2001 Teachers of the Year

2001 winner - Millie Harris

Millie Harris

Fort Benning Dependent Schools

Millie Harris, of Stowers Elementary at Fort Benning, Georgia, has been teaching for 22 years, 19 of which were with the Department of Defense. She taught at Fort McClellan Elementary School until the based closed in May of 1999, when she accepted her current position at Fort Benning. She received her Masters Degree and Educational Specialist Degree from the University of Alabama in Special Education, Talented and Gifted Concentration. She was named Most Outstanding Student, Talented and Gifted on Honors Day at the University of Alabama in April of 1995.

In April of 1994 she was included in the National Science and Technology Honor Roll of Teachers, which was awarded to one teacher in each of 50 states. She was a National Writing Project Fellow at Jacksonville State University during the summer of 1998 and currently serves on the Writing Project Advisory Board. She wrote a grant proposal in which DDESS funded integration of Anniston Museum of Natural History's resources with the Fort McClellan Elementary School's program. While at Fort McClellan Mrs. Harris served as School Improvement Chair and Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation Chair. She has led teacher inservice training on gifted identification, self-esteem, multiple intelligences, school improvement, critical thinking and Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as applied to teaching.

Mrs. Harris has published professional teacher articles on multiple intelligences in the arts, Leonardo da Vinci, endangered species, ornithology and ancient Greece. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Anniston Community Theatre, as President of the Calhoun County Council for Exceptional Children, as President of the Fort McClellan Education Association, on the Anniston Museum of Natural History Education Advisory Board, the State of Alabama Gifted Education Advisory Board and has volunteered for the Knox Concert Series, the Calhoun County Humane Society, the March of Dimes, The First United Methodist Church, the Women's Political Caucus, and the American Cancer Society. Mrs. Harris is married to Braxton Harris of Anniston, Alabama and has two children, Braxton Harris, Jr. of Birmingham, Alabama and Melissa Harris Dye of Potomac, Maryland.

"Teaching is all about attitudes, principles, and priorities. Good teachers take the initiative to do whatever it takes, consistent with the right principles, to get the job done. Change needs to come from the belief that our actions are a result of our own conscious choices, based on child-centered values."


Americas Area District

2001 PeggyAndersonPeggy O'Neal Anderson
Fort Stewart School System

Peggy Anderson, of Diamond Elementary School, Fort Stewart, Georgia, has been teaching elementary school children for 25 years. Sixteen of those years have been with the Department of Defense. Her experience includes work with second, third, and fourth graders in regular education and with gifted children in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Currently, she is the coordinator for gifted education and school wide enrichment for Diamond Elementary School.

Ms. Anderson earned a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and an educational specialist degree from Georgia Southern University. She has served as an evening graduate instructor for Brewton Parker College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, and Savannah State University. In addition, she helped develop the early childhood daycare curriculum at Southeastern Technical College. She is an active member of several professional organizations including Association of Curriculum and Supervision, Georgia Association of Gifted Children, and Phi Delta Kappa International. Ms. Anderson is also involved with annual Red Cross Blood Drives, Relay for Life Cancer Drives, and the Glennville Sweet Onion Festivals. Her leadership positions include Director of the Fort Stewart Children's Theatre and the Director of the Diamond Elementary Performers.

At school, she serves as a benchmark co-chair for school-home partnerships, and works with the DODEA task force for gifted education. In efforts to serve parents, she is a group leader for the annual Parent Academy for Fort Stewart Schools. She has been trained in gifted identification and testing, multiple intelligences, and methods of improving study skills. Finally, Ms. Anderson has participated in extensive technology training and leads the school in technology integration.

Ms. Anderson has two children, Neal and Gena, and one grandchild, Hanna. She lives in Glennville, Georgia.

"I believe that every student is capable of learning and should be provided an opportunity to learn through a variety of teaching styles. Maintaining high expectations for all children and providing them with opportunities to succeed are two important objectives I strive to master."


2001 Kathy Moore BeardenKathy Moore Bearden
Fort Campbell Dependents Schools

"I believe that the best teachers are those who address all learners as individuals. It is imperative that teachers know the learning styles of their students. In order to be successful as educators, we must find the strategies that work best for each child and build upon them."




Jane Boyd-HamiltonJane Boyd-Hamilton
Robins Air Force Base School System

"My task as an educator is to teach life skills through critical thinking. I believe that all children can contribute to the quality of their lives and the lives of others if given a chance."





