Our Student Success Stories

By ecwilliford
June 05, 2020

Our Edison Academy students and alumni are amazing! We celebrate them in this blog where we share their many accomplishments achieved both in and outside of the classroom! Check back often for the latest stories as we add them!  

Gregory Takoda "Kody"  - Automotive Technology I, II & III - Class of 2020

Edison Academy Overall Student of the Year and Student of the Year for Automotive Technology  (Teacher - Mr. Bogan) 

Photo of Kody Richards talking to students at WSHS about the Auto Tech programKody studied in Automotive Technology  levels I, II, and III at Edison Academy. He was chosen to participate in a paid internship with the Fairfax County Government's Department of Vehicles Services at their Newington location during his senior year in level III of the program. Kody described that work experience as "awesome".  He attained both ASE industry certifications offered in his Auto Tech program; A5 Brakes and G1 Maintenance and Light Repair and was a great student in the lab and classroom for which he was recognized multiple times over the  three years as a Student of the Quarter in Automotive Technology.  Kody participated in the high school SkillsUSA program competitions earning 2nd place in 2020 in the district competitions for Automotive Servicing. Also in 2020, Kody was featured in a national publication for educators, 'NEA Today', in their issue highlighting the value of Career and Technical Education.  Kody was named Student of the Year for Automotive Technology in 2020 and was also named Student of the Year Overall from the faculty of Edison Academy.

Luis - Automotive Collision I & II - Class of 2020 

Student of the Year for Automotive Collision (Teacher - Mr. Cornwell) 

luis in the auto collision shop classLuis studied in Automotive Collision for  both level I and II and was an outstanding student both years. His teacher had this to say about him, “Luis is very motivated and has the desire to learn everything pertaining to his trade.“  He won Student of the Quarter awards multiple times while in the Academy  Auto Collision program and he is the Automotive Collision Student of the Year for 2020 recognizing his senior year achievements in the field of collision services. Luis also won the top honor of Gold medal in the  district SkillsUSA competitions for Auto Collision Repair in 2020. He was headed to compete at the state level prior to the COVID –19 pandemic and we have no doubt with his talents and skills he would have gone on to the National competitions. Luis plans to join the Koons Automotive Group after graduation.  

Adwoa - Cosmetology I & II - Class of 2020 

Student of the Year for Cosmetology (Teacher - Mrs. Bayati)

photo of AdwoaIn the words of her teacher, Soussan Bayati, "Adwoa is a highly skilled and charismatic leader, with perfect attendance for the past two years.  She is dedicated, conscientious and has an all-around congenial personality. She demonstrates great empathy and serves as a role model for other students. Adwoa has worked diligently to improve her skills in Cosmetology. She will do well if she chooses Cosmetology as a profession.  She is able to establish rapport with other people which is a great asset in this profession.  She served as an (Academy) ambassador and she is a member of the National Technical Honor Society. AJ is always ready to help whenever necessary.  She adjusted remarkably well to Distance Learning and attended every session with all of her work completed.  I am very proud of AJ and her excellent performance in Cosmetology for the past two years.  I wish her every success in all of her endeavors."  

Adwoa was named Student of the Year for Cosmetology in 2020. 

Hope - Criminal Justice I - Class of 2022 

Student of the Year for Criminal Justice I (Teacher - Mr. Kayajanian)

Hope W school photoHope's success story was submitted by her Criminal Justice teacher, Mr. John Kayjanian. 

"I have had the pleasure of being Hope's Criminal Justice 1 teacher this year. S he has displayed the same level of maturity and work ethic as my best senior students throughout the school year. She goes above and beyond what is required when given a major project or a small current event assignment, and she is constantly striving to learn more about criminal justice. Hope also participates in class discussions and asks excellent questions which benefit the entire class. Hope currently has a strong GPA at Edison High School and she is clearly a dedicated student, but I was even more impressed with her work ethic outside the classroom. Hope is currently an Edison Academy Ambassador and she helped represent the Criminal Justice program at the Edison elective fair. She is also an active member of the Fairfax County Police Cadets and she participates in volunteer events like the Fairfax County Police holiday gift collection. Hope is a member of the student government at Edison High School, and she is currently running for the position of Vice President for her grade level. Not many students take advantage of extracurricular opportunities which will help them grow as a person and make connections for the future, but Hope does repeatedly." 

Hope was Mr. Kayajanian's Student of the Year from Criminal Justice I. We look forward to having Hope back to study in Criminal Justice II with us in 2020-2021 and we anticipate having some great things to add to her success story next year. 

