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2008 Teacher of the Year

2008 winner, Cathleen Marziali

Cathleen Marziali
Mediterranean District Teacher of The Year, DoDEA Europe
Naples ES

2008 Teacher of the Year, Cathleen Marziali gives a brief speech on education and her teaching philosophy.

Ms. Marziali has 20 years teaching experience and has taught at Naples Elementary School since 2004. Prior to joining DoDEA schools, Ms. Marziali taught second grade at Huron Elementary School, Huron, Calif.; Kindergarten at Lemoore Elementary School District, Lemoore, Calif.; Adult ESL, Learning Director, and Special Programs Administrator at Laton Unified School District in Laton, Calif.; and Special Programs Administrator at Kings County Office of Education Hanford, Calif. She is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, with Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. She received her teaching credential from Chapman University and went on to earn her master's Degree in Educational Administration from Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif.

Ms. Marziali shares how each year as a teacher, she has the privilege of witnessing an annual transformation; that of her students. She prepares a very special diet for them to feast on; one containing standards-based instruction, problem-solving skills, and on-going assessments, like the DRA, that inform her instruction. As one parent shares, "Remarkably, Ms. Marziali is able to tailor the academic growth of each student so that his/her personal journey is optimized. Tell her that you are going to Florence and she'll hand you directions for a scavenger hunt in which your child finds the hidden Michelangelo self-portrait in the city's main piazza. Then when your child brings the photo to school for 'show and tell', she will post it in the classroom."

DoDEA Americas

2008 winner, Margaret KogerMargaret Koger
Georgia / Alabama District Teacher of The Year
Gifted Education

Ms. Koger has 22 years of teaching experience and for the past 8 years, she has taught Gifted Education. She has taught in DoDEA schools since 1990, with assignments at Fort Benning's Dexter Elementary School, Wilson Elementary School and McBride/Lloyd Elementary Schools. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Koger taught at the Chattahoochee County Department of Education, teaching 3d, 4th and 5th grade. She is a 1984 graduate of Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, with a Bachelor of Science in Education (Middle Grades). She earned her Master's Degree in Education (Middle Grades), from Columbus State University in 1990 and a Specialist in Education from Troy State University in 1995. In 1999, she received her certification in Gifted Education from Columbus State University and in 2004 a Reading Specialist Certification also from Columbus State University.

Ms. Koger firmly believes that educators need to align what we teach and how we teach with the needs of our 21st century students. The 21st century requires not only a high-level of proficiency in the traditional academic subjects, but also skills that are unique to this century. To be successful, our youth needs to think, communicate, and interact with digital age proficiencies. As a colleague states, "Ms. Koger awakens wonder in her students. She challenges them to push themselves toward even greater achievement and new goals. She encourages them to fulfill their potential."

2008 winner, Mary Perez Williams Mary Perez Williams
Guam District Teacher of The Year
Andersen MS, Math and Social Studies

Mrs. Williams has 17 years of teaching experience and for the past 10 years has been with DoDEA schools (Andersen Middle School) teaching mathematics and social studies. Prior to joining DoDEA, Ms. Williams taught Algebra at George Washington High School and the Academy of Our Lady of Guam. She is a graduate of the University of Guam, having earned her Bachelors'of Arts in Secondary Education and General Social Science. She received her Master's of Educational Administration and Supervision in 1994 from the University of Guam and a Master's of Education Leadership Degree from the University of Portland in 2003.

Mrs. Williams has a vision that all students will succeed. Those students will be self-motivated team players who perform with a passion. To achieve this, teachers need to develop a community of competent educational leaders willing to inspire and have expectations that all students will succeed. Mrs. Williams'principal writes, "She has created programs within her classroom that differentiate instruction for a wide range of student abilities and this has greatly increased student achievement across the curriculum. Mrs. Williams has established a warm, nurturing classroom environment where students are the center of teaching and learning."

2008 winner, Stephanie RabyStephanie Raby
Kentucky District Teacher of The Year
Fort Rucker PS, 2nd Grade

Mrs. Raby has 10 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools since 2003, with assignments as a second grade teacher at Fort Rucker Primary School, Fort Rucker, Alabama; as a Learning Impaired Special Education Teacher and Literacy Facilitator in Korea at Osan American Elementary and Humphreys American Elementary Schools; is currently a third grade teacher at Barkley Elementary School at Fort Campbell, KY. She is a graduate of Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn., with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Human Growth and Learning; Early Childhood Special Education and Special Education Modified and Comprehensive.

