DoDEA-Europe West District Earns 2021 ‘System of Distinction Award’


The Cognia Engagement Review Team validated our hard work on Continuous Improvement in Europe West District and our schools

SEMBACH, GERMANY — December 1, 2021 — DoDEA-Europe West District was 1 of 80 institutes out of 1,233 Engagement Reviews conducted in 2020-2021 recently recognized with a 2021 Cognia System of Distinction Award. The award recognizes the district’s pursuit of continuous improvement demonstrated during their 2020–21 Accreditation Engagement Review. 

“In the past three years, our Europe West school staff, Administrators, Instructional Systems Specialists, parents, and military commands have focused on common professional learning experiences, coherence and shared leadership for Continuous Improvement,” said DoDEA-Europe West District Superintendent Kent Worford.

Cognia is the accreditation organization for all DoDEA schools, serving more than 30,000 public and private schools across the United States and more than 70 countries. The Schools of Distinction award recognizes schools and systems that truly stand out in their service to learners. Many members of the Cognia Global Network seek accreditation from Cognia, which is earned as the result of extensive internal preparation and a review by a team of outside educators. Once an institution is accredited, it engages in similar preparation and review every five years to maintain that designation.

“The Cognia Engagement Review Team validated our hard work on Continuous Improvement in Europe West District and our schools. Over the past three years, we have embraced our "Theory of Action" around district organizational goals: Focused Collaboration, College and Career Readiness Standards, and The Learning Walkthrough Tool, from beginnings and implementation toward Results, Sustainability, and Embeddedness, defined by Cognia’s i3 Rubric. We raised the bar from our three organizational goals to refined targeted math/ literacy goals and strategies, developing processes to support the needs of every student, every day, everywhere in Europe West. I could not be prouder of our district staff, leadership, military partnerships and educators in every school whose hard work has made this part of our journey so very successful,” said DoDEA-Europe West District Superintendent Kent Worford.

The list of the institutions receiving this honor can be found here on 

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for school-age children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the United States that serve children of military families.

Supplemental Quotes from DoDEA-Europe West District:

Jennifer Mench, science teacher at Spangdahlem Middle School, added, “Every DoDEA Europe West teacher takes DoDEA’s Mission very seriously. Through our College and Career Readiness Standards, the use of innovative teaching strategies, and the incorporation of technology and our 21st Century learning environments, we are preparing students for a world we can only imagine. This became very clear to us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff and leadership have worked harder than ever before in the past two years and have adapted quickly to ensure our students are equipped to move into the future, be that the next grade, the next school, college, the military, or a career.”

Sandra Whitaker, Ph.D. Principal at SHAPE American High School also added, “Through the accreditation process we are afforded an opportunity to showcase our school’s commitment to continuous improvement and the strategies we employ to positively affect highest student achievement. The pandemic has only strengthened our resolve to adapt based on student need, to innovate for continued growth, and to elevate education as a whole. We are proud of our school’s growth as we provide excellence in education for our military-connected students.”  

“Europe West has worked diligently to create systems that focus on student achievement and increasing shared leadership from all stakeholders.  Communication and collaboration across the district have increased effectiveness and improved outcomes for students, teachers, and schools,” shared Ms. Colleen English, Principal, Lakenheath Elementary School.

“Technology, flexibility, innovation, and the unwavering support of our military command partners and parents led our district, our schools, our teachers and students through our Engagement Review, highlighting the resilience of our district and stakeholders in refining a system of excellence in education. Recognition from Cognia is a confirmation of our efforts to implement formalized sustainable systems that reflect DoDEA’s Blueprint for Continuous Improvement to ensure success for military connected students,” said Instructional Systems Specialists (ISS), Rene Schofield, (AVID), Dr. Jennifer Simmons (6-12 ELA), and Dr. Joshua Zola (Psychology & Section 504).

Dr. Courtney Stewart, Assessment & Accountability ISS said, “In DoDEA Europe West, we are excited to carry on with the essential work of continual improvement within our schools by both sustaining where we are succeeding and monitoring where we need to change. The accreditation process provides for us a path and a plan in moving forward as it becomes embedded in the way we operate.”