DoDEA Americas Announces 2023 District Teachers of the Year

PEACHTREE CITY, GEORGIA — March 17, 2022 — The Department of Defense Education Activity is pleased to announce Americas 2023 District Teachers of the Year. Congratulations to these two educators who are now in the running for DoDEA Teacher of the Year.

DoDEA Americas Mid-Atlantic District

Jennifer Lubba, Gordon Elementary School 

Jennifer LubbaAs a lifelong learner and teacher leader, Jennifer Lubba strives to connect and support teachers and stakeholders in accordance with DoDEA’s mission to educate, engage and empower military-connected students to succeed in a dynamic world. She fosters a collaborative culture that results in creating a sense of trust and shared responsibility for Gordon elementary students. She advocates for students through researched based practice, data mining conversations, and building and maintaining positive relationships. Her belief that education is a collective effort to increase student achievement is apparent in her multifaceted role at Gordon Elementary School where she enthusiastically empowers teachers and students to make change happen. 

Jennifer Lubba, military spouse and proud mother of three, is a native of Buffalo, New York. She completed her undergraduate degree at Buffalo State College in urban and regional planning with a geography minor and a focus on environmental studies. While at Buffalo State, she was selected for the National Exchange Program where she completed one semester of environmental and geography studies at Texas State University. Following her exchange, she completed internships in environmental and sustainable planning services. Her passion to educate and empower the future leaders of our world sparked her desire to pursue her master's degree, including initial teaching certification at Buffalo State College. 

Her military-connected life caused her to move from New York and complete her student teaching at Colonel Johnston Elementary School, Fort Huachuca, Arizona where she was then hired in 2010 as a full-time kindergarten teacher, acquired multiple leadership roles and was nominated for Cochise County Project of the year. As a military spouse, her family moved to Fort Bragg, North Caroline where she experienced the joy of volunteering in her daughter's kindergarten classroom prior to being hired for a full-time kindergarten teaching position in 2014 at Gordon Elementary School, where she was recognized for her teaching practices, collaborative relationships and leadership qualities. 

Shortly thereafter, she received her education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University in 2016 and secured the math school support specialist teaching position as well as the STEM coordinator position at Gordon. She currently serves as the Continuous School Improvement chairperson, Focused Collaboration facilitator, STEM and math committee member, intervention and assessment team member, and Green Team leader. She is passionate about science, technology, engineering and math, as well as problem-based learning experiences and employing hands-on instructional approaches in the context of real-world situations.
While she celebrates her achievements as a district recognized educator and school leader, she continues to reflect and refine her instruction. As a pursuer of knowledge, she strives to bring the best practices to teachers, students and stakeholders. Her goal is to continue to use collaboration and innovation as tools to keep students at the heart of what we do and to prepare them to be active citizens in our world. 

DoDEA Americas Southeast District

Laura Alvarez, Fort Knox Middle High School

Laura AlvarezLaura Alvarez, language arts and drama teacher at Fort Knox Middle High School at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, has been selected as the 2023 Southeast District Teacher of the Year. 

“Dr. Laura Alvarez is a secondary teacher who models excellence in instruction. She engages students in authentic and meaningful tasks that challenge them to grow and excel at high levels of rigor. Each time I visit her classroom, I observe students articulating their learning goals, engaging in classroom discourse to build on their understanding and respectfully acknowledging differences in thoughts and opinions,” said Christy Huddleston, the Department of Defense Education Activity Southeast District superintendent. “Not only is she a teacher of excellence in the classroom, but she also is a teacher leader who was recognized for her class making significant gains on the DoDEA College and Career Ready Summative assessment last year during the pandemic. Although her classroom switched to remote learning on several occasions last year, her dedication to students never wavered, and their academic progress soared. She is dedicated, compassionate, intentional and encourages each student to reach their greatest potential.”

Alvarez is a veteran educator with 18 years in education. Alvarez firmly believes in making strong bonds with students to establish trust, thereby ensuring high quality 21st-century learning 

She has been a teacher at Ft. Knox Middle High School since 2017. During her tenure, she’s held numerous positions, such as senior class sponsor, student activities director, English department chair, site literacy leader and Professional Learning Community Facilitation committee chair. She also is a member of the Continuous School Improvement committee. Prior to joining DoDEA in Kentucky, she worked at DoDEA’s Antilles High School in Puerto Rico as a special education technician, long-term substitute and varsity cheerleading coach. 

Lonnie Gilmore, the principal at Ft. Knox Middle High School describes Alvarez as, “An excellent leader with a ‘can do’ attitude. She is the type of teacher that looks at a problem and approaches it as what needs to be done, how can I get it done, and by the way, here are a few examples of what we can do to fix it.” Gilmore values the experience she brings to the classroom. “Alvarez possesses the qualities and attributes of a seasoned educator. She assesses students on a regular basis and uses the data from those assessments to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. She has a practice in place where she uses grouping strategies and tier one activities to provide interventions as needed. This not only allows a framework for her to assess students, but it also builds the capacity for students to strengthen skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking — all of which are 21st century skills,” he said.

Prior to coming to DoDEA, Alvarez was a kindergarten through eighth grade math specialist and a kindergarten, first and third grade teacher in Florida public schools.

Alvarez earned her bachelor’s degree in child development and family sciences from Florida State University, a master’s in educational leadership from Stetson University and her doctorate in educational and organizational leadership from University of Florida.

Josh Adams, the Department of Defense Education Activity Kentucky community superintendent, also recognized Alvarez for her school-based contributions. “Dr. Alvarez is a dedicated and determined member of the FKMHS team. She provides great instruction to her students and also supports the school in various roles. We are so proud to have her represent us as our teacher of the year!”

About DoDEA’s Teacher of the Year Program

DoDEA’s Teacher of the Year Program recognizes teachers for their dedication and contributions to the lives of military connected children. The program encourages and develops teachers to be educational leaders.

Each District Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel using specified criteria. Eight teachers, one per district, are named District Teacher of the Year; those teachers then are invited to apply for the DoDEA Teacher of the Year. Learn more about the program.

About DoDEA Americas

DoDEA Americas operates 50 schools in seven states, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. There are two school districts and about 1,835 teachers and 550 educational aides. School locations include Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Jackson, South, Carolina; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; Marine Corps Air Station Quantico, Virginia; Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Virginia; and U.S. Army Garrison West Point, New York.