Mrs. Raby believes students need strong, engaging hands-on lessons to keep their minds focused and involved in learning. Students need empathy, concern, understanding, and most of all support and respect. That family atmosphere is needed right here, right now, at every school. Her principal states, "Her remarkable and contagious enthusiasm for student learning leaves every student "a winner" in her room and every teacher inspired to take risks by trying new teaching strategies."

2008 winner, Iliada SierraIliada Sierra
New York / Virginia / Puerto Rico District Teacher of The Year
Antilies MS, Math and Science

Ms. Sierra has 35 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools for 20 years. In addition to her present assignment at Antilles High School, she taught science and Math at Antilles Middle School at Fort Buchanan. She began her teaching career as a biology teacher at Albizu Campos Hight School in Levittown, Puerto Rico and went on to become a Spanish Resource Teacher at Westminster Elementary School in Colorado. She also taught science at Ramey School. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master's Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix.

Ms. Sierra believes that teaching is a profession of passion - passion for the act of teaching, passion for what is being taught. It is never a job, nor a career, but certainly a calling. A former student shares, "It was in her class that I realized the beauty of a subject that is continually expanding in knowledge. It was during her course that I decided to study biology, to become a researcher, and it was Ms. Sierra who pointed me in the right direction. I suspect throughout the years she has touched many students lives, be it by giving them the only glimpse of biology that they will most likely ever obtain or by brightening up their lives with her eccentric enthusiasm."

2008 winner, Ellie MicklosEllie Micklos
North Carolina / Fort Stewart District Teacher of The Year

Mrs. Micklos has 27 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools for 20 years, with assignments in the Azores as a third grade teacher and in Korea as a Remedial Language Arts teacher, a fifth grade teacher, and as a staff developer, school improvement and assessment administrator. She has also taught second, third and fourth grades at Fort Bragg's Bowley and Butner Schools. Prior to joining DoDEA schools, Mrs. Micklos taught kindergarten, third and fourth grades at Achilles Elementary School in Gloucester, Va. She is a graduate of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and she received her Master's Degree in Elementary Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Mrs. Micklos believes that preparing children for the future is not done by merely teaching reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. "Children come to us with more than just educational needs, and we are challenged to address all their needs. In other words, we should educate and nurture the "whole" child." A parent of a former student states, "Mrs. Micklos had a great way of keeping the children focused and excited; she always demanded respect and gave it in return. Mrs. Micklos's creative assignments, teaching style, and caring attitude always challenged and rewarded each child."

2008 winner, Michelle HrabanekMichelle Hrabanek
South Carolina / Fort Stewart District Teacher of The Year
Bolden ES, PE

Mrs. Hrabanek has 13 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools for 7 years as a third-sixth grade health and physical education teacher at Bolden Elementary School. Prior to joining DoDEA schools, she taught health and physical education at Lady's Island Middle School. She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education. She received her Masters of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Wheelock College.

Mrs. Hrabanek firmly believes in healthy minds, healthy bodies. In order to change our children's attitudes about fitness, it is up to educators, and we must start now. Life-long health must be taught at every grade level by highly qualified educators. A colleague states, "Using her health background coupled with her personal experience, Michelle has developed inspiring lessons for her students with disabilities. The heart of the matter is that she goes beyond the call of duty as a mom, co-worker, and community advocate and especially as an educator of our young people."

DoDEA Europe

2008 winner, CourtneySkellyCourtney Skelly
Heidelberg District Teacher of The Year
Mannheim ES, 2nd & 3rd grades

Mrs. Skelly has seven years of teaching experience and for the past six years has been with DoDEA schools, teaching second and third grade at Mannheim Elementary School. She is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree and a Master's of Science Degree in Education. She has earned a Certification in in Gifted Education from the University of Missouri and a Certification in Reading and Language Arts from the University of Maryland.

Mrs. Skelly firmly believes that we need to turn our schools around and again make them academically challenging, secure, and cultivating. To accomplish this goal she feels educators must have a vision in which they start at the core of their school and work outward. When an entire school staff has an image of what their school could be, and begins working closely together, the vision becomes clearer. A parent of a former student shares this insight. "Some teachers can be experts in their subject matter, others can be extremely amiable, but few can put it all together and are able to inspire a love for learning. Mrs. Skelly is one such teacher."