Betty A. GarrenBetty A. Garren
South Carolina DDESS

As a school-wide enrichment teacher, Betty believes that creativity and imagination in young children must be developed and nurtured. Throughout her teaching career, Betty's most rewarding contribution has been her ability to find talent in every student and celebrate that talent by allowing each child to experience success. Betty's diverse teaching career includes experience in the classroom and in talented and gifted programs in grades pre-K through 9 in several states as well as in DoDDS Europe. She also teaches in graduate and undergraduate programs at the university level. A teacher for 25 years, Betty received her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina.

"Today's classroom is a turbulent setting of diverse personalities, experiences, interest, talent, and cultures. Teachers must celebrate diversity within the classroom and create opportunities that allow every child to feel successful."


Mary Ann HardeeMary Ann Harde
Fort Bragg Dependent Schools

Though born in North Carolina, I grew up in Peru and India. The world was my classroom in a unique way. I became acutely aware of the wonders each culture has to share pieces of a puzzle that make up our world. I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers at home and in school.

In high school I volunteered my time to work with the young people at Mother Teresa's Home for Unwanted Children in Old Delhi, India. The children were sponges for affection and knowledge. Watching self-confidence grow as skills were developed was so exciting. The pathway to a career in education was a natural one. I have taught eighteen years. I assisted in special education programs and taught first grade, second grade, gifted education and technology.

I am always setting new goals and exploring new avenues. Not a day goes by when I do not grow by combining my past experience with what I am learning in my present position as an educational technologist. I take every opportunity to share my enthusiasm for learning with my students.

"As facilitators, teachers need to remember that schools are an important component of society, not a separate entity. Everyone has a stake in education. By soliciting the interest and involvement of parents and the community, our schools can provide a much more solid education for our young people."


Mary Elizabeth HetterMary Elizabeth Hetter
Camp Lejeune Dependent Schools

Reaching back to my earliest thoughts about becoming a teacher, I would say that the influence of my mother and inspiration of many wonderful instructors are what caused me to initially think about and later pursue a teaching career. They instilled in me a love for learning and a commitment to the value of lifelong learning that have been the driving forces in my own teaching career.

Both of my parents valued education greatly and instilled this in me as well. My mother, in particular, guided me in the direction of teaching by her own example as she taught me things at home from the time I was a very small child. Once I entered school my mother ensured that I developed a sense of responsibility for my own work and assignments and helped build my self-esteem through encouragement and caring. Of equal importance, she also taught by example a great respect for the teachers providing me with my education.

As I went through school, I had many wonderful instructors who had a great influence on my life and career decision. They provided an example and inspiration that no words could match and generated in me a motivation for learning that caused me to seriously think about wanting to do the same for others. I admired the dedication and knowledge held by these teachers, as well as the manner in which they were able to convey the material to students. I hoped to someday be able to do the same.

Once I entered the teaching profession, I continued to grow and learn as I looked for resources and models of teaching excellence provided by outstanding peers. Early in my career, my attention was particularly captured by a peer who seemed to be able to generate a great amount of respect, diligence and motivation from her students. Watching her closely caused me to analyze my own ideas and methods and refine them to the level of teaching that I so wanted to reach.

I bring to the profession a style of teaching that combines knowledge, caring, commitment, high expectations, acceptance of individual differences and an honest belief in the abilities of students. My own excitement for what I do challenges me to seek out the best methods and activities to meet the individual needs of my students. I regularly evaluate my effectiveness through self-evaluation, student achievement and both parental and peer feedback. I am aware that my teaching must adjust as needed to reflect the differing needs of students and research findings about education.

I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment when I see my students utilize a skill that they previously couldn't; see them get so excited about a topic that they come in the next day with an armful of library books they've found because their interest was piqued; have parents come in and tell me that their child went home and talked to them about the unit we were involved in; or get a "high five" from a student who has finally caught on to a concept, happily announcing, "Now I've got it! This is fun!" Then I know that I have made a difference in the lives of children.

Children need to realize that learning can be fun and exciting and each should feel important, worthwhile and successful. When children leave my class they take with them knowledge and memories that should make them want to continue learning throughout their lives.

I have made a difference when I have done everything in my power for every student within my care to educate them and instill in them a love of learning. My contribution to education is and will continue to be my absolute determination and commitment to lifelong learning.

"One of my greatest responsibilities as an educator is to prepare students for the roles they will play in the future by helping them develop their own unique talents and abilities. We must provide students with the skills and tools for obtaining knowledge they will use throughout their life."


