2013 Teachers of the Year

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Sarah Loomis

DoDEA Teacher of the Year
Teacher of the Year for Kaiserslautern District, DoDEA Europe
Kaiserslautern Elementary School, Germany

Sarah Loomis is an Educational Technologist at Kaiserslautern Elementary School. She has been teaching for 21 years and is in her fourth year at KES.

Mrs. Loomis holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle City University. Her professional credentials are in Elementary Education from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.

Loomis believes that students need to experience learning from a variety of perspectives. She believes that as teachers, it is essential to build problem based learning environments that are engaging, that allow for risk-taking, that are goal oriented and are relevant to real world.

Sarah and her husband enjoy trekking and skiing in the mountains, exploring the cities of Europe and camping during the summer.


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Daisy Alegre-Cruz
Teacher of the Year for Isles District, DoDEA Europe
Lakenheath High School, United Kingdom

Mrs. Daisy Alegre-Cruz is a Career Practicum, Advanced Placement Psychology, and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher at Lakenheath High School. She has been teaching for 8 years, with 4 of those years in DoDEA.

Alegre-Cruz double-majored in Psychology and Human Resource Development from Mount Olive College in North Carolina and received her teaching preparation in Secondary Social Studies from the University of Guam. She obtained her Master’s in Education from Wayland Baptist University. For the last four years, she has also been working toward a Ph.D. in Psychology from Capella University.

Mrs. Alegre-Cruz believes in preparing students for college and career success and utilizes the Rigor and Relevance Framework for teaching and assessing as well as AVID strategies to achieve that goal.

Alegre-Cruz is a registered yoga teacher, is a wife and mother of an 11-month old daughter.


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Katie Biggs
Teacher of the Year for Korea District, DoDEA Pacific
Seoul American Elementary School, Korea

Mrs. Katie Biggs is a Kindergarten teacher at Seoul American Elementary School in Seoul, South Korea. She has taught in DoDEA schools for twelve years.

Biggs earned a bachelor degree in Exercise Science, Health and Wellness from Abilene Christian University and her teaching degree from Southwestern Texas State University.

Welcoming a room full of children, challenging them to become critical thinkers, leading them to successes, and watching them grow as lifelong learners and valuable members of our 21st Century society are what fuels her daily teachings. Ms. Biggs teaches to the whole child and strives for every child to walk out the door feeling successful, loved, safe, valued and inspired.

Mrs. Biggs is a military spouse, married to LTC Bradley S. Biggs and has two children.  


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Lota Bryans
Teacher of the Year for South Carolina/Fort Stewart/DoDDS Cuba, DoDEA Americas
Patrick L. Kessler Elementary School, Georgia

Lota Bryans is a Reading Instructional Support Teacher for grades 3rd through 6th at Patrick L. Kessler Elementary school in Fort Stewart, Georgia. She has taught for fourteen years with DoDEA and an additional two years in Guam Public Schools.

Bryans received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work, magna cum laude, from Mercer University, formerly Tift College. She holds a professional credential in K-8 education from the University of Guam, as well as a Master of Education with a Specialty in Leadership from the University of Portland.

Bryans believes that teachers must collaborate with fellow teachers and administrators to actively shape a network of professionals who adhere to emerging standards and research in order to grow as educators and meet the complex issues and evolving realities of 21st century education. Educators must not isolate themselves behind classroom doors, but draw on the strengths from within an active professional learning community to prepare students for the 21st Century.

Bryans and her husband enjoy family, friends, world travel, and living on the Georgia coast.


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Lynn Irwin
Teacher of the Year for Georgia-Alabama District, DoDEA Americas
Ft. Rucker Primary School, Alabama

Lynn Irwin is a first grade teacher at Ft. Rucker Primary School in Ft. Rucker, AL. She has been in education for 25 years and has had the opportunity to serve active duty military families and their children for the past 10 years.

Ms. Irwin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Auburn University Montgomery, a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Troy University Dothan, an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership and Technology from Auburn University, and is currently pursuing a PhD. in Educational Leadership and Technology from Auburn University.

