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2016 Teacher of the Year

Mary Hansen

Mary Hansen
NY/VA/PR District Teacher of the Year, DoDEA Americas
Crossroads ES, STEM Teacher and Instructional Coach

Mary Hansen is the STEM teacher at Crossroads Elementary School, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. She has 20 years of teaching experience with 16 of those years in DoDEA.

Mrs. Hansen received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education, cum laude, from Boston College and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning Elementary Mathematics from Nova Southeastern University. She is professionally certified in Elementary Education Prek-6 and Gifted Education K-12, and is currently pursuing her Math Specialist certification.

Mrs. Hansen ignites her students' interest in STEM by creating learning opportunities that are challenging, meaningful, and relevant. She believes that teachers must embrace change, encourage innovation, and foster creativity; not just in their students, but in themselves.

Mrs. Hansen is married to a retired U.S. Army officer and has two children. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.


2016 District Teacher of the Year Recipients

DoDEA Americas

Bridget Lester

Bridget Lester
GA/AL District Teacher of the Year
Ft. Rucker Primary School, Gifted Education

Bridget Lester is a gifted resource teacher and STEM lab teacher at Fort Rucker Primary School. Before coming to DoDEA, she taught 6 years in public school systems in Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama. She is in her fifth year as a teacher at FRPS.

Mrs. Lester holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Gifted and Talented Instruction from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Mrs. Lester believes that it is never too early to start preparing students to be successful in the 21st century. Through STEM lessons, students are able to engage in real life problem solving activities and gain experience working in collaborative groups - skills necessary to be successful in their future careers.

Bridget is married to an Army Staff Sergeant and has three step-children. In their free time, they enjoy going to the beach or traveling with their families.

Kacey TooleKacey Toole
KY District Teacher of the Year
Lincoln ES, 3rd Grade

Kacey Toole is a third grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary on Fort Campbell in the Kentucky district. She is a graduate of Austin College in Sherman, Texas where she holds a Masters in the Art of Teaching.

As a military spouse, Mrs. Toole has had the opportunity to teach in several states as well as for DoDEA in Ansbach, Germany and at Fort Stewart. Mrs. Toole currently serves as her school's Continuous School Improvement (CSI) Chair-Person and has a passion for creating student centered classrooms that integrate the creative use of technology.


Ashley Melton

Ashley Melton
NC-Camp Lejeune District Teacher of the Year
Heroes ES, 5th Grade

Ashley Melton graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education in 2009. After a year working as a teacher in Indiana, she accepted a teaching position with the Department of Defense Education Activity at Camp Lejeune, NC.

Ms. Melton has taught kindergarten, first, third, and fifth grade during her tenure. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she serves as the Secretary for Lejeune Education Association. Ms. Melton utilizes technology to empower students to reach their full potential and provides students with a variety of project based learning activities. Her commitment to excellence propelled her to become a major contributor in the development of district wide assessments and the data collection system.

Ms. Melton is consistently sought out for her expertise with Google for Education, Smartboard, and other technology platforms. Currently, she is working towards a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.


Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams
NC-Fort Bragg District Teacher of the Year
Hampton Primary School, Special Ed (LIMM)

Lisa A. Williams, a native of San Diego, California, is a Special Education Teacher at Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg, NC. She has been teaching for fifteen years and this is her fourth year with DoDEA.

Ms. Williams holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Music Education (Howard University); a second Master's Degree in Special Education (University of San Diego); and an Education Specialist degree in Special Education with a concentration in Music Therapy (Florida State University).

She believes that all students possess individual leadership skills and an innate ability to learn. She also believes it is her responsibility as an educator to help students identify their unique leadership qualities and use those qualities to achieve at their highest potential.

Lisa truly enjoys giving back to her community. She is a professional musician who is committed to leadership and service. She has a passion for helping others understand the importance of using digital tools within the learning environment to enhance 21st Century education.


Kathy HolleyKathy Holley
SC/Ft. Stewart/Cuba District Teacher of the Year
Bolden ES/MS, Gifted Teacher

Kathy Holley has been teaching for over 15 years and for the past 13 years, she has taught Gifted Education, Business Enterprise, and Creative Thinking at Charles F. Bolden Elementary/Middle School in the South Carolina/Fort Stewart/DoDDS Cuba District. Prior to teaching at Bolden, Mrs. Holley taught Modular Technology, a project-based lab, at Lady's Island Middle School in Beaufort, South Carolina. She graduated from the University of South-Carolina Aiken, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. In 2004, she also acquired her certification in Gifted Education through the University of Charleston and Converse College.

