First Five APS All Stars Announced

APS all stars logoAPS is excited to announce the first APS All Stars, selected out of over 200 outstanding staff nominees! These individuals demonstrate excellence in collaboration, equity, inclusivity, integrity, innovation and stewardship. They are members of the APS team who are the first to pitch in, who bring a positive attitude to their work, and go above and beyond to serve students. Congratulations to these individuals!

Mariflor Ventura, Bus Attendant

Five Words to Describe Employee: Humanitarian, empath, community-builder, and neighbor

From left: Mariflor Ventura, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán

Why they are an APS All Star: Ms. Ventura embodies the bridge between newly immigrated Latino families and a homey life here in Arlington County. As a bus attendant, Ms. Ventura accounts for the safety of students of all ages and ability statuses. Ms. Ventura creates pathways for first-generation students by noticing if someone does not have winter attire and makes connections for properly clothing them. Ms. Ventura uses her Arlington neighbors network to provide adequate resources for enrolling students in school and in August 2021 organized a back-to-school drive.  In the early days of the pandemic, Ms. Ventura found herself staying home from work and getting to know her neighbors better. After realizing many around her were not getting paid, struggling to keep everyone fed, and surviving coronavirus, she began giving away pantry staples. A bag of rice and beans from her kitchen lead to a multitude of regular donors of food, diapers, clothes, and household items. Initially, she would stage free giveaways for neighbors on the curb in front of her apartment but now organizes her biweekly, community events at a local church. Ms. Ventura exemplifies an employee going above and beyond their job description of caring for students inside of a school bus.

Claire Peters, Principal, Innovation Elementary

Five Words to Describe Employee: Understanding, Supportive, Positive, Authentic, Kind

From left: Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán, Claire Peters

Why they are an APS All Star: It is every teachers’ or school employees’ dream to work for a principal who treats you like a human. Ms. Peters does more than that. She’s created a school environment where staff, students and families WANT to be every day. As staff members she makes us feel like she has our back and no issue is too big, too small or too ridiculous to bring to her attention. She takes the time to work through problems and brainstorm solutions. Claire isn’t afraid to cover a recess duty or serve a lunch. If she’s asking a staff member to do it, she wouldn’t hesitate to do it herself. She is her true authentic self, and she treats each and every one of her staff members as people who have lives in and outside of APS.

James Sample, Teacher, Washington-Liberty High School

Five Words to Describe Employee: Compassionate, strong-willed, hard-worker, ingenious, and open-minded.

From left: Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán, James Sample, Tony Hall

Why they are an APS All Star:  Those who work with Mr. Sample see firsthand his remarkable passion for service to his students, staff, parents and community. His authenticity, kindness, motivation, dependability, and work ethic make him an invaluable member of our school community. He is also a tireless advocate who, in every decision and action, asks himself, “What is in the best interest of this student?” Mr. Sample consistently displays a high degree of honesty, responsibility, and motivation. Mr. Sample has a keen eye and empathy for all individuals, adults, and students as we facetogether the issues of racial equity. He knows the nuances and obstacles we need to address in data collection and data dives to show the inequities and challenges BIPOC students face in our education system. James also looks for the gifts and talents of all the students he works with and seeks to find opportunities to grow their abilities.

Christina Smith, Teacher, Yorktown High School

Five Words to Describe Employee: Compassionate, dedicated, empathetic and hardworking 

Christina Smith
From left: Christina Smith, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán

Why they are an APS All Star: Ms. Smith is an APS All Star because she has always gone above and beyond for her students. Just recently, she was sewing a hole in a jacket for one of her students who didn’t want to wear it. Ms. Smith gives tirelessly of herself to make sure students have food, clothing and get a great education. She is in constant contact with her students and their parents. Ms. Smith never stops working for students. She works with the summer program to help ELL’s bridge the gap of learning loss they may experience coming to a new county. Ms. Smith is a great teacher with a huge heart of gold.

Guillermo Moran, Maintenance Supervisor, Randolph Elementary

From left: Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and Guillermo Moran surrounded by students
From left: Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and Guillermo Moran surrounded by students

Five Words to Describe Employee: Hard-working, dedicated, responsive, kind, important

Why they are an APS All Star: Mr. Moran is the Head Custodian at Randolph and truly keeps the school running! He is ALWAYS working, always accessible and takes incredible pride in the work he does. Mr. Moran is extremely responsive to the needs of every staff member and quickly comes to help a staff member in need.  He is always smiling and positive, greeting everyone happily every day as he walks the hallways.  He is very present for our students…and can often be found playing soccer with our students at recess! Before school started, he came up with the idea to decorate the school to make it as welcoming as possible for students and staff and created and hung beautiful decorations down the main hallway.  It truly made everyone feel welcome and ready to start the year.  He just cares so deeply about Randolph and everyone he meets.

Mr. Moran was on vacation during our APS All Star tour and will be honored upon his return. 

Nominate an APS All Star today!