Ms. Irwin believes that educators have a responsibility to their students and colleagues to be lifelong learners in order to stay on the cutting edge of newly emerging best practices. She also believes that it is incumbent upon educators to prepare all students for success in the 21st Century by providing them with challenging, engaging, and real world learning experiences.

Lynn is married to a retired U. S. Army aviator and has two daughters. The Irwin family enjoys traveling together and spending time at the lake.


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Jessica McKelvey
Teacher of the Year for Kentucky District, DoDEA Americas
Pierce Elementary School, Kentucky

Jessica McKelvey is a third grade inclusion teacher at Pierce Elementary School. She has taught for seven years, including nearly four years in the Fort Knox Community Schools of the Kentucky District.

Ms. McKelvey received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis of language and literacy from California State University, Long Beach. She also holds a Master of Education degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently working on a mobile technology certificate from the University of San Diego.

An avid learner with a penchant for breaking boundaries, McKelvey believes that teachers have the responsibility of making curriculum come alive and connect with the real world all while molding active, responsible citizens.

Her experience includes serving as a TEFL Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Moldova, shaping at-risk young adults as the district-wide GED educator in Salem, VA, teaching English as a Second Language in a variety of environments, and conducting Health & Safety classes as an instructor for the American Red Cross.


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Sarah McKinney
Teacher of the Year for Okinawa District, DoDEA Pacific
Kadena High School, Okinawa

Ms. Sarah McKinney is an English and Literature teacher at Kadena High School where she has taught for the past seven years. Ms. McKinney joined DoDEA in 2001; prior to her tenure at KDHS, she taught Language Arts at Lester Middle School in Okinawa and at Seoul American Middle School in Korea. She has also served as the DoDEA Pacific Instructional Support Specialist for English/Language Arts. Ms. McKinney began her teaching career in Kansas City.

Ms. McKinney earned a bachelor’s degree in English and German from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Upon completing her education degree, she served as a DoDEA student teacher in Baumholder, Germany. From there she earned a Master of Arts in English from the University of St. Thomas, where she was a fellowship recipient.

Creating an engaged and dynamic classroom is at the core of Mrs. McKinney’s philosophy. Ms. McKinney brings learning to life and links literature to its social context though simulations, fieldtrips and collaboration with colleagues.

Ms. McKinney is also an active member in the local community and enjoys supporting various causes through taking part in 5Ks and 10Ks both on base and in the local community. She and her husband, also a Kadena High School teacher, are the proud parents of a 3-year-old daughter.


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Kelly Melvin
Teacher of the Year for NC- Ft. Bragg District, DoDEA Americas
Albritton Middle School, North Carolina

Kelly Melvin has spent her entire DoDEA teaching career at Albritton Middle School, teaching Physical Education and Health for 23 years. She currently teaches 6th-8th grades and spent many years teaching 9th grade as well.

Mrs. Melvin received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Methodist University in 1990 and her Masters of Arts in Physical Education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2000.

Melvin believes that in order for educators to create learners who will think, achieve, and care about the world, we must be willing to understand that what has worked in the past may no longer work for us in the future. She believes that the unique environment of today’s learner involves understanding and teaching the whole child.

In addition to teaching, Kelly Melvin coaches and officiates volleyball and softball and loves to travel. She and her husband have 2 daughters and a son.


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Kristina C. Muñoz
Teacher of the Year for Mediterranean District, DoDEA Europe
Aviano Elementary School, Italy

Kristina Muñoz is currently a 3rd grade teacher at Aviano Elementary School. She has been teaching for 13 years, nine of which have been spent serving students in DoDEA schools. The remaining years were spent teaching in public schools located in Georgia and Kansas.

Muñoz is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, and continued her education at the University of Kansas, earning a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Gifted Education.

Muñoz is an ambitious teacher whose goal has been to focus on changing students’ lives and opportunities for learning in a variety of school settings around the world.

She currently resides in Aviano, Italy with her husband, son and dog (Dugan).


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Donna J. Rhodes
Teacher of the Year for Guam District, DoDEA Pacific
Andersen Elementary School, Guam

Ms. Donna Rhodes is a first grade teacher at Andersen Elementary School. Ms. Rhodes joined DoDEA in 1997. She has taught first grade for 20 years; four years with the Guam public school system and 16 years in her current position.