Amy M. Kostelnik-InsleyAmy M. Kostelnik-Insley
Fort Knox Community Schools

My desire to teach began when I was a sixth grader. I read to a first grade class and knew I was meant to be a teacher. I pursued this interest through high school by getting involved in church camps, being a teen advisor to 5th graders, and with a career internship program working in the Ft. Knox schools.

I then attended Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. I was recruited by Frederick, MD schools after graduation and began my career teaching 2nd grade. I relocated and began teaching with Baltimore County Schools where I taught 1st grade for 7 years at Cedarmere Elementary in Reisterstown.

During this time, I was recognized with a Chamber of Commerce Award of Excellence and as a semi-finalist for Baltimore County Teacher of the Year. I also wrote science and social studies curriculum, supervised student teachers, and presented professional development activities.

I am currently teaching at Pierce Primary School at Ft. Knox, Ky. I am part of a looping program where I teach 2nd grade and will then take my class to 3rd. I have worked on reading curriculum and a peer coaching team. I have presented professional development in reading/language arts.

I am excited to be representing Ft. Knox in the TOY program and hope to use this opportunity to spotlight the many outstanding things happening in our schools! I hope we can build a bridge between the schools and the community.

"Just as mentors have helped me, I feel it is important to share my talents and my ideas with co-workers so they, too, can achieve success with their students. Learning to work together is just as important for adults as it is for children."


James PearsonJames Pearson
Virginia DDESS

Jim Pearson, of Quantico Middle/High School at Quantico Marine Corps base in Virginia, has been teaching for 15 years, all of which have been with DoDEA. Jim is the son of a naval officer and as a child attended a DoDEA school. After receiving a Bachelors of Science in History and Social Sciences from James Madison University, Jim accepted a position at Quantico. For the next 12 years Jim taught a variety of Social Studies courses in grades 7 through 12.

In May of 2000, Mr. Pearson earned his Masters Degree from George Mason University in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Integrating Technology. Jim has also taken a variety of other technology related courses from the University of Virginia. In 1997 Jim was selected as one of Quantico's representatives at DoDEA's Presidential Technology Initiative in Aviano, Italy. It was at this time that Jim caught the "technology bug." Later that year Jim applied to fill the vacant Education Technologist position at Quantico Middle/High School.

Jim has served as his school's ET since and in this position he has led teacher training on using existing and emerging technologies as ways of easing administrative task and more importantly enhancing the learning experience of students. Mr. Pearson is a firm believer in the constructivist approach and the important role technology plays in this philosophy.

Mr. Pearson currently lives in Prince William County near Washington, D.C. He is married to Sheila Pearson, a DoDEA teacher at Quantico, and has two daughters, Emily and Rachel. When away from the computer, Jim's interests include reading history and many outdoor activities from birding to fishing. Jim and his family enjoy traveling, but he maintains that his experiences as a DOD child make him determined to keep Virginia as his permanent home.

"I believe teachers need to relinquish the traditional role of "information giver" and take on the roles of assistant, guide, and evaluator. My job in the classroom is to provide the opportunities and information, through activities, that will assist students in creating their own knowledge."


Helen L. WallHelen L. Wall
Alabama DDESS

"In order for the learning process to take place, a teacher must provide a safe environment. The classroom must be a setting where children feel free to take chances, to be wrong and try again. Teachers must consider learning as a journey, not the acquisition of a set of facts."




European Area District

Debora IngersollDebora Ingersoll
Italy District

"In today's rapidly changing, technology driven world, teachers are faced with various challenges to assure students will be prepared both academically and socially for the future. Students need to be challenged to reach their fullest learning potential while considering their individual skills and needs."




Debra KnudsenDebra Knudsen
Hessen District

Debra Knudsen, the Hessen Teacher of the Year, is a DoDEA educator, teaching at Hanau American Middle School, Hanau, Germany. She is a Language Arts teacher, as well as a teacher of "at-risk" students. Debra has been teaching with the DoDDS schools for 24 years.

She began her teaching career in Akron, Iowa, and then went to Darmstadt, Germany in 1976 with her husband who is also an educator. They have also taught and worked in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Augsburg, Germany. Debra received her doctorate in education in 1985. She was a finalist for PDK's Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, and won the NCTE Richard Mead Award for outstanding research in language arts and teacher education. She is a teacher consultant and Co-Director of the Germany Writing Project.

Throughout her years in education, she has been an advocate for students, serving on editorial boards, working with writing festivals and symposiums, Author's Clubs, Homework clubs, SIP committees, PTSA, SAC, and Booster Clubs. She is a teacher who loves her job, and believes that teaching is the greatest of all callings. As she prepares lessons, interacts with parents, students, and colleagues, she models her conviction that teachers need to be committed, dedicated, and determined to make a difference in the lives of students, and in turn, the nation, and entire world. Each day in the classroom she is the catalyst for tremendous learning for her students!

