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Hanover teacher surprised with national teaching award

Afreen Gootee with her family

HANOVER, Va. – On Monday, Afreen Gootee wore a huge smile and held a crystal owl in her palm.

Moments earlier she had just walked into a celebration held in honor of her winning a prestigious national teaching award.

The event was a surprise, and her husband and two sons looked on proudly as their mom flashed brilliant smiles for the cameras.

Gootee is one of only five recipients nationwide this year to receive the NEA Foundation’s prestigious 2018 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. She has taught for Hanover County schools since August 1987, and the award recognized the work she does teaching sixth-to-eighth grade mathematics and social studies at Georgetown School in Mechanicsville.

Afreen Gootee and her colleagues

She applied for the award awhile ago, and knew she was a finalist.

Monday’s breakfast celebration has been planned over the past month by school division employees and was also a surprise to Gootee’s colleagues.

She will travel to Washington, D.C. in February to receive the award and $10,000 at the NEA Foundation Gala.