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Hidden Valley principal named Virginia Middle School Educator of the Year

Dr. Christopher Benson Named Virginia Middle School Association Educator of the Year

Roanoke, VA (March 8, 2024): The Virginia Middle School Association (VMSA) is thrilled to announce Dr. Christopher Benson as the 2024 Barbara Nichols Educator of the Year Award recipient. Dr. Benson serves as the principal of Hidden Valley Middle School (HVMS) and has dedicated six and a half years to the school community.

The VMSA recognizes Dr. Benson's exceptional leadership and commitment to fostering a positive and supportive learning environment for middle school students. Throughout his tenure at HVMS, Dr. Benson has spearheaded innovative initiatives that address the unique needs of middle schoolers.

Upon arriving at HVMS, Dr. Benson identified a need for a more proactive approach to student behavior management.  He led the school in adopting Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a framework focused on creating a positive and predictable school climate. This included developing clear expectations, providing positive reinforcement, and implementing tiered interventions for additional support.

Recognizing the importance of social-emotional well-being, Dr. Benson spearheaded the creation of an advisory program at HVMS – a novel initiative within Roanoke County at the time.  He researched best practices and collaborated with a team to develop grade-level lessons focused on social-emotional learning. This program's success has inspired similar practices across the entire school division.

Dr. Benson's unwavering dedication to middle school education extends beyond his own school. His leadership in implementing PBIS and advisory programs has impacted every middle school in Roanoke County. The VMSA commends Dr. Benson's commitment to middle school students and his passion for creating a supportive and enriching learning environment.

"Dr. Benson exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding middle school leader," said VMSA President, Dr. Elizabeth Sanders. "His vision, dedication, and collaborative approach have transformed the culture at HVMS and inspired positive change across the district."

About the Virginia Middle School Association (VMSA):

The VMSA is a professional organization dedicated to supporting and promoting excellence in middle school education throughout Virginia. The association provides professional development opportunities, resources, and advocacy for educators working with students in grades 6-8.