"I believe teaching is one of the greatest of all callings and I do believe it has to be a calling in order for one to be an outstanding educator. I believe I make a difference each and every day for each and every student. I mix high expectations for all students with respect for all."


Jennifer L'EsperanceJennifer L'Esperance
Heidelberg District

"I believe for learning to be effective and long lasting I must motivate the students and involve them emotionally in the learning process. My role as a teacher is to create an educational environment in which the student experiences excitement, motivation, and challenge. Students are more likely to remember and make use of their knowledge if this environment exists."




Hope MatthewsHope Matthews
Brussels District

"Teaching music is the greatest job on earth! To be a good teacher requires hard work, dedication, knowledge, experimentation, patience, stimulation and problem solving skills. A teacher can make a difference in the lives of students through teamwork, character building, and providing a sense of belonging."




Eric MeasellsEric Measells
United Kingdom District

"The term "high expectations" applies to students, administrators, and teachers. Teachers must constantly examine and implement the latest research on teaching and learning. We must have the highest expectations for students. We must have high expectations for administrators to support programs, teaching, and learning."




Paula PiercePaula Pierce
Turkey/Spain/Islands District

Paula Pierce was honored to be selected as the Turkey/Spain/Islands District Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001. Paula has been teaching third grade at Lajes Elementary in the Azores of Portugal for the past 5 years. Before she came to Lajes, Paula and her husband, Richard, taught in Bahrain, another T/S/I school, for 6 years. Richard is currently the ET for the Lajes Schools Complex. Paula has taught in DoDDS for the past 10 years.

Before joining DoDDS in 1990, she taught in Memphis, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Nevada, Blytheville, Arkansas, and Osceola, Arkansas. She has been both a regular classroom teacher, a teacher in a multi-age classroom, and a remedial reading specialist. Being the mother of two daughters, Tori and Megan, who have grown up in the DoDDS system, Paula is well aware of how the high expectations of a positive teacher can mold a child's school experience. She feels strongly that teachers have a powerful impact on children everyday and that impact should not only be caring and supportive but should provide opportunities for children to meet their potential.

"I believe that all children have the right to have a teacher who will look for their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. Each student has the right to be valued at whatever level they are able to work. As a teacher, I have the important responsibility to make that happen for every child every day."


Deborah RothDeborah Roth
Wuerzburg District

Becoming a teacher was a very natural choice for Deborah. She loves working with children and has had many positive experiences, even before she became a teacher. Since beginning her teaching career twenty-two years ago, she has participated in Special Olympics and instructed swimming classes for children and adults, including the disabled. Additionally, she volunteered as a tutor in a hospital which provided a service to mentally challenged young adults, some of whom had Downs Syndrome.

The last fourteen years of her teaching career have been at Bamberg Elementary School, Warner Barracks, Germany. She is currently teaching 2nd/3rd multi-aged class. She believes that her greatest contribution to education is her commitment to teaching her students to be "giraffes" who "stick their necks out" for their fellow human beings. She is willing to make the extra effort in reaching out to children and guide them along the way to success. Each child is accepted and valued for whatever strenghts he or she may have to offer, whether those strengths are academic, physical, emotional or social. In her class, each student learns to recognize his or her own innate worth, encouraged and supported by the entire class.

Deborah completed her Bachelors Degree in Special Education/Psychology at Central Michigan University. She earned her Masters in Education at Saginaw Valley Univiersity. Along with being selected Teacher of the Year, Deborah has also been awarded Certificate of Recognition 82nd Engineer Battalion Task Force Falcon, Kosovo, DoDDs Certificate of Exceptional Performance and Logical Task Force 201 Certificate of Achievement.

"I believe the essence of education is the development, nurturing and growth of each student. Paramount in my philosophy is the consistent combination of purposeful work, a sage environment that encourages inquiry and innovation, and an emphasis on humanitarian responsibility in every endeavor."


Joan ThomasJoan Thomas
Kaisersalutern District

"I believe that learning is a life-long discovery process. As a teacher, I feel a responsibility to stimulate my students' natural curiosity. The challenges of guiding each of my students along the paths of discovery make teaching an extremely rewarding, exciting profession."




Julie D. WallaceJulie D. Wallace Antille
Consolidated School System

"Teaching for me focuses on two major concepts. The first concept is whatever students learn in school should be usable, related to real life, and practiced. The second concept is students must develop and maintain tolerance and civility toward others and focus on a positive attitude toward learning."




