EMS educators receive awards at the VAIS convention for their positive impact

November 7, 2023 / Christine Coddington

Recently the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) held an educators convention in Richmond. Awards were presented to honor educators and recognize those individuals in VAIS schools who make positive impacts in their communities by inspiring students’ excitement about learning, motivating colleagues to grow professionally, and impacting the school community in positive and tangible ways. 

Congratulations goes to Maria Archer and Jesse Blosser. These educators are certainly deserving of this honor for their efforts to inspire learning, professional growth, and positive changes within their school community.  The following two paragraphs provide a summary of the remarks given before Jesse and Maria received their awards.

Maria Archer, Eastern Mennonite Elementary (EMES) principal, was recognized for embracing all of those qualities for Early Childhood school. Ms. Archer was the founding principle at EMES, her innovative leadership has this division thriving. Under her direction, relevant learning experiences frame virtually everything the students do. Days when knees and hands get dirty through play and work are good days. Maria led the development of peace-building programs through continuing education for nearly all EMS teachers in restorative justice in education. From the youngest students through the adults and the buildings, students and faculty have deep understanding of emotional well-being, respect themselves and others, and knowledge of how to practice restorative measures when things go awry. For the last number of years, Ms. Archer added the role of MS principle to her plate, helping to expand the restorative culture into middle and high school. Head of school Paul shared “because of Ms. Archer’s steady and innovative leadership, our school has become more true to our vision as a place every student belongs, thrives, and will join God’s positive work in the world as our students become adults.” 

The 2023 Free Innovation award for middle school was awarded to Jesse Blosser. As head of the math department, Mr. Blosser helps colleagues work to become their best selves while advocating for the needs of students in conjunction with school administration. Jesse works with struggling seventh graders in remedial math, thriving mathematicians in AP calculus, and students in between. Mr. Blosser led the math department to brainstorm in response to the “Covid gap” that has happened in many math classes globally. He’s also developed to computer programming courses to equip students with the necessary skills for the IT jobs of the 21st century. In addition to the work Mr. Blosser does for the math department, he’s developed a new elective course called “adulting”, where students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about things that adults need to navigate outside the content commonly learned in school. This summer Mr. Blosser led a group of students on a discovery trip, a month-long cross country experience to dig deep into issues related to people, land, water resources, and the important learning that takes place outside of our classrooms. Laura Lawson, EMS math teacher shared, “our school is a better place, providing a better education and moving forward with our thinking, because of Mr. Blosser’s innovative thinking and willingness to jump in and try new things. 


Check out some more photos from this story

Leave a Comment