Jamison - Criminal Justice I & II - Class of 2020

Student of the Year for Criminal Justice II (Teacher - Mr. Russell)

Jamison senior photoIn the words of Jamison's teacher Mr.Kevin Russell, "Jamie has been in the Criminal Justice program for two years.  It has been my pleasure to have Jamie in my class.  Jamie has displayed the highest level of dedication, commitment, and ethical standard I have seen in a high school student.  Jamie exudes positivity and always comes to class smiling and positive.  She is very active in the Edison community and extracurricular clubs and organizations.  Jamie is always willing to help others in class, including the teacher.  Intelligence is only one major factor in being successful but characteristics like integrity, compassion, empathy, and the willingness to be open minded and continue learning is just as important in one being successful.  It has been an honor to have had Jamie in the Criminal Justice Program these past couple of years.    Jamie has all the tools needed to be successful in post-secondary school and a career in Criminal Justice."

Congratulations to Jamison, the Criminal Justice level 2 Student of the Year.      

Aleiah - Culinary Arts I, II & III - Class of 2020

Student of the Year for Culinary Arts (Teacher - Chef Walden) 

Aleiah with her teacher at SkillsUSA state fair competitionsIn the words of her teacher, Chef Glenn Walden, "My Student of The Year is Aleiah Ali, our First Level 3 Culinary Arts student.  She is a hard-working student who is usually first to get in the kitchen and stays until ALL the work is done.  She is a ServSafe Certified Food Manager, academically strong, understands what it takes to run the kitchen, and always jumps in to help others who need a hand.  Aleiah earned the Second Place Ribbon for Cake Decorating at the 2019 SkillsUSA Virginia State Fair.  She organized a canned food drive and Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop for the community.  Aleiah earned 9 dual enrollment credits during her High School career and will attend NOVA Community College after graduation."  

Congratulations to Aleiah for all her hard work, accomplishments, and thank you also to her for her dedication to the Culinary Arts program here at Edison Academy. We are proud to have her represent as Culinary Arts Student of the Year for 2020. 

Waleed  - Cyber IT (Cyber:Oracle 1 & 2, Cyber:Computer Systems Technology 1, Cyber:Network Administration 1) - Class of 2020

A Student of the Year for Cyber: IT (Teacher - Ms Munir) 

photo of studentWaleed studied for both his Junior and Senior year in the Cyber IT classes at Edison Academy where he discovered, in his own words that, " I had found a solid area of interest as well as an area of strength." 

Waleed  completed Programming and Advanced Programming at his base high school in his freshman and sophomore years prior to coming to Edison Academy to continue his advanced IT studies with our instructors.. He excelled in all of those high school information technology classes, earning all A's, and earning multiple industry certifications. But, he truly found his passion in his database courses Oracle I & Oracle 2. Waleed participated in IT competitions for both the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Career and Technical Student Organization as well as the CyberPatriot competition program.He placed 2nd in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) regional competitions in 2020 for the Database Applications competition. Waleed also volunteered his time to help raise funds for CyberPatriot teams at the Academy as well as volunteering in his community. In the fall of 2020 he was chosen for a work based learning experience in a paid internship position with the local non-profit Computer Core. Waleed earned CTE "career focus" scholarships from two area Rotary Clubs because of his demonstrated career commitment.  Waleed will study Data Science in college to earn his four year degree. 

Waleed was named Student of the Year by his teacher,Ms Munir, in 2020. 

Andrew "AJ" - Cyber IT (Cyber Network Administration I and Cyber Computer Systems Technology I) - Class of 2021

A Student of the Year for Cyber: IT (Teacher - Mr. Kuesters)

photo of Andrew Andew "AJ" is a high school junior in the Cyber IT program at Edison Academy. AJ has earned six industry certifications thus far, more than any other IT student in the Cyber program in recent years.  In addition to his Academy studies in IT AJ also studied Computer Programming at his base high school in the 2019-2020 school year. He plans to take Cloud Computing courses in his senior year of high school..

In addition to AJ's industry certification accomplishments he has also earned a 1st place win in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Computer Applications contest. He is a two year member of the National Technical Honor Society, an Edison Academy Ambassador, and Student of the First Quarter and  Student of the Year for Mr. Kuester's IT classes. in June 2020 he was named as the only student member of the steering committee for the FCPS Superintendent's Technology Advisory Council.

AJ''s teacher had this to say about him, "AJ will no doubt pass more certifications as soon as we are able to test again. He is a go-to student and he is always willing to help."  