Ms. Rhodes holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from California State University, Fresno and completed her teacher certification courses at the University of Guam. She is currently working on a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Mathematics from Concordia University, Portland.

Rhodes believes to be an effective teacher one must view each child as an individual, discover their needs, and then create a plan to help them succeed.

Ms. Rhodes spends her free time with family, reading, and honing her skills as a nature photographer.


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Jeff Sparling
Teacher of the Year for Japan District, DoDEA Pacific
The Sullivans School, Japan

Jeff Sparling is a 3rd grade teacher at The Sullivans School in Yokosuka Japan. He has been teaching for 12 years, including 10 years for DoDEA ranging from the 3rd and 5th grades.

Mr. Sparling holds a Bachelors of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Northern Arizona University and a Master's of Science in Education Leadership from Capella University. He is professionally certified in Elementary Education K-8, and Special Education K-12 from DoDEA and the state of Arizona.

Mr. Sparling facilitates a responsive classroom community, providing students a challenging academic curriculum which incorporates whole brain teaching style, incites curiosity and humor, and fosters social-emotional growth. He creates positive social interactions between students and adults to generate respect, trust, build confidence, and improve overall student performance.

Mr. Sparling’s wife is a School Psychologist and they have two daughters. They enjoy traveling, hiking, and celebrating the adventures of life with family and friends.  


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Louise Thompson
Teacher of the Year for Bavaria District, DoDEA Europe
Ansbach Elementary School, Germany

Louise Thompson is a 1st/2nd grade multiage STEAM teacher at Ansbach Elementary School. She has been teaching for a little over 20 years and has taught every grade from pre-k through 6th. This is her 14th year with DoDDS.

Louise holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, a certification in Early Childhood Education from Towson State University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix.

Louise believes that in order to help all students achieve their potential we need to start looking at their individual data and encourage them to set achievable goals. If we focus on students’ growth instead of their grades, we will help them see their successes as well as their challenges.

Louise and her husband have taught together since their days in rural Alaska. They are the proud parents of three military children. They have a daughter in the Air Force and two sons in the Navy. Louise is also a Girl Scout leader. She has a Brownie Troop and a Junior/Cadette Troop. She enjoys working with the girls on various community projects and badges. She especially enjoys going on trips with them. They have gone to London, Paris, Venice and Switzerland.

In her spare time, Louise enjoys traveling, quilting and reading.


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Maryellen Tissandier
Teacher of the Year for NC- Camp Lejeune District, DoDEA Americas
Tarawa Terrace Elementary School, North Carolina

Maryellen Tissandier is a 4th grade teacher at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School. She has been teaching for 4 years with DoDEA and has taught both 3rd and 4th grade. Before beginning her career with DoDEA, she was a teacher assistant with Onslow County Schools.

Ms. Tissandier holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies K-6 from Western Governor’s University. She is currently attending Liberty University to complete a Master’s in Instructional Technology and Online Learning.

Being a part of the military community and a military spouse, Ms. Tissandier is able to share her experiences with her students and they always leave a mark in her heart. Ms. Tissandier strongly believes in the use of technology in the classroom and uses it as a tool to help meet the needs of every child in her classroom so they can succeed.

Ms. Tissandier is married to a Marine and they have one son. As a family they enjoy outside activities and spending time with family and friends.


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Tricia Willis
Teacher of the Year for New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico District, DoDEA Americas
West Point Middle School, New York

Ms. Tricia Willis teaches science and health to 6th-8th grade students at West Point Middle School. She has thirteen years of teaching experience where nine of them have been dedicated to DoDEA’s West Point Middle School.

After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Old Dominion University in 1988, Willis gained experience in forensic chemistry. Following a Master of Arts in Teaching from Cameron University in 1997, Willis brought her passion and expertise to the classroom fostering a love for problem solving with real-life applications. She values the needs of the whole child and equips each learner with 21st Century tools.

Ms. Willis was a military spouse for over twenty years and today, Tricia is an active community member who maintains ties with the extended military family, STEM partners (e.g., USMA, Mid-Hudson Technical Societies, eCybermission), and local service organizations.

