2011 Teacher of the Year

Angelica L. Jordan
Heidelberg District

Ms. Jordan has 15 years of teaching experience. She has been teaching Partial Spanish Immersion and Spanish FLES to 2nd and 3rd grade students at Mannheim Elementary School in Germany for the past six years. Prior to her assignment with DoDEA, Ms. Jordan taught for eight years at Countryside Elementary School in Edina, Minn. Ms. Jordan is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and earned her Masters of Arts in Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

Ms. Jordan believes that effective teachers spend time building relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. "When I know a student's likes, dislikes, and interests, I can differentiate lessons," she said. By building an open and honest relationship with parents, I become a partner in education with the family. Building strong relationships with fellow colleagues and administrators allows us to plan together and share ideas so we can take advantage of each other's strengths. I believe the relationships I've fostered have enhanced my teaching and raised student achievement at Mannheim Elementary School."

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I began my teaching career in Minnesota and I worked with at-risk students there.

And I loved teaching in regular public schools.

And in 2002 my mother passed away and when she did I realized that I had now a connection to military students.

Typically because military students are facing multiple deployments with their parents and they might also lose a parent.

And I started thinking about at-risk students and how I might make a difference in the life of a military child.

And it was at that point that I realize that I not just had a calling for teaching, but a passion for helping students who were really in need.

Our military students are war weary.

They've been through multiple deployments year after year after year and a lot of times they have a single parent at home.

And as a military teacher, sometimes I'm it for those kids.

And I know they're going to come to my classroom and I'm going to love them and respect them and care for them and really help them be not just an academic student, but a whole person and really help them grow and learn to love learning.

And I do hope that my passion for teaching will ignite a fire in them to become lifelong learners.

Americas Area District

Kathy Henley
Georgia/Alabama District

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Ms. Henley teaches Chinese to middle school students at Faith Middle School, located at Ft. Benning, Ga. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Henley was self-employed and involved in training Chinese instructors at the Morningside Chinese School in Columbus, Ga. Ms. Henley also established Chinese language programs in local high schools in the Columbus area and started two Chinese language programs at Columbus State University. She is a graduate of Christ's College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.

Ms. Henley firmly believes in the philosophy of positive expectations, with every student having the potential to shine. One of her 8th grade students writes, "Ms. Henley makes this (Chinese) class enjoyable for everyone. In Chinese I we have the students from the All 'A' Honor roll to the ones that may need the extra boost. Everyone in that class excels."

Another 8th grade student writes, "Because of all Ms. Henley's hard work and effort she has been putting into teaching Faith Middle School students about the Chinese language and culture, I will be attending Columbus High School's Chinese 2 program instead of going into Chinese 1 as a freshman. Without her, none of this would have been possible. She loves her job and I owe it all to her."

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To Chinese, teacher is the best position you can have in your lifetime.

Especially for me, an immigrant can teach the military kids is even more special because I can contribute to the country and love and educate these children at the same time.

So it's my honor to be able to teach in the DoDEA system.

Jan Selvitelle
Kentucky District

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Ms. Selvitelle has 20 years of teaching experience, eight of which have been at Scott Middle School at Fort Knox, Ky., where she teaches English. Ms. Selvitelle has also taught English to Kentucky middle and high school students in Elizabethtown and Hodgenville. She received her Bachelor's and Master's of Arts degrees from Western Kentucky University.

"Outstanding teachers must embrace and model the characteristics of a good leader," says Ms. Selvitelle, about her philosophy of teaching. "A teacher must be a good leader - of students, parents, and colleagues - one who inspires loyalty and thinks carefully before making decisions. Having made a decision, however, a good teacher has the courage to stick to a decision that may be unpopular and, in response to new information, has the courage to reconsider or change directions if necessary."

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 Teaching brings out the best in me I think.

I think I'm at my most patient and my most energetic when I'm in the classroom.

And our military children truly understand the price of freedom because they're paying it.

Just like their parents they have to find courage in many quiet ways.

And so the journey I take with them each year is filled with challenges and unique obstacles.

But they deserve my best and they deserve every opportunity to excel and so it's definitely a journey worth taking.

Deborah Hudson Bailey
North Carolina District

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Ms. Bailey has 25 years of teaching experience, 13 of which have been in DoDEA Schools at Fort Bragg, N.C. Since 1997, she has taught 7th grade social studies at Albritton Junior High, 4th grade at McNair Elementary School, 7th-9th grades at Albritton Junior High, and 3rd grade at Murray Elementary School, all on Fort Bragg. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Bailey taught 3rd and 4th grade students in Fayetteville and Hope Mills, N.C. She is a graduate of Fayetteville State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Intermediate Education, and was awarded a Master of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Ms. Bailey's teaching philosophy is based on her belief that the teacher sets the tone for the classroom. "I believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to be a positive role model in everything that he or she does," she said. "The teacher should know the standards that describe what is to be taught, and should then develop learning activities that engage and excite the students about learning. The teacher should know how to differentiate and to recognize and teach to the different learning styles of each student so that all students experience success."