Congratulations to AJ for his earning the honor of Student of the Year for 2020 from his teacher, Mr. Kuesters.

Henry - Electrical Construction and Engineering I & II - Class of 2020

Student of the Year for Electrical Construction and Engineering (Teacher - Mr. Wolfe) 

Henry in the Electrical labHenry was a dedicated Electrical Construction and Engineering (ECE) student for both his Junior and Senior year of high school. He drove all the way from Falls Church to Edison to take part in class every day. He earned over 500 hours of on the job training towards his Apprenticeship this year working as a Youth Apprentice for the Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Facilities Management as well as for Wolfe Electrical Solutions. He has received job offers from two industry partners to the ECE program where he will be able to continue his apprenticeship training and begin his career after graduation.  Among Henry's other accomplishments he has taught over 20 hours of electrical skills to less experienced students as a team leader and he has earned every professional certification offered in the ECE program; Electrical Inspector, International Code Council (ICC), Electrical National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCR) . and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10 Hour certificate. Henry was Student of the Quarter multiple times during his two years in the ECE program and he is this year.s Student of the Quarter for Electrical Construction and Engineering. 

Congratulations to Henry we hope to hear more from him as he moves on to continue with his career in the electrical field! 

Zoey -Teachers for Tomorrow I - Class of 2020

Student of the Year for Teachers for Tomorrow (Teacher - Ms Ward) 

Zoey's photoZoey is a 2020 high school senior graduate who attended Edison Academy from South County High School.  Zoey graduated with a 3.9 GPA and was a part of South County High School’s National Honor Society.  Zoey was also named MVP and track team captain, and ran All-American, All-State, All-Region, and All-Conference track meets representing her high school each year. 

Zoey truly has a heart of gold and it always shone through when working with students during her internship at Irving Middle School.  She has such a caring disposition and positive mindset that is always felt by her peers and her Teachers for Tomorrow teacher as she assisted and participated in recruitment for this year’s Edison Electives Fair. 

This student volunteered at the Lorton Community Action Center, the Side-Out Foundation (Breast Cancer Awareness), Homeless Animals Rescue Center, the National Vulvodynia Association (Women’s Health Awareness) and countless other displays of giving her time for the betterment of the community and to help others.

Zoey is an advocate for helping children and will fulfill her passion and career goals as she enters her freshman year for a bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania State University.  She will be studying Psychology to gain experience in counseling and providing support to adolescents suffering from mental illness or psychological distress. Because of Zoey’s diligence to learn about the field of education, willingness and passion to help others; especially children, and her plans to continue her studies in education; she was named the 2020 Teachers for Tomorrow Student of the Year.

Austin - Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration I - Class of 2021

Student of the Year for Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Teacher - Mr. Stringham)

photo of Austin working in the HVAC-R labAustin came all the way from Mclean High School to study in the HVAC-R program with us this year and he jumped right in and took advantage of every opportunity that was offered to him. He was one of the most active SkillsUSA members in the Edsion Academy chapter this year. He attended SkillsUSA Day at the Virginia State Fair to represent the academy, participated in the National SkillsUSA Community Service Project at their headquarters whee he assisted with the building of a three tiered outdoor amphitheater and firepit with paved walkways, and he took part in the Leadership Training Course for SkillsUSA members earning his Stateman Pin from the SkillsUSA organization. He also computed in the SkillsUSA contest for Job Skills Demo in HVAC and placed in the top three in the competition.

In addition to his SkillsUSA involvement Austin was named Student of the Quarter by his HVAC-R teacher during the school year and was a very active Academy Ambassador, making multiple school visits to Elementary and Middle Schools for their Career Day events to represent the HVAC trade and Edison Academy. Austin was a great spokesperson for the HVAC-R program.

Although Austin will not be returning to Edison Academy to complete his HVAC-R education with us, we know that he will be a true leader and excel in whatever he pursues in his senior year his new home in Kansas with his family. As his teacher said in a recent video presentation, Austin is not just a good student, he is an "overall outstanding young man.". We will miss Austin but wish him well. 

Zachary - Veterinary Science I & II - Class of 2020

A Student of the Year for Veterinary Science (Teacher - Ms Nestlerode)

Zach at Furry FridayZachary "Zach" has been in Veterinary Science at Edison Academy for two years. In addition to his studies in Veterinary Science he has had work based learning experiences while working part-time for the Hybla Valley Veterinary Hospital. Zach has balanced his veterinary program studies and work life while also balancing academic demands and participating in high school sports.