DoDEA Americas
Sylvia Patrick

Sylvia Patrick
Teacher of the Year for Georgia/Alabama District, DoDEA Americas
6th Grade Science
Ft. Rucker Elementary School, Alabama

Sylvia Patrick is currently a 6th grade science teacher at Ft. Rucker Elementary School in Ft. Rucker, Ala. She has spent 25 years educating the children of our military families. Patrick has taught in Ft. Riley, Kan. and Ft. Richardson, Alaska. This is her 22nd year at Ft. Rucker Elementary School.

Patrick graduated in Jan. 1983 from Christopher Newport University in Virginia with a B. A. in Elementary Education. She received a Master of Education (gifted) from Troy University in Alabama.

Patrick grew up as a military child and was a military spouse. She understands the unique life-style and needs of her students and families. Her students are her priority, and she believes it is a privilege to help develop their young minds and character. She enjoys challenging her students with innovative lessons and activities, building their confidence, and making them feel successful.

Patrick has twin daughters of whom she is very proud. Amanda has also become a science teacher, and Andrea is a Captain in the United States Air Force. In her spare time, Patrick enjoys reading, traveling, and many outdoor activities.


Felice Wahlberg

Felice Wahlberg
Teacher of the Year for Kentucky District, DoDEA Americas
Fort Knox High School (FKHS), Kentucky

Felice Wahlberg has been an educator at Fort Knox High School (FKHS) at Fort Knox, Ky. since 1979 and is very proud to say that she is also an alumnus of Fort Knox High School, Class of 1975.

Wahlberg graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1979 with a Bachelor of Art degree in history and a certificate to teach grades 7—12. She earned her Master of Art degree in Secondary Education and a Rank I in Secondary Counseling through Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green, Ky.

Wahlberg has worked in various capacities at Fort Knox High School. She began her career as a teacher’s aide and full-time substitute and was also a counselor for grades 9 and 10 for four years. But her true love was being in the classroom and she has taught social studies for 31 years. Wahlberg has primarily taught Advanced Placement (AP) United States History, United States History and United States Government. In addition, she has taught AVID and College Entrance Prep.

While teaching at Fort Knox High School, Wahlberg has been involved in numerous activities. She coached cheerleading for ten years and had the first high school coed team in the state of Kentucky in 1986. After cheerleading, she coached the dance team for 14 years and her teams regularly qualified for national competitions. In addition, Wahlberg has been a senior class sponsor, assistant play director, academic team advisor, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) advisor, and she is the current advisor for Fort Knox High School Chapter of the National Honor Society.

Wahlberg loves teaching at FKHS and feels a special bond with her students because she grew up as an “army brat.” She maintains correspondence with students long after graduation and has attended college graduations, weddings, and baby showers for many of her former students. Wahlberg believes that teaching is a lifelong commitment that doesn’t end with high school graduation. She feels that teaching is one of the most important professions because of the impact teachers can make in the lives of students. 


Maureen Holt

Maureen Holt
Teacher of the Year for New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico District, DoDEA Americas
Dahlgren School, Virginia

Maureen Holt teaches students in grades Pre-K through 8th in the subjects of social studies, art, drama, creative thinking and humanities. She has 29 years of teaching experience with 12 of those years spent serving students in DoDEA schools. She is a leader at her school, serving as both the Continuous School Improvement Team Chairperson and Safety Officer. In addition, she is a valued member of the Advancement Via Individual Determination, (AVID) site team, Crisis Team, and Middle School Team.

Holt earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education, Pre-K – 12 from Longwood University in Va. in 1983. She began teaching middle school art, and then moved on to Special Education for three years before returning to art in the elementary setting. Holt continued her education by earning her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. in 2001.

During her career with DoDEA, she has taught many different electives in addition to art. She has written several original plays which her drama classes have performed. Holt said her certification in history has been the fulfillment of a life-long dream. Her strength is combining history and art with every other curricular area to motivate her students to want to learn more.