Believing that she will inspire and ignite the minds of young people on a daily basis through the use of challenging-based lessons and technology, is what motivates her as an educator. As a former parent stated, "My children learned the benefits of time-management and how to break a large project down into manageable bits through the Wax Museum experience. Due to technology, Mrs. Holley was able to have one-on-one time with each student and each project. How much better does it get, actual individualized education! As the students progressed and began to write their reports, she monitored these online and made editorial suggestions. I have NEVER seen technology used so well in a school in all of my years as a parent. I am so very impressed with Mrs. Holley's ability to manage so many students and projects at one time."

Although born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Mrs. Holley was transferred at an early age to the beautiful Lowcountry of Beaufort, South Carolina due to her father being in the Marine Corps. Relaxing by the beach with a good book or magazine, walking the waterfront, riding a roller coaster with her grandson, and traveling the waters on a boat with her family and friends are her greatest pleasures outside of teaching.

DoDEA Europe

Michael Lee Dodd

Michael Lee Dodd II
Bavaria District Teacher of the Year
Robinson Barracks E/MS, Science

Michael Lee Dodd II currently teaches 6th grade Science at Robinson Barracks Elementary/ Middle School in Stuttgart, Germany. He has 11 years of teaching experience, seven of them within DoDEA. Before coming to Stuttgart, he taught grades 6-8 at Mannheim Middle School.

Mr. Dodd recently completed a Master of Science Degree in Education with a focus in K-8 Science from Walden University. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and Environmental Studies from Principia College in Elsah, IL. Mr. Dodd hails from Quincy, Illinois where he his family continues their tradition of teaching.

Mr. Dodd creates an environment that fosters excitement about scientific inquiry and incorporates the middle school concept of educating the whole child. Through strong partnerships and collaborative instruction, Mr. Dodd helps students achieve their potential to become college and career ready.


Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell
Isles District Teacher of the Year
Shape HS, Science

Mr. Todd Mitchell became a teacher 12 years ago after working as a research chemist and small business owner. Prior to that, Mr. Mitchell was a Naval Submarine Officer involved in multiple deployments earning numerous awards including the Naval Commendation Medal.

Todd Mitchell was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He has lived throughout the United States and overseas, and enjoys traveling across the globe.

Teaching has always been a part of Mr. Mitchell's life and the desire to bring excitement and passion to the chemistry classroom has been his calling. Mr. Mitchell strongly believes that literacy in science is just as important as literacy in mathematics and reading.


Gariann Wrenchy

Gariann Wrenchey
Kaiserslautern District Teacher of the Year
Landstuhl E/MS, Language Arts and AVID

Gariann Wrenchey is a Middle School English and AVID teacher at Landstuhl Elementary Middle School. She has been teaching 21 years and has worked in DoDEA eleven. Prior to LEMS, she served as the Kaiserslautern District ELA ISS, and as a language arts and social studies teacher in Bahrain and Sasebo, Japan. Mrs. Wrenchey is a life-long Pacific Northwesterner and began her teaching career in Marysville, Washington.

Mrs. Wrenchey earned her Master of Education Degree from the University of Washington and received her undergraduate degree at Eastern Washington University in Social Science Education with a minor in English.

Wrenchey believes in a student-centered classroom because she sees students as individuals. Through the use of exemplars, rubrics, and self- and peer-assessment, students are empowered to cognitively examine and defend the techniques they are using to improve their writing

Wrenchey and her husband are travel, reading, and cooking enthusiasts. They live in Rehweiler, Germany with their two cats; Dante and Beatrice.


Christopher Kaldahl

Christopher Kaldahl
Mediterranean District Teacher of the Year
Rota M/HS, Science

Mr. Christopher Kaldahl teaches Chemistry, Advanced Placement Chemistry and Advanced Placement Physics at Rota Middle/High School. A National Board Certified Teacher of Adolescent / Young Adult Science, he is in his fourth year of teaching in Rota. Immediately prior to joining DoDEA, Mr. Kaldahl taught Physics for nine years in Arlington (VA) public schools.

As a Charles Via Undergraduate Fellow of Civil Engineering, Kaldahl graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995. He began his teaching career in 1997 as a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps. He taught mathematics and physics in the Mississippi Delta while earning his Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi.