Zach was nominated and chosen for membership in the National Technical Honor Society and has been a very helpful Academy Ambassador and teachers assistant in the Veterinary Science program.  Zack competed in the SkillsUSA contests held over the winter and earned a first place award for Job Skills Demo in Veterinary Science. He would have been headed to the Virginia state SkillsUSA contests to represent his northern Virginia district if the Coronavirus had not cancelled the state and  national contests for 2020.  Zack will be attending the University of Miami-Ohio in Oxford, Ohio this fall. 

Diamond - Veterinary Science I & II - Class of 2020

A Student of the Year for Veterinary Science (Teacher - Ms Nestlerode)

Diamond holding her Student of the Quarter awardDiamond has been an excellent student in the Veterinary Science program for two years. She has served as an excellent Academy Ambassador and student assistant to her teacher.  She has been a National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) member since her nomination and selection during her junior year. Diamond even won a Jon H. Poteat Scholarship from the NTHS and was chosen for the Academy Administrator's Award during her junior year. She has competed in the SkillsUSA contests for Veterinary Assistant and has been a very helpful ambassador for her program speaking to guests and visiting schools to promote Veterinary Science. Diamond is headed to Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) in the fall of 2020 where she plans to pursue general college studies that will enable her to transfer to the university of her choice and/or to continue with her Veterinary studies in the Veterinary Tech program at NVCC.  

Luke - Automotive Technology I, II, & III Dual Enrolled - Class of 2020 

Edison High School Senior Medal Award from the Edison Academy Department 

Student in Auto ShopLuke studied for three years in the Automotive Technology Program at Edison Academy. In 2019-2020 he pursued the college credit Dual Enrolled Automotive Technology class (AUT 100) which awards college credit through Northern Virginia Community College as well as high school Career and Technical Education credits. Luke has excelled in his class earning the honor of being named Student of the Quarter multiple times. in 2019-2020 Luke also took on the challenge of competing through the SkillsUSA national student leadership organization. Luke finished 1st in the district in his competition, Automotive Servicing, and he was headed to the State competitions before COVID-19. 

We celebrate Luke and his accomplishments here at Edison Academy!  

Katherine "Kate" - Veterinary Science I - Class of 2021

Edison Academy Administrator's Award

Kate talking to another student at a recruiting event.Kate is a first year student in the Veterinary Science program. She has jumped in to volunteer whenever needed as an Academy Ambassador helping greet visitors and promoting the Academy whenever possible. She is an excellent communicator who shows kindness and compassion to all around her. Kate is great with clients in the Veterinary Science grooming program both human and furry. We look forward to having Kate back as a level II student in Veterinary Science for 2020-21.  


Kevin - Electrical Construction & Engineering 1,2, & 3 -Class of 2020

David, Henry, and Victor - Electrical Construction & Engineering 1 & 2 - Class of 2020

Kevin, David, Henry and VictorThese young men all participated in the Electrical Construction and Engineering Program where they earned mutliple industry certifications. They gained real work experience at the Foundation for Applied Technical Education residential construction site as well as classroom and lab learning at school. Several of these students participated in paid internships or a youth apprenticeship opportunity while in high school and competed at the local level or higher with the SkillsUSA student organization.  As of May 18, 2020 all four of these young men had received at least one employment offer to begin their career and OJT training to become professional journeyman electricians after high school graduation. 

Alumni with Student Success Stories

Gabriel Chapman - Automotive Technology I, II, & III Dual Enrolled - Class of 2018

Gabe with school busGabriel Chapman took part in the Automotive Technology program for three years and earned college credits for his work in his third year through dual enrollment with Northern Virginia Community College.  Gabriel was first offered an opportunity to work with the Fairfax County Government Department of Vehicle Services (DVS). as an intern for a fall internship in 2017. He was invited to continue his internship that spring of 2018 and also over the summer after graduation. Gabe was offered a full-time position in January of 2019 where he works on light, medium and heavy duty equipment as a mechanic. He Inspects, diagnoses, and repairs light, medium, and heavy duty equipmen including defective parts in engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, hydraulic, HVAC, and electrical systems.  He performs preventive maintenance including changing oil, filters, lubricating the drivetrain and body, inspecting fluid levels and condition, and noting any issues observed. He records the work performed and diagnostic test results in an online database. He work in teams to perform large repairs and  attends regular training program classes to further his knowledge in safety, heavy equipment, hydraulics, air brakes, and other smaller equipment. He is sometimes even called on to perform emergency roadside repairs.

