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ACPS Announces Five Leaders Selected as Final VIP Award Winners for the 2022-23 School Year

ACPS Announces Five Leaders Selected as Final VIP Award Winners for the 2022-23 School Year

Recipients for the fourth and final category of the 2022-23 Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Vision, Integrity and Passion (VIP) Awards have been named in the leadership category which includes Central Office and building-level administration. ACPS’ VIP recipients are:

  • Marcella Ahern, assistant principal at Charles Barrett Elementary School (Charles Barrett).
  • Gladis Bourdouane, assistant director of communications from the Department of School and Communications. 
  • Dr. Tricia Jacobs, director of career and technical education from the Department of Teaching Learning and Leadership.
  • Rebecca Pittman, assistant principal of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School (Douglas MacArthur).
  • Christopher Speich, campus administrator at Alexandria City High School (ACHS).

ACPS is grateful for the dedication and service of the latest recipients of the division's 2023 VIP Awards.

Charles Barrett’s Marcella Ahern drew high praise in being nominated for a VIP award. “Ms. Ahern has been a rock of stability and support for the Charles Barrett school community through multiple leadership transitions and the pandemic. She has earned the highest level of respect from staff, is beloved by students and is deeply appreciated by the wider community for her deep knowledge, frankness and commitment,” Principal Loren Brody stated. Lead Special Education Teacher Melissa Poggio added that Ahern’s background as an English Learner (EL) teacher is beneficial in her administrative role, “She has been an integral part of the individualized education program (IEP) meetings, providing insight into both the EL and special education side of instruction and has provided meaningful dialogue within these meetings.”

Gladis Bourdouane is lauded as being a genuinely caring individual who takes the time to support each and every person in an impactful and affirmative manner. With more than 22 years of experience, Bourdouane joined the ACPS Communications Office in August 2021 as its assistant director of communications. “She has revamped the way we share information and do storytelling on all social media channels, the website and videos. She also led the process to launch a new website in the absence of a webmaster,” Chief of School and Community Relations Julia Burgos noted. “Gladis has a strong commitment to equity and is passionate about ensuring that many perspectives and voices are shared in our communications and that our division’s information is available in multiple languages and formats,” added Executive Director of Communications Kathy Mimberg. Her outstanding work is appreciated throughout the school division. "Gladis consistently demonstrates a strong work ethic, and her positive attitude and energy are contagious, lifting the morale of everyone around her. Her attention to detail and ability to identify and solve problems by providing valuable insights and suggestions have been instrumental in helping our budget team to achieve our goals," said Director of Budget and Financial Systems Robert Easley.


Dr. Tricia Jacobs’ nominations for a VIP Award focus on her vast knowledge and experience in Career and Technical Education (CTE). She is recognized for providing leadership for the division’s CTE programs as she builds a vision using its strengths and areas of growth. Dr. Jacobs helps empower CTE teachers to provide rigorous and relevant curriculum, instruction and work-based learning experiences for students. Dr. Jacobs encourages teachers to be a part of their own professional learning groups as she also keeps up to date on CTE locally and nationally. “She writes and maintains grants that provide programs for ACPS students,” CTE Work-Based Learning & Workforce Development Specialist Sarah Black explained. She added “It is an honor to work with a professional whose focus is on students and providing equitable opportunities for all.” CTE Board Advisor Adan Chicas stated that Dr. Jacobs “has made a direct impact on families and the community by providing access to education for many students including those in special populations.”

Rebecca Pittman is called a true VIP by Douglas MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston, who said her efforts as a school leader impact all areas of teaching and learning. “While supporting Douglas MacArthur's school improvement initiatives, Ms. Pittman has impacted our school's success. Ms. Pittman has a clear vision for supporting students by building and fostering relationships,” Hairston noted. Douglas MacArthur School Counselor Ricky Tanis stated, “Ms. Pittman exemplifies what we should all strive for as an educator. She is a calming presence, and is always ready to take on the challenges of the school day with patience, kindness and positive energy.” Megan Pantaleon who is an EL teacher at Douglas MacArthur commended Ms. Pittman for being “extremely organized” as she helps the school to run smoothly and efficiently.


Accolades for Christopher Speich center on his focus for solving operational and safety/security concerns within ACHS. Speich has also been singled out for his ability to clarify instructional expectations and for having revamped how the administrative team leads. “He's provided explicit guidance for tier one instruction and is working with the Department of Teaching, Learning and Leadership to provide substantive feedback to staff,” ACHS - Minnie Howard Campus Administrator Alexander Duncan III said. “Christopher Speich has spearheaded a change in culture at ACHS across all levels, from the students to the teachers,” added ACHS International Academy ELL Teacher Gabriel Elias. ACHS English Teacher Katherine Bentley noted, “He is tirelessly advocating for our staff with the Central Office, working to create a stronger, clear vision for our school and holding students to a high standard.” And in nominating Speich, ACHS - King Street Campus Assistant Principal Michael Burch stated, “His energy and leadership is infectious.”



  • 2022-23
  • Staff Engagement
  • VIP Awards