Congratulations to Lenette Hillian, the Council for Learning Disabilities’


Teacher of the Year

award recipient for 2021.

2021 VCLD Teacher of the Year–Lenette Hillian

Lenette Hillian-Sanders, 2021 VCLD Teacher of the Year

Lenette Hillian-Sanders is a Special Educator who has taught in both inclusion and self-contained settings for 15 years. She remains abreast of instructional best practices for students with disabilities as a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and Virginia Council for Learning Disabilities (VCLD). Through her leadership role as Special Education Department Chair, she serves as a liaison between school administration, content specialists, and special education teachers and advises general and special educators on how to best meet the individualized needs of students with disabilities. Lenette was also awarded the 2021 Council of Learning Disabilities National Teacher of the Year Award!

2020 VCLD Teacher of the Year–Rory Duffield

Rory Duffield, 2020 VCLD Teacher of the Year

An excerpt from his principal:

As a principal, I strive to hire as many teachers for my school like Rory Duffield as I can possibly find. Three yars ago when I learned he was looking to get back into teaching, I jumped at the opportunity to hire him. He is professional, caring and everything he does is with the best interest of students in mind. This year Rory is a member of the geometry collaborative team, a highly respected member. Rory team teaches Geometry with a general education teacher. This teacher describes him as highly professional extremely organized and a wiz with technology. Each interaction Rory has with a student, staff or parent is deliberate and thoughtful. One of his strengths is his ability to turn something negative into a positive, reframe and refocus so that all communication is professional, student centered and positive. Some would say professionalism can come across as forced, cold or uncaring. Not Rory, one of Rory’s greatest strengths is his kind and caring nature. He truly cares about each student. This is not limited to their academics, rather he conveys care and concern for each student’s well being inside and outside the classroom. Parents appreciate this and staff rely on this when they struggle to connect with a student.

Rory knows student’s interests and strengths as well as how to capitalize on them to overcome weaknesses when students face challenges. As I mentioned above, Rory connects with students.He is willing to work with students until they master a concept and will teach it in a variety of ways using various means. Technology is a strength of Rory’s and he shares this with his peers as well as utilizes it to positively enhance instruction. He pulls out a variety of strategies to ensure success from his students, regardless of whether they are in team taught or self – contained classes.

2020 Early Career Special Educator Award–Taylor Flavin

Taylor Flavin, 2020 VCLD Early Career Special Educator Award

Taylor Flavin is an outstanding example of an early career professional with high impact on the students she serves. Specifically, she carries out effective instructional lessons and manages diverse classrooms using evidence-based practices. As a first-year teacher, Taylor transitioned Wenonah Elementary from a resource to an inclusive model of special education. This is an outstanding achievement! She is a strong collaborator with her co-teachers, implementing the different models of co-teaching as appropriate. Furthermore, she has a strength in developing rapport with her students and considering their individual needs in order to differentiate instruction. Given her energy level and the impact of these practices, Taylor was chosen in her second year of teaching as Teacher of the Year for Wenonah Elementary for 2017-2018.  

In her second year of teaching, Taylor inaugurated the Inclusion Day Event for Wenonah Elementary. This past fall Taylor and the school inclusion committee sponsored their 3rd annual Inclusion Day, with representation from 35 organizations. This event was attended by over 500 community members. The Inclusion Days have promoted disability awareness and celebrated diversity within the school and community. They have been an integral part of enhancing the school culture to be more accepting, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of all students. Taylor is a true advocate for students and families!