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I love my job.

I've always wanted to be a teacher and I can't imagine doing anything else.

I especially love teaching in a DoDEA school.

I feel like by doing so I'm honoring the service of my father-in-law, my uncles, my nephew, and my son-in-law.

I'm also honoring the service of the parents of the children in my classrooms.

I feel like that everyday I provide a safe and loving environment for the children.

And by doing this the parents can count on me and they know they have one less worry in their everyday lives.

And in today's world and with the service that the military's providing I think that's something that is good for them.

So I consider it an honor for me to be able to teach in a DoDEA school.

Phyllis Smith
South Carolina/Fort Stewart/DoDDS Cuba

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Ms. Smith has 24 years of teaching experience, all with DoDEA schools on Fort Stewart, Ga. She has taught 1st through 6th grade students in reading and math at both Diamond and Kessler Elementary Schools. She received her Bachelor's and Master's of Science Degrees in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern University.

Ms. Smith believes that, "teaching is a profession that is heaped with responsibilities and challenges, those who love it do not want to be anywhere else but with a group of children." She also believes that success in the classroom is founded in the teacher's acknowledgement of the individuality of each student. "I acknowledge and embrace the diversity of children and recognize that ultimately it is my job to ensure that learning is taking place. I guide students as they become equipped to be successful citizens of tomorrow."


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The thing that fuels my passion in teaching is that when children have parents that go across the world to fight a war for us and that I can be there for them day by day and provide them with a pat on the back or a hug or any social or emotional aspect that they need, that's what makes my day a really good day in teaching.

At our school we provide the best education we can for those children and they come in every day and we don't ever know exactly what's going on in their minds.

But when we can come in and just reassure them that they're safe and that they're in a caring environment, that helps them have a much better day at school.

So I enjoy that part of teaching school.

European Area District

Alina Rozanski
Bavaria District

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Ms. Rozanski has 10 years of teaching experience, and for the past 6 years, she has taught music and social studies to middle school students in Germany. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Rozanski taught at Emerald Hills Elementary School in Bonney Lake, Wash. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance and she received her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. She has also earned her National Board Certificate in Early/Middle Childhood Music.

Using her experience as a military child and identifying with her students' experiences of moving to new duty stations, desiring to "fit in" to a new school, and living in a foreign country, Ms. Rozanski brings music as a constant element to children's lives. "Music has been the constant in my own life," she said, "and my students deserve this same opportunity, for, as General Norman H. Schwartzkopf said, 'what a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to children.'"

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I feel that one of my jobs as a middle school teacher is to be able to instill a love for my subject area.

I specifically teach choir and I feel that my job is to be able to take those students and be able to get them to love music, to live music, to desire to want to learn everything about it so that when they become high school students, college students, when they become adults they want to study more in depth.

They want to spend time delving into the intricacies of the subject because of the seed that we started back in middle school.

Anita Ann Hacker
Isles District

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Ms. Hacker has 29 years of teaching experience. She has taught Language Arts and Social Studies to middle school students in DoDEA schools in Germany and England for 15 years. She has also taught the same subjects to middle school students in Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan., and her Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Louis University.

Ms. Hacker believes that curriculum standards need to change focus and be directed at globalization and the impact of specific regions. She has her students use technology, research, and an ever-widening base of knowledge to systematically explore, analyze, and synthesize information for long-term use. She also believes that improvement in problem-solving and written communications skills are essential to student achievement and success.

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 My passion is the students.

The students first and foremost because they're what causes me to get up every morning.

They're the reason I smile.

They're the laughter in my heart; Kids are phenomenal and military kids more than anybody else.

My first teaching experience was with military children.

They bring with them their own set of problems, their own set of difficulties, their own triumphs and I learn from them each and every day.

They're awesome!

Maria T. Napoli
New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico

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Ms. Napoli has 32 years of teaching experience. For the past 23 years, she has been teaching English to students at Antilles Middle School, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Napoli taught special education students in New York City Public Schools and at Robinson School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from New York University and earned her Master's of Arts Degree in Education from New York University.

Ms. Napoli's teaching philosophy is guided by the principles of continuous learning and a focus on learning rather than instructing. "I consider teaching as a continuous learning process," she said. "I focus my teaching style on learning rather than just instructing - a delivery design model that is tuned into students' needs and the inclusion of character building throughout my teaching."