Pacific Area District

Randi SkelleyRandi Skelley
Japan District

"It is my belief that all children can learn when given an environment in which unique qualities and abilities are encouraged. I believe children need to learn to work together in a cooperative and productive manner, respecting each other's similarities and differences. My duty as a teacher is to facilitate those beliefs by guiding and encouraging my students."




Fumi MarquezFumi Marquez
Guam Schools

Fumi Marquez received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego (1988) and her M.Ed. from Auburn University at Montgomery (1992). She moved to Guam in 1997; the same year the DDESS Guam District was organized. She teaches first grade at Andersen Elementary School on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. She is married and has three children. Mrs. Marquez enjoys teaching first grade because "it is an opportunity to spark young children's interest in learning and help parents develop teaching skills as well."

"In order for the teaching process to be successful and effective, a triad between teachers, students, and parents must exist. All parties must be involved in the education of children. The learning that takes place in the classroom should always be extended to the home."


Bill DouglasBill Douglas
Korea District

Bill is proud of his 35 years as a veteran teacher in the DoDDS School System. He graduated from Central Missouri State University with an MA in Business Administration in 1964. He taught in the Raytown, Missouri School system for two years prior to coming into the DoDDS Program. Bill has taught in DoDDS schools in Naples, Italy, Lakenheath, England, Munich, Darmstadt, and Bonn, Germany, and is currently teaching in Taegu, Korea, where he represents the Korea District as Teacher of the Year. He and his wife, Susan, have two grown children who attended all twelve (plus kindergarten) years in the DoDDS system. Included in the following list are some of his educational accomplishments:

Represented Korea/Pacific on the School-To-Careers Task Force, a new DoDEA initiative, Arlington, VA, May, 2000. Participated in writing the vision, mission, and guiding principals statements for this new initiative. Served on a prior School-to-Career Committee in Germany.

Co-SIP Coordinator and co-host of the NCA Team visit to our school, 1999-2000. This involved year-long planning and chairing of staff development meetings, preparing and mailing school information packets to NCA members and preparation and delivery of a Power Point Presentation to the NCA team and administration.

Coordinator of three DoDDS Business Education Curriculum Task Force Meetings (Summer 1998 - Leesburg, VA, Fall 1998 - Okinawa, Japan, and Summer 1999 - Leesburg, VA). This involved assignment of courses and coordinating work schedules of other DoDDS business educators in preparation for writing DoDDS Business Objectives and LAPS.

Received Exceptional Performance Teacher Ratings, consecutively, for the past 17 years (1983 through 2000) from five different principals in two different schools.

Prior to this year, awarded District Teacher of the Year two years, consecutively, in 1989-90, and 1990-91, in the North Germany District.

Participated in the last three DoDEA Business Education Curriculum Review Committees.

Served on the original DoDDS (formerly USDESEA) task force that planned and wrote the concept for the individualized DoDDS Business Lab Program. As part of that team, traveled to Germany, England, and Spain to present this new concept to DoDDS Business Educators.

Chaired the successful Department of Education Secondary Schools Recognition Program in Bonn, Germany. Planned and supervised the writing of materials in conjunction with this award and coordinated the Department of Education inspection team visit.

Served as a recruiter for DoDDS at two National Business Association meetings in Chicago, IL, and Reno, NV, in two consecutive years. Assisted DoDEA Washington staff members at the DoDEA booth at both conferences in answering questions of prospective educators.

Served as an original member of the DoDDS SCANS Team at Ohio State University.

Served as a team member on the DoDDS Germany Curriculum Alignment Committee. Produced a video on Curriculum Alignment, and traveled to all schools in North Germany presenting this initiative to faculty/staff of each school and to the North Germany Administrator's Conference.

Published an article in Business Education World, McGraw Hill Publishing Company, concerning operation of our student-run corporation called "International Bazaar" (an import/export company) at the Darmstadt Career Center, Germany. This was a "spin-off expanded creation" of the original McGraw Lester Hill Corporation Student Simulation.

Served as a member of an NCA Team reviewing Munich American HS, Germany.

"Education is an ongoing process and there are many kinds of teachers in addition to the formally trained ones. We learn from everyone around us and from our experiences. I learn a great deal from my own students every day and incorporate this concept in my teaching."


Janis WootenJanis Wooten
Okinawa District

"I view teaching as the "Great Adventure". It is an adventure not only for me, but for my students as well. Education is an adventure that every child should be privileged to experience and enjoy. My role as a teacher is to help each child make the most of the opportunities education offers."