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DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs

2004 Teacher of the Year

TORII STATION, OKINAWA , JAPAN — October 29, 2004 — Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), is pleased to announce Irene Dugdale Lee as the Teacher of the Year. Dr. Joseph Tafoya, director, DoDEA stated, “We’re very proud of Ms. Lee and her accomplishments,” she creates a dynamic environment that fosters enthusiasm and growth in our young musicians.”

Lee, a 32-year education veteran, is a music teacher at Seoul American High School, Yongson, South Korea. Lee hails from De Smet, South Dakota, hometown of Laura Ingalls’ of the “Little Town on the Prairie” and credits her small town upbringing and large family for many of her current work habits in the classroom.

"We are pleased to join DoDDS-Pacific/DDESS-Guam teachers, students and parents in celebrating Irene's accomplishments. She is such a fine teacher who can work magic with students. Her selection as DoDEA's Teacher of the Year underscores her contribution to music education and her commitment to the children of military families. Irene's dedication to the arts and to her students serves as an inspiration to all of us," explained, Dr. Nancy Bresell, director for DoDDS-Pacific/DDESS-Guam.

Lee is the Faculty Representative of the Teacher Education Association of Korea (TEAK) since 2000, a member of Phi Delta Kappa (of which she was Educator of the Year in 2002), member of the Music Educators National Conference, and has been recognized as a multiple years honoree in Who’s Who Among American Teachers. Lee has also received a Special Recognition Mayoral Award from the Mayor of Seoul in South Korea. Lee has served on many music task forces in DoDDS-Pacific/DDESS-Guam and mentored other DoDDS music teachers.

Lee traces her interest in being a music teacher back to her aunt who taught voice. That inspiration carried through to Irene’s career in South Korea, both at the DoDDS schools and in the local communities. Lee constantly arranges opportunities for her students to interact with Korean schools and musicians, and was instrumental in establishing the Korean American Youth Symphony Orchestra.

During her 32 years of teaching, Lee has developed a strong belief in the importance of arts education. "I believe every student entering my classroom has the potential to be a virtuoso and deserves the opportunity to develop his or her musical talents.”