Holt spends the majority of her free time serving the small community in which she lives, working on her house, and taking care of her beagles. She is a former member of the town council and now serves as a member of the Planning Commission. She tries to instill a sense of duty and citizenship in her students which she hopes will have a lasting effect on their lives.


Marnie Albertson

Marnie Louise Albertson
Teacher of the Year for North Carolina District, DoDEA Americas
6th through 8th grade Read 180
Brewster Middle School, North Carolina

Marnie Louise Albertson teaches 6th through 8th grade Read 180 at Brewster Middle School, on Camp Lejeune, N.C.

As a native of North Carolina, Marnie Albertson was raised on the east coast, near Camp Lejeune. After graduating from East Carolina University in 1993 with a degree in Middle School Education, she worked for five years in Craven County, North Carolina as a Language Arts, Social Studies and Math teacher.

On the advice of a relative, Marnie applied to the Camp Lejeune school system in 1999 and was offered a position at Brewster Middle School as an Instructional Support teacher for Reading and Math. Albertson worked with 6th and 7th grade for several years in this capacity and then taught 7th grade Language Arts for many more years.

In 2009, Albertson began teaching Read 180 and truly found her niche. Although she has always loved teaching, helping students improve their reading skills has always been her passion. Albertson believes all students have the capacity to learn and improve their skills and that as educators it is our responsibility to supply our students with the very best education possible. It is not enough to impart information, we must teach our students to believe in their own ability to learn and grow.

Albertson and her mother, Judy, enjoy life at their home on Topsail Island, North Carolina. Her hobbies include swimming, visiting with family, and of course… reading.


Evetta Johnson

Evetta Johnson
Teacher of the Year for South Carolina/Fort Stewart/ DoDDS-Cuba School District, DoDEA Americas
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Elementary School, South Carolina

Evetta Johnson is a 3rd grade teacher at Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Elementary School at Fort Jackson, S. Carolina. Johnson has been teaching for twenty years, fourteen years with the Department of Defense Education Activity and the remaining years in South Carolina public schools. She has completed post graduate work from several universities; University of South Carolina, University of San Diego, University of Maryland, and Converse College.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina in 1992. In 1997, she completed a Masters of Science degree in Special Education-Learning Disability, from the University of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina.

Her strong belief that all children can learn influenced her decision in pursing certification in Special Education-Learning Disability. Johnson believes that the same strategies utilized in a self-contained special needs classroom are some of the same effective strategies that can be used to teach struggling, at risk students in a regular education environment. She believes the least restrictive environment will empower the students to set high expectations for themselves and enhance their self-confidence. Her challenge is designing learning experiences that will complement students’ strengths.

In addition to being a 1996 Milken National Educator award recipient, Johnson was recently honored as the 2012-2013 South Carolina/Fort Stewart/DoDDS-Cuba District Teacher of the Year, for her contributions in education.

Johnson is married to Karl, retired Air Force and they have two adult children. She also is the grandmother of two wonderful granddaughters. Outside of her professional interests, she loves spending time with family, cooking, reading, and shopping. The Johnsons reside in Sumter, South Carolina with her youngest sibling Thomas.


DoDEA European
Christopher Thomas

Christopher S. Thomas
Teacher of the Year for Heidelberg District, DoDEA Europe
Wiesbaden Middle School, Germany

Christopher S. Thomas is currently an 8th grade science teacher at Wiesbaden Middle School in Weisbaden, Germany. Born in Texas, Thomas grew up and attended school in Tennessee. He worked his way through college, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1998 and master’s degree in education in 2000, both from Old Dominion University.

Thomas’ service to DoDEA began as an intern in the Baumholder community in 1999, followed by a professional position at Seoul American Middle School from2000-2006. During this time, he separated from DoDEA for one school year to return to the states, working for Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan, and marrying the love of his life, Christie Morrison. Following his return to Seoul, Thomas and his family transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany – first to Hainerberg Elementary School, and then Wiesbaden Middle School.

Thomas’ focus and passion has always been middle level education. His primary field is science, though he has taught numerous electives, AVID, social studies courses and math.

Thomas has been a proud member of the National Education Association since his pre-service experiences in the NEA Student Program. He is currently serving as the Wiesbaden Education Association President, and believes strongly in the collaborative power of association members and administration.

