Virginia ASCD, the leading organization in the state dedicated to innovation and excellence in teaching and learning, has recognized Chris Gareis, professor of educational policy, planning and leadership, with the 2017 Leadership Award. Gareis was honored during the opening session of the organization's annual conference, held in Williamsburg on November 30.
The award is presented annually to one Virginia educator who demonstrates outstanding leadership in curriculum, instruction and/or assessment. Nominees are those leaders "whose understanding of and dedication to best instructional practice is reflected both in the nominee’s own work and in the work of those she or he leads,” according to the organization’s web site.
“I am a bit awestruck by the award,” said Gareis. “VASCD is an organization comprised of K-12 teachers, school administrators and division leaders, so I consider the award a particular honor because it represents to me the impact of my work on the field.”
Leslie Grant, associate dean of academic programs at the W&M School of Education, cited Gareis’s collaborative work with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and educators across the state to modernize Virginia’s assessment system as a signature achievement. Two years ago, Virginia signaled a change in what it holds as important student outcomes, reducing the number of state assessments and calling for more authentic assessments of student performance.
“The shift demanded a rethinking of curriculum, instruction and assessment,” said Grant. “Virginia has been fortunate to have a national, and indeed international expert in curriculum, instruction and assessment to lead the way.”
For the past several years, Gareis has worked with teachers and educational leaders across the state to develop performance-based assessments that are integrated into instruction, engage students in higher-order thinking, and are themselves meaningful learning experiences for students.
“His leadership in performance-based assessment resulted in bringing the tectonic shift that the state envisioned to reality,” said Grant.
Gareis began his career as a high school English teacher and subsequently served as an assistant to the superintendent, a middle school teacher, an assistant principal, and then as a principal. In 2001, he joined William & Mary as an associate dean, where he directed the teacher preparation program and developed a network of partnership schools and clinical faculty in support of teacher education and school counselor education. Now focused on teaching and research, Gareis leads courses in curriculum development, instructional leadership, teacher mentoring, classroom assessment and program evaluation within the Curriculum Leadership program.
Throughout his career, Gareis has collaborated with classroom teachers, school leaders, and division and state-level administrators to solve problems of practice and develop teacher capacity in instruction and assessment. “Individual divisions and regions call upon Dr. Gareis because of his thoughtful manner of working with teachers and his ability to instruct and energize teachers,” said Amy Griffin, superintendent of Cumberland County Public Schools.
“Virginia ASCD is committed to advancing innovation and excellence in the Commonwealth's public schools, and Chris Gareis is a model of the leadership needed to achieve that mission. He is a catalyst and a support for important efforts to modernize education for Virginia’s students. We are delighted to have the opportunity to honor him,” said VASCD Executive Director Laurie McCullough.