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Norfolk VFW post cheers Ocean Lakes HS music teacher Janice Ricci as its Teacher of the Year for Vir

Janice Ricci, a music specialist at Ocean Lakes Elementary School, was just selected by Norfolk Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4809 as its Teacher of the Year for Virginia.

The award recognizes exceptional educators who promote America’s history and the role of military veterans in shaping and protecting the country.

“I incorporate patriotic activities in my curriculum because when American youth appreciate the dreams and sacrifices of past and present generations, it will inspire them to become the next great leaders of our nation,” said Ricci.

The daughter of a Korean War veteran, a Daughters of the American Revolution member and a Virginia Beach City Public Schools teacher for 15 years, Ricci serves as the post's youth activities chair and as junior vice president.

In her nomination application, post members celebrated Ricci for “instilling the greatness of our country in the minds of children.”

She not only incorporates various patriotic and civic learning activities with her students, she also involves them in community celebrations and has organized student patriotic performances for a VFW Memorial Day service; for Daughters of the American Revolution local and state conventions; and for a 9-11 memorial observance.

Janice Ricci, a music specialist at Ocean Lakes Elementary School, was just selected by the Norfolk VFW Post 4809 as its Teacher of the Year for Virginia. She is seen here with two unidentified post members. (Courtesy photo.)

Her desire to promote patriotism with her students evolved into a “Patriotic Salute” stage presentation, with first- and third-graders dressing as historical characters, to tell the story of America, through music.

That production earned Ricci the “George Washington Award” from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

This school year, Ricci helped organize a Veteran’s Day celebration at Ocean Lakes, with all students wearing red, white and blue as they opened the event with a schoolwide, “Thank a Vet” tribute.

All students joined in singing the song lyrics, some of which were, “If you love your country, thank a vet,” and, “If you cherish freedom, thank a vet.” Students across the grade levels had learned the lyrics in Ricci’s music class.

That celebration was followed by a schoolwide letter-writing campaign that gave students an opportunity to write thank-you notes and cards that Ricci distributed to post veterans, the Hampton Veterans Administration Medical Center and to troops overseas.

For her inspirational work, Ricci has been honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, for a song composition and as her school’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

She is also a USO Hampton Roads volunteer and a national Parent Teacher Association member.

After being honored locally, her nomination was advanced to the state level, where she was named the Commonwealth’s VFW Teacher of the Year.

(Story and photo courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.)


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