teach alongside Melvina and learning how she interacts with her students and what systems she uses to make her art classroom tick. I enjoyed teaching at Tucker not only for the beautiful and unique school, but also for the positive atmosphere its students brought on. It is obvious Melvina is a talented art educator because of her helpful and upbeat interactions with the students and how much they love getting to talk to her. I felt very supported when I was teaching in her classroom and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to see how her art teaching operates. -Lindsey Schwartzkopf

Ms. Melvina Roane has been a force of light for me. Upon entering the school space, I have seen the love the students have for her, and the love she has for them. Her positive energy and genuine openness clearly bring the student comfort, as they cling to her daily like glue. That energy and openness have also brought me comfort as her student teacher and made my experience enjoyable, reassuring, supportive, and inspiring. She pushes her students, but also respects them. The relationships she has developed among her students and colleagues is extremely refreshing. She gives so much of herself. I hope to express at least half of the teacher’s essence she exudes. Thank you so much Ms. Roane for all you are and all you do.

Lakeside Elementary School – Amy Powroznik

Ms. P is a guiding light among the confusion of practicum. She always makes a point to make sure everyone around her is comfortable. As a teacher, she is the embodiment of a safe space. Anyone around her loves her, she truly has an infectious energy. – Lilly Howard

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had Amy Powroznik as my cooperative teacher! Not only has she taught us so much about teaching and what it takes to be a teacher inside and outside the classroom, but she also has been so kind and helpful during our lessons and in between. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, I truly believe that the time I’ve had with Amy this past month have helped me become a better teacher and a better person. Thank you Amy!! -Emma Harrison

My teacher was Amy Powroznik, and she was a delight to have as our host teacher. While we had our break between classes, she kept us company, told us stories, and kept it very real with us. She was an amazing teacher to observe, and an extraordinary resource to learn from. Even though teaching can be overwhelming and a little disheartening, she kept our spirits up and every moment learning and hearing from her was a joy. I wouldn’t have any other teacher, and I totally recommend her for future practicum and student teaching experiences. -Trinity Miller

Rivers Edge Elementary School – Betsy Pennington

I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Betsy Pennington. She is a veteran art teacher who in her own words has “seen it all”, and it was a privilege to work with her and absorb some of that wisdom. So many of her tips will be carried with me into my future as an art educator- thank you, Betsy! -Elise Wojtowicz

Short Pump Middle – Brendan Rossner

Mr. Rossner gave great advice and feedback. He shared his lesson plans and really great teaching resources with us.

Twin Hickory Elementary School – Caitlin Lofaro

Mrs. Lofaro is a kind and outgoing person. I’ve watched her push through different trials and always give 100% to her students. I want to thank Mrs. Lofaro for making me feel comfortable and welcome in my first teaching experience. You gave me a lot of helpful ideas for my lessons and different ways to navigate the classroom. You were the most significant help ever, and I will always appreciate you for making my first teaching experience amazing. -Mishe’a Tarpley

I am working with Mrs. Lofaro at Twin Hickory Elementary. I don’t have much experience with being in the classroom, and she always knows when to step in and help me which helps a lot with my nerves. Mrs. Lofaro is very giving and has been more than happy to allow my classmate and I to use any of her art supplies. We even got to see her lesson plans and how she likes to organize her units. It was nice to see how lessons would be handled in the real world after being in my classes for so long. She even helped me adjust my lesson plan so it would be age appropriate and doable. The class environment is very colorful and friendly, and you can tell how much the kids enjoy her class. It is very inspiring and she has provided me with so much information on how to set up my own lessons and classroom. -Susu Johnson

Wilder Middle School – Sasha Odom

I was blessed to work under Ms. Odom at Wilder Middle school and see the ins and outs of her teaching style. Not only was Ms. Odom understanding and empathetic, but also she offered valuable instruction and helpful teaching strategies to both me and my practicum partner. I am thankful to have had the opportunity of teaching in her classroom and learned so much from this middle school experience. -Lindsey Schwartkopf