Thomas feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve military families and their children for the last 13 years. He feels that unique components of our military community allow for a supportive environment in which academic excellence is not only expected, but the norm.

Thomas’ family is a priority to him. He and his wife have three young children.


Jan Starnes

Jan Starnes
Teacher of the Year for Isles District, DoDEA Europe
Lakenheath Middle School, England

Jan Starnes is current the Physical Educator at Lakenheath Middle School, in Lakenheath, England. Year after year, Starnes produces higher learning gains and increases her students’ academic scores in a special program that she has created for at-risk students.

She takes pride in changing the students’ vision of their abilities which effects their motivation and this helps to develop their commitment in setting their goals as it increases self- confidence.

Starnes is from Portland, Ore., and has taught for 38 years in several curriculum areas. She volunteers her time before and after school as well as on the weekends to promote student success. Starnes’ firm, fair, and consistent program fosters and encourages at- risk students to succeed in and out of the classroom.

Her teaching philosophy includes the concept to engage the whole child, their parents and all immediate stakeholders in the learning process.


Michael Brust

Michael Brust
Teacher of the Year for Kaiserslautern District, DoDEA Europe
Ramstein High School, Germany

Michael Brust teaches mathematics at Ramstein High School, in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Brust believes strong teacher leader skills transcend a classroom, school, and district. Working with two teachers from schools in the district, Tim Kelly and Corey Sullivan, Brust put together a “flipped mastery” program for Algebra I that is being used and modeled throughout DoDEA. The “flipped mastery” model builds in the fact that students are in charge of their own learning and they strive to do well. Students feel successful and confident because of this work.

Brust has a vision for how he feels he can affect instruction for 21st century learners. He is continuing the flipped mastery concept through the high school math sequences and creating innovative multi-age, multi-level classrooms.

Brust met his wife, the former Amanda Lindeman, during his undergraduate studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and is the father of three children, Owen, Emerson and Oliver. Brust went on to earn his Masters’ Degree in Mathematics in Education from Western Governor’s University while teaching in Lajes Field, Azores. Brust has been teaching throughout DoDEA for the last 12 years. He attributes his ability to give 110% in his career to his supportive wife and loving family.


Maribel Bastidas

Maribel Bastidas
Teacher of the Year for Mediterranean District, DoDEA Europe
David Glasgow Farragut Middle/ High School, Spain

Maribel Bastida teaches Spanish at David Glasgow Farragut Middle/ High School, in Rota, Spain. With 25 years of teaching experience, Bastidas taught for Virginia Public Schools and for DoDEA schools in Italy and Spain. Her Department of Defense career began 17 years ago when her husband was transferred overseas to Naples, Italy.

Bastidas graduated as a Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Virginia Wesleyan College and received a Master’s of Humanities from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Bastidas was a recipient of the Sallie Mae Award for first year teachers in 1988 and was recognized as Virginia Beach Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in 1994.

Teaching students to respect and appreciate other cultures and to solve conflicts through communication are Bastidas’ ultimate goals as an educator. In addition, Maribel strives to promote a culture of collaboration and cooperation among teachers, parents and community members.

Bastidas and her husband have two children who were educated in the Department of Defense Education Activity system. She enjoys traveling with her family, meeting people from other cultures and dancing.


DoDEA Pacific
Jacob Dowell

Jacob Dowdell Jr.
Teacher of the Year for Guam District, DoDEA Pacific
Andersen Elementary School, Guam

Jacob Dowdell Jr. teaches 3rd Grade at Andersen Elementary School on Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam. With 14 years of teaching experience, Jacob has taught for Normandy Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, and DoDEA schools in Japan. He has been teaching for the Department of Defense Education Activity for 11 years.

Dowdell graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree and received a Master’s of Public Administration Degree from Troy State University. Jacob serves as the Mentor Coordinator for Andersen Elementary School, Head Football coach for Guam High School, and Head soccer coach for Andersen Middle School.

Educating and equipping Dowdell Dynamos (his students) to be dynamic thinkers, who will change the world, is his passion. Dowdell works collaboratively with colleagues to infuse technology, differentiate instruction, and integrate 21st Century teaching and learning into every aspect of the learning environment.