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My passion for teaching began 32 years ago.

I have experience teaching kids from 7 years of age to high school seniors.

I have also taught special education in New York City and back in Puerto Rico.

I also began as a special ed teacher at the middle school in Ft. Buchanan.

That was the first experience I had with working with military children.

I must say that working with a military child is quite a challenge because you are dealing with a transient population which have issues about making friends, making connections with different styles, different cultures.

So as a teacher I make sure that these children get the nurturing and the skills that they need in order to also survive in the years that they are back in Puerto Rico in our military school.

I think that we have done a very good job at the school level.

We have what we call the Deployed Student Group, which stems from the counseling department yet all the teachers are responsible and accountable for working with those children and being aware of their very special needs.

Micheline Eloise Huntley
Kaiserslautern District

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Ms. Huntley has 36 years of teaching experience, and has taught reading and language arts to elementary school students in DoDEA schools in Japan and Germany for 23 years. Prior to joining DoDEA, she taught Kindergarten and 1st grade at Bladenboro Primary School in Bladenboro, N.C. She is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, earning her Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Early Childhood Education.

Ms. Huntley also recognizes the importance of preparing students for their role in a global environment. "My philosophy of teaching has always been to prepare the child to be a lifelong learner and a productive citizen in our global world," she said. I believe that children should be taught first to believe in themselves - we do this by providing them with a safe environment where they can be comfortable taking risks, solving problems, and feeling excited about the process as they learn to be independent thinkers and learners."

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All right, the passion I have for teaching military children is it's exciting because you sort of feel like you're a mother to those families because they don't have that support that you have.

They don't have the immediate family here.

So what we try to do is we just support them.

And where I am is a deployment area.

Deployment is high and so I think it's great to be able to just put the families at ease and know that they can trust us and they can focus on their mission.

And then we just have an opportunity to teach the students.

And where I am is a highly deployable area and so we're always constantly trying to have different programs to bring the parents in and special events to bring the kids in so they'll be at ease.

For our school deployment is getting ready to occur and so were planning some, like I'm a literacy person, so we're planning a literacy night in January so those parents will have an opportunity to bring their child in and they can do and event such as take a picture with their parent and different things so that when their parents are gone we'll have a wall in the hall so they'll be able to go and just talk to their parents anytime.

So I think it's real important that we do what we can to keep the country safe and that's how we can help keep the military safe when they don't have to focus on that.

Cynthia Murr Watkins
Mediterranean District

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Ms. Watkins has 10 years of teaching experience, six of which have been teaching at Vicenza Elementary School in Vicenza, Italy. Ms. Watkins also taught at Frankfurt International School, in Frankfurt, Germany, Padova International School in Padova, Italy and at Hollin Meadows Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and received her Master of Education from National-Louis University.

Ms.Watkins' teaching philosophy is based on a holistic approach to teaching and learning. "This philosophy encompasses a child-centered approach which promotes the child's individuality, creative exploration and active involvement in his/her education," she said. I teach to the whole child, thereby addressing the intellectual, emotional, physical and social factors that influence children's learning and development and respecting the complexity of children's lives."

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You know the reason I really like to teach is because of the children.

It's fun but most of all you learn from them.

As you're teaching there's many life lessons that you learn from the children and there's never a dull moment.

They bring a lot of enthusiasm.

They bring a lot of enthusiasm back into your life that rekindles going to them but it's an awful lot of brainstorming.

I'm never bored.

There's never one day that's the same as the next day.

There's no two children the same.

So basically it really is just a lot of fun.

I enjoy teaching.

You know it's just their personalities.

You could get that nowhere else but from children.

And as far as the military, that's even more unique.

I think there are many challenges that they bring particularly now during deployment.

But at the same time that urges you on to do more research, be better at what you do.

You brainstorm, "Oh how am I going to get through to this child that's upset today" or maybe a child that's been upset for six months and still bring to them the motivation, the enthusiasm to learn.

So they just take it for me a little bit higher.

They make it more interesting.

Pacific Area District

Pacific Area District

Suzette Nelson
Guam District

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Ms. Nelson has 27 years of teaching experience and has been teaching Language Arts and ESOL for the past 13 years in DoDEA schools in Guam at Andersen Elementary and Middle Schools. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Nelson taught in schools in Guam and Washington state. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Viterboro University in La Crosse, Wis., and her Masters of Arts from the University of Guam.

Ms. Nelson demonstrates her philosophy of teaching by creating a workplace in her classroom where students wrestle with real-life problems. Ms. Nelson believes that students need to know how to analyze information, think critically, solve problems and work successfully in teams.

