The Virginia Association for Driver Education and Traffic Safety has named Wakefield High School’s Tony Bentley the Behind the Wheel Teacher of the Year.
The announcement was made at the state meeting, held online on Oct. 1, which featured 140 driver-education teachers and representatives from the Virginia Department of Education.
Bentley was nominated for his dedication to students, and for how he made sure they remained engaged when in-person classes were paused.
“Mr. Bentley recognizes how important it is for a teen to be able to drive and drive safely. He always explains that this privilege opens independence, freedom and many opportunities that need to be respected,” said Debbie DeFranco, supervisor of health and physical education for Arlington Public Schools.
“Mr. Bentley not only teaches safety behind the wheel, but also important life lessons,” DeFranco said.
Parents said they are appreciative of the time he spends with students.
“Mr. Bentley is a mentor, and my son as a driving student was enthusiastic about each driving session,” one parent said.
“I hold Mr. Bentley in high regard,” the parent said. “He represents the very best of what an educator should be. He doesn’t just ‘punch the clock’ – he cares about the community of students he serves. Mr. Bentley is the benchmark for professionalism and experience.”
Bentley, who also serves as head coach of the Wakefield High School varsity boys basketball team, will receive admission and a free hotel stay at next year’s meeting of the Virginia Association for Driver Education and Traffic Safety, which provides professional development to driving instructors.