Tim Dove - Automotive Technology I, II, & III Dual Enrolled - Class of 2018

Photo of T DoveTim Dove took part in the Automotive Technology program for three years and earned college credits for his work in his third year through dual enrollment with Northern Virginia Community College.  During high school Tim held various part-time jobs to gain work experience and to develop his work ethic. During his Senior year he was offered an internship with the Fairfax County Government Department of Vehicle Services where he had the opportunity to work on large vehicles and diesel engines.  Tim was given the opportunity to join the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) full time after graduating from high school.  As of 2020 he has been with DVS for three years. 

Nicole Cabral - Culinary Arts I & II - Class of 2014 

Photo of Nicole at workNicole studied in Culinary Arts at Edison Academy for two years. She earned recognition from her teacher multiple times as Student of the Quarter and Student of the Year. She competed in SkillsUSA both years of her studies in Culinary Arts and won Gold medals (the top award) at the District levels for both 2013 and 2014. She also won Bronze in 2013 and Silver in 2014 at the State level competitions. Nicole was a member of the National Technical Honor Society and distinguished herself as an Academy Ambassador representing the Academy at various functions in the community. Nicole served as a guest panelist for an Alumni panel while studying at the Culinary Institute of America. As of 2020 Nicole is a Pastry Sous Chef at Michelin starred restaurant Fiola located in downtown DC.  She started as a line cook and within a year was promoted.  In her work she supervises all of the pastry production, staff, ordering, inventory, and all other daily operations. She also works consulting with other restaurants of the company alongside the Corporate Pastry Chef Claudia Barrovecchio. Through this job she has extended her management and pastry skills,  and has been fortunate enough to meet acclaimed guests, create memorable experiences, participated in private dinners and prestigious events such as the Jean-Louis Palladin Anniversary, the award ceremony of the DC Michelin Guide and many other especial events. She has had the honor of working alongside some of the best chefs in the country including Fabio Trabocchi, Melissa Rodriguez, Adam Leonti, and others. Nicole states, "Truly my time at Fiola has been a career changing experience that has a allowed me to discover a lot of potential and different areas within the Hospitality Industry that I never thought I would have." 

Sebastijan Babic, Electrical Construction & Engineering Program- Class of 2008

photo of S Babic

Sebastijan studied in the Electrical Construction & Engineering Program in high school and participated in two paid internships while in high school doing residential electrical work. Upon Graduation Sebastijan was employed with MC Dean, Inc. as an electrical apprentice. He has received multiple promotions  with MC Dean allowing him to advance in his career from Apprentice to Journeyman, and Foreman. As of 2020 he is a Superintendent coordinating and managing teams of electricians and training apprentices.  Sebastijan enjoys travel and new adventures and appreciates that his work allows him to travel and work for MC Dean all around the world. 

Joanna Collins - Cyber: Network Administration I & II, Cyber: Computer Systems Technology I & II - Class of 2008 

photo of JoannaJoanna studied in the Cyber program at Edison Academy and was a very active member of the SkillsUSA student organization. She won a district medal for Website Development and 2nd place in Web Design at the state competitions while in high school. She also served as the SkillsUSA local Chapter President during her senior year, 2007-2008. Joanna went on to study at Northern Virginia Community College and transferred to George Mason University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security. Joanna changed careers a number of times which helped her to reinvent herself and find her passion. Although she did not end up in and IT career or a career in the Criminal Justice field, the classes and knowledge she gained from those programs helped her immensely along the way throughout all the paths her career has taken her in. As of 2020, Joanna has worked for two years as a recruiter with a Government solutions firm, Magnum Management. She says, " A lot of my work is sourcing and recruiting which involves a lot of searches in resume databases, deep diving into the internet with keywords, and using AND/OR/IF statements"  to find candidates. Joanna credits her It classes at Edison Academy for preparing her for the real world and her future success. 

Patrick Sollers - Heating, Air-Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration - Class of 2008

photo of P Sollers Patrick Sollers studied in the HVAC &Refrigeration Program at Edison Academy for two years. Upon graduation he joined Pro-Air Mechanical Contractors as an apprentice. As an apprentice he was encouraged to join the plumbing side of the company's work because the pay was higher for plumbers. Upon completion of the apprenticeship Patrick became a journeyman.  In his work, Patrick installs, maintains, and repairs pipes and fixtures associated with heating, cooling, water distribution, and sanitation systems in residential and commercial structures. He fixes domestic appliances, such as dishwashers and gas cookers, and he inspects drainage and other plumbing systems for compliance with local and national regulations. in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic he worked on company contracts with hospitals to provide airborne infection controls in HVAC systems to help mitigate the spread of the virus.