"I call it transformational education," she states. It takes the rote work off the desk and replaces it with thought-provoking tasks. It transforms the classroom into a modern day workplace where individuals and teams are challenged to identify resources, offer solutions or resolve problems. It empowers students to define what they know, ask meaningful questions, search systematically for answers and present their findings."

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My passion for teaching, I wake up every morning and I'm excited about going to school.

I'm excited to hear what kinds of questions kids are going to ask me about what it is I'm teaching.

I've been teaching for 27 years now and everyday somebody asks me something that challenges my sense of humor and makes me think a little bit more about why it is that I'm teaching this subject, language arts.

And it's just exciting!

Michelle K. Foust
Japan District

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Ms. Foust has 20 years of teaching experience. During the past 10 years she has taught 1st grade and math support to DoDEA students at The Sullivans School in Yokosuka, Japan. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms.Foust taught 1st, 2nd, 1/2 Multi-age, and 4th grade students in Fayetteville, N.C. and 1st grade at Ft. Gulick, Panama. Ms. Foust earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina and earned her Master's of Science in Education specializing in Integrating Technology in the Classroom from Walden University.

Ms. Foust believes her mission as an educator is to provide an effective learning environment in which children obtain the necessary skills to become productive citizens. "We have an acute responsibility as educators to create an environment in which all children feel capable, competent, and connected to the community of learners," she said. "This is particularly important as we prepare our students to be citizens in a global environment - in a world where tomorrow's jobs don't even exist today."

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Well my passion for teaching military kids begins with my own experiences.

I started as a student a long time ago as a first grader in Bamberg Germany.

And I had a lot of experience growing up as a military dependent.

My father was in the Army and so I understand the needs of military children because I was one myself.

Also as a parent, of course like many of us, I grew up and married somebody in the Army.

And then I followed my husband to Panama.

So, again, I experienced DoDDS as a military parent and also as a teacher in Panama and I saw the unique needs that military children have.

I know for myself, as I was traveling around as a military dependent I saw a distinct difference between the DoDEA schools and the schools that I went to back in the states.

And I just would like to bring that same quality, that fine education to military dependents today.

Lori Diane Lundy
Korea District

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Ms. Lundy has 27 years of teaching experience and has taught reading in DoDEA elementary schools in Germany and Korea for the past 20 years. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Lundy taught in middle and elementary schools in Georgia and Florida.

She earned her Associate of Arts Degree from Manatee Community College and her Master's of Science Degree from Florida State University.

Ms. Lundy advocates for inclusion in the classroom. She believes a goal of the classroom teacher should be to create a learning environment which meets the needs of not only the regular education students, but more importantly the students who struggle with learning, who are not able to make good decisions about their behavior and those students whose family situations are less than optimal.

"Providing this environment comes about by managing classroom behavior in such a way that children feel safe to try new things and every child feels accepted by what they are accomplishing no matter what level they are on. Each day is a new start."

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I love teaching and I especially love teaching children of military families.

Military families go through such stress with deployments and PCS moves and it is my job as a teacher to make sure that children feel safe, that they have a stable environment and that they feel good about coming to school even though their lives may be under a great deal of stress.

Ronald Michael Geist
Okinawa District

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Mr. Geist has 30 years of teaching experience, 11 of which have been with DoDEA schools in Japan and Guam. He is presently a vocal and instrumental instructor at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan. He has also taught the same subjects to students at Zama American High School in Tokyo, Japan and at Andersen Middle School in Guam. Prior to joining DoDEA, Mr. Geist was a vocal and instrumental instructor at Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas, Nev.; Dededo Middle School in Guam, Morris School District, Warroad School District, and Waubun-White Earth-Ogema School District, all in Minnesota.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a Master's Degree in Educational Technology and Curriculum from Grand Canyon University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Francis Marion University and his Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Phoenix.

Mr. Geist believes teachers should be self-directed, enthusiastic educators with a passionate commitment to student development and the learning experience. "I strive to be a teacher that inspires, instead of demeans, a teacher who is committed to making a difference one child at a time, a teacher who wants to enhance the lives of other human beings, and a teacher who brings a high level of energy to their subject or program."

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I think that my passion for teaching started in 7th grade when I decided that I wanted to be a choir director.

Also my passion for my country started long before that.

Listening to stories my father would tell me about being a green beret in World War II.

And from that point in time I wanted to serve my country.

I tried to serve my country upon graduating from high school but wasn't accepted because I have asthma.

And so therefore I did teach for many years in Minnesota and then I was fortunate to get an opportunity to teach for DoDEA.

To help mold the children of the military has been very rewarding for me.

And I would like to think that every day when I go to school I'm sharing my passion for music for life with these fine people.