2008 winner, Maggie DetchonMaggie Detchon
Isles District Teacher of The Year
Liberty Intermediate School, Special Education

Dr. Detchon has 31 years teaching experience and for the past 7 years has been a Special Education Teacher at Liberty Intermediate School. She has been with DoDEA schools since 1986, with assignments in England and Scotland at Edzell Elementary/Middle School, Chicksands Elementary/Middle School, Feltwell Elementary School and now at Liberty Intermediate School. Prior to joining DoDEA schools, Mrs. Detchon taught in a variety of capacities in Scotland, Spain, Florida and West Africa. She is a graduate of Robert Gordons University in Scotland and he earned a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Maryland and a Doctorate of Education from Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Detchon advocates that teachers have it within their power to inspire and empower their charges to reach high expectations. Rapidly changing technologies and increasing diversity must be met with robust commitment to expand existing repertoires. Teachers must look to their willingness to change and embrace upcoming challenges. A colleague states, "She has perfected the art of using best instructional practices with unique approaches to stimulate and motivate children. Her high expectations, combined with a rare understanding of special needs, make a difference in children's lives."

2008 winner, Shannon O'Dell Shannon O'Dell
Kaiserslautern District Teacher of The Year

Ms. O'Dell has 8 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools since 2003 in kindergarten and third grade as well as Reading Compensatory Education and Reading Recovery. She is a graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She received her certification in Reading Recovery from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and is currently working on her Master's Degree in Education in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Maryland University College.

Ms. O'Dell firmly believes that a strong school-home partnership sets the stage for high student achievement. By involving parents from looking at and interpreting assessment data, to assisting with homework, we work together to provide the foundation that will foster the highest student achievement. Her principal states, "Her enthusiasm for teaching and learning is contagious and permeates throughout the school. She continually goes the extra mile for our entire learning community and exemplifies the very best in education."

DoDEA Pacific

2008 winner, Richardson, StephanieStephanie Richardson
Japan District Teacher of The Year

Ms. Richardson has 15 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools since 2003. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Oriental and African Languages and Literature, and concentration in Japanese. She received her teaching certification from the University of Illinois at Springfield and anticipates receiving her Master's of Education Degree in Educational Technology in the summer of 2008, from Michigan State University. Prior to teaching in DoDEA schools, Ms. Richardson taught special education at Manor Middle School in Manor, Texas and at history at New Braunfels Middle School in New Braunfels, Texas. She also taught Academic and Advanced U.S. History, Government and Economics at Clements High School in Sugarland, Texas.

Ms. Richardson's message is "Think of the Possibilities". Every day teachers interact with, affect, and are affected by millions of students, making and strengthening connections that will last a lifetime, including some connections that might not be immediately apparent. Think of the possibilities - education, DoDDS, our schools - these are vast resources where anything is possible. Her principal states, "It takes a special kind of teacher to both realize there is something missing and to have the wherewithal to know exactly what is needed to remedy the situation."

2008 winner, Aimee GuignonAimee Guignon
Korea District Teacher of The Year

Ms. Guignon has 13 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools since 1997. In addition to her present assignment, she has had assignments in DoDEA schools as a Gifted Resource Teacher at Berkeley Manor Elementary School at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and again at Seoul American Elementary School as a Gifted Resource Teacher from 1997-2000. She is a graduate of Widener University in Chester, Pa., with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Specialty in Gifted Education and is also a graduate of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., with a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Psychology. She is currently working on her Doctorate from Walden Unversity in Minneapolis, Minn.

Ms. Guignon advocates collegiality among all shareholders in the education of our students. Each shareholder has unique and wonderful contributions to make as educators, allowing teachers to be life long learners. If we all work together as a community, our children will receive the needed education to become not only successful at their own profession but also productive community members. A parent of one of her students shares, "Ms. Guignon is dedicated to the development of social as well as intellectual skills of her students. In order to facilitate relationships and friendships, Ms Guignon regularly allows her students to join her for lunch. I truly know of no other teacher who sacrifices her time with her colleagues to provide a time for social interaction and camaraderie among her students."

2008 winner, Finney VeronicaVeronica Finney
Okinawa District Teacher of The Year
Bechtel ES, 4th Grade

Mrs. Finney has 12 years teaching experience and has taught in DoDEA schools for 6 years, as a third second and fourth grade teacher at Bechtel Elementary School in Okinawa. She has also taught intermediate Kindergarten and first grade at Okinawa Christian School International. She has attended professional development graduate courses at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and taken graduate courses in reading comprehension at Ottawa University, in science at the University of San Diego, and in technology at San Diego State University.

Mrs. Finney believes that the strongest link in the teaching profession is the link between the parent and the teacher. The tie that binds the teacher and the parent is the student. A former student shares, "She understood that everyone learns differently and would take the time to teach a subject many different ways so everyone could learn. The best part about Ms. Finney to me, was that she kept paying attention to us. She learned our personalities and what was the best way to talk to us. She treated us like people not children. She respected us and expected us to respect each other and her."