MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — Film and communications teacher, Amanda McDaniel, has been named the 2021-2022 Innovator of the Year.

According to Hanover County Public Schools, the award exists to encourage and empower teachers to transform learning by continuously challenging, inspiring, and engaging students using new and relevant ideas.

McDaniel was surprised with the award at a faculty meeting earlier this week by Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools. She received $1,000 from the Hanover Education Foundation which she plans to use to expand the Mechanicsville Film Festival, a school-wide event she created earlier in the year.

McDaniel’s initially started the Film Festival to promote her IB film class but eventually expanded it across other classes as well. McDaniel encouraged other teachers to incorporate filmmaking into relevant assignments and submit those videos for the Film Festival, which brought together students, their families, staff, and the community. The event was a first for Mechanicsville High School.

Mechanicsville High School Principal Charles Stevens said McDaniel is “very passionate about film, broadcasting, and mass communications.”

“It is evident from her enthusiasm and her creativity as a teacher,” Stevens said. “She is constantly striving to enhance her practice as a teacher and the learning experiences of her students.”

This is only McDaniel’s second year as a teacher after previously working as a Communications Specialist for Hanover County Public Schools.

“It is a great honor to be named the Innovator of the Year. The past two years have changed everything, but education has had to adapt perhaps the most,” McDaniel said. “We continue to find new, relevant, and engaging ways to teach our students. MHS is the perfect environment for innovation and I am so very happy to be here.”