Jacob is the proud father of Jacob, Olivia, and Jeylyn Dowdell. All three children are currently enrolled in DoDEA schools.


Jordan Kitara

Dr. Kitara D. M. Jordan
Teacher of the Year for Japan District, DoDEA Pacific
Jack N. Darby Elementary School, Japan

Dr. Kitara D. M. Jordan has 18 years of teaching experience. Jordan joined DoDEA five years ago teaching kindergarten at Jack N. Darby Elementary School at Sasebo Naval Base in Sasebo, Japan. She lives in the Sasebo community with her husband, Paul and their son Joshua. Prior to coming to DoDEA, Jordan taught kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, reading and math EIP (Early Intervention Program) at C. H. Gullatt Elementary School in Union City, Georgia. She was also the Primary Curriculum Support Teacher for Conley Hills Elementary School in East Point, Ga. Both schools are a part of the Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Ga.

Upon graduating from A. E. Beach High School in Savannah, Ga., Jordan attended college at Fort Valley State College where she received two bachelor degrees (Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management and Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education). She earned a degree in Master of Science in Elementary Education from Troy State University and received her Doctoral Degree in Child and Youth Studies from Nova Southeastern University. Jordan believes in the power of global communal educational environments. Jordan was honored as well as overwhelmed when told that she won this award. “I am living proof that a strong communal educational support system can truly change a child’s life when we take a vested interest in our students,” Jordan said.


Tracy Stockdale

Tracy Stockdale
Teacher of the Year for Korea District, DoDEA Pacific
Casey Elementary School, Korea

Tracy Stockdale has nine years teaching experience; seven of those with DoDEA. Stockdale began her DoDEA career as a sixth grade teacher at Hohenfels Elementary School in Hohenfels, Germany. At Hohenfels, she was the Continuous School Improvement (CSI) Co-Chair for four years, sponsored student council, and facilitated homework club.

She currently teaches first grade at Casey Elementary School, Dongducheon, Korea. Beyond her teaching responsibilities, Stockdale is the CSI Co-Chair at Casey. She is actively involved in the community as a choir member, CYSS Parent Advisory Council secretary, and military spouse.

Stockdale is a graduate of Cornell College, where she majored in Elementary Education and Psychology. After finishing her undergraduate studies, she earned a Masters in Human Relations Degree from the University of Oklahoma. As an Army wife, she feels a connection to military families. She works hard to get to know her students and families. She also feels that students learn best when there is a positive “home-school” partnership!

Ms. Stockdale and her husband, Travis, have two sons, Garrick and Gavin. When not at school, Stockdale enjoys spending time with her family, catching up with friends, traveling, and cooking.


Eric Ebert

Eric Ebert
Teacher of the Year for Okinawa District, DoDEA Pacific
Educational Technologist
Bechtel Elementary School, Okinawa

Eric Ebert joined DoDDS in 2000 as a sixth grade teacher at Yokota East Elementary. He also taught fourth and fifth grades at Cummings Elementary in Misawa, and fifth grade at E.C. Killin Elementary. This is his eighth year at Bechtel as the Educational Technologist. He began his teaching career in 1997 at M.K. Rawlings Elementary in Pinellas County, Florida. There Ebert taught fifth grade and later moved into a Technology Specialist position.

He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1990 to 1994 and was stationed on Okinawa as a military policeman. Much of his tour involved working with students as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officer for Bechtel, E.C. Killin and Zukeran elementary schools.

Ebert’s goal, and his platform in the competition for DoDEA Teacher of the Year, is preparing teachers to transition to a 21st century classroom.

“The teacher’s role will need to shift from the ‘dispenser of knowledge’ who takes an entire class through the same lesson at the same pace, to more of a 21st Century learning facilitator who guides students as they follow their own individualized education plan,” he said.

“With the right software and training, every single student could be actively engaged in learning the curriculum standards at their own pace, following their own interests, and developing ownership of their own learning,” Ebert said.

Ebert has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida and a Masters' Degree in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. He is married and the proud father of two boys.