Mr. Kaldahl enjoys sharing his love of science with his students. An avid user of probe ware and technology in the classroom, Mr. Kaldahl believes that the best way for students to learn science is to do science.

He enjoys exploring sunny southern Spain with his wife and colleague, Karen, and their two daughters.

DoDEA Pacific

Denise SheedyDenise Sheedy
Guam District Teacher of the Year
Anderson ES, Kindergarten

Denise Sheedy is a kindergarten teacher at Andersen Elementary School where she has taught for one year. She has 19 years of teaching experience.

Sheedy holds a bachelor's degree in Education from Daemen College and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies from National-Louis University.

Sheedy's love for teaching started when she was in elementary school, staying after to help teachers grade papers, straighten their room and put up bulletin boards. This has shaped her main focus as an early childhood teacher to construct an environment that nurtures students to achieve and prepare them to be life-long learners. Sheedy says the classroom is the foundation of the child's education and it is important they have a love for learning and achieve the milestones needed to be successful in the next level of their schooling.

"Denise Sheedy is an exceptional representative of our of Guam District teachers," said Dr. Steven Bloom. "Denise is respected for her dedication, deep instructional knowledge and her commitment to guiding each student toward reaching their potential. Denise demonstrates the qualities we expect from a teacher of the year, and she is purposeful in her planning and inspirational in her teaching."


Catherine Mince

Catherine Mince
Japan District Teacher of the Year
Yokota MS, Social Studies

Catherine Mince is a social studies teacher at Yokota Middle School where she has taught for six years.

Mince holds a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish, a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Southern Arkansas University.

Mince's greatest contributions to education are her passion, innovation and progressivism. She is not afraid to take risks in the classroom to make a lesson come alive and become relevant to her students. Mince believes the class should be a place where it is safe to smile, laugh, and enjoy the educational process.

"Ms. Mince's students are her greatest accomplishments in education," said Yokota MS Principal Dr. Tonya Laliberte. "Her students, not just the children, are her legacy as an educator. She has been teaching for 18 years, and she has averaged 100 students per year which equates to more than 1,800 students directly impacted for the better."


Michael PerezMichael Perez
Korea District Teacher of the Year
Seoul ES, Music

Michael Perez is an elementary music education teacher at Seoul American Elementary School where he has taught for three years.

Perez holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music and Business from Central Washington University where he also earned his certificate of Education, Choral Music K-12.

Perez says his goal in teaching is to empower his students to be highly skilled instrumentalists with an understanding of their own unique character, having compassion for the players they will encounter along the way. His proudest accomplishment is seeing struggling students find success through music and performing arts. Knowing he has given a child an opportunity to be creative and expressive gives Perez a sense of fulfillment.

"Michael Perez is a dedicated, professional educator," said Korea District Superintendent Dr. Judith Allen. "He not only excels as a music teacher but has been very involved in continuous school improvement. As co-chair of the Continuous School Improvement team, he was instrumental in leading SAES to a highly successful AdvancED School Accreditation visit last school year. He is a pleasure to work with, and it is great having him in the Korea District."


Allyson Snowden

Allyson Snowden
Okinawa District Teacher of the Year
Kadena MS, Special Education

Allyson Snowden is a Special Education teacher at Kadena Middle School where she has taught for the past five years.

Snowden holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Science from the University of Maryland and Master of Arts in Teaching Educational Technology from National University La Jolla, California.

Building a bond with her students is an aspect of Snowden's teaching philosophy and classroom management repertoire that she works hard at accomplishing and maintaining. She shows the students that she cares and is interested in them as individuals, not just as her students. Students come first and, although very important, the standards, materials and strategies come second.

"Ms. Allyson Snowden is a multi-talented teacher and leader at Kadena MS," said Okinawa District Superintendent Mike Thompson. "She puts students and student learning first. As a military child herself, she knows the military family and can tailor her teaching to meet the needs of the students she teaches. As a staff leader, she steps forward and takes on many of the tasks that truly have to come together to make the school a community."

Kadena MS Principal Kristopher Kwiatek added, "Mrs. Snowden is well-deserving of this recognition. Dedicated, committed, and passionate about students is what comes to mind when I think about Mrs. Snowden. She brings life and energy to DoDEA and is an outstanding educator."