Department of Defense Education Activity

2017 Teachers of the Year

Kelisa WingKelisa Wing
GA/AL District Teacher of the Year, DoDEA Americas
Faith Middle School, 8th Grade Teacher

Kelisa Wing teaches 8th grade Language Arts and Reading to military children at Faith Middle School in Fort Benning, Georgia.  She passes her life's motto: "Pursue it and Do it: build your team to fulfill your dream" to her students. Wing believes that all students have the capacity to learn as long as educators meet them at their points of need.

Mrs. Wing created a non-profit organization called #Squad Up for Education, Inc., to empower parents, students, and educators to commit to become partners in education.  The goal is to never allow any child to fail by setting goals, developing a road map for future success, and working with the community to realize students' dreams. She also developed the Stop, Teach, Affect, Reach (S.T.A.R.) mentoring program in her school to assign every child an adult advocate.

She is a Toledo, Ohio native, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1999 as a Human Resource Specialist. She served six years and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Mrs. Wing credits the U.S. Army, along with her faith, for allowing her to realize her dream of becoming an educator.

She recently completed her second book, Weeds & Seeds: How To Stay Positive in the Midst of Life's Storms. Mrs. Wing holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from The University of Maryland University College, a Master of Arts in Secondary Education, and an Educational Specialist degree with a concentration in Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. She is currently enrolled with the University of Phoenix in the Doctor of Education program.

She is married with three children.

DoDEA Americas

Jessica ReagleJessica Reagle
NC-Camp Lejeune District Teacher of the Year
Brewster Middle School, 6-8th Grade Special Education

Mrs. Jessica Reagle graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Special Education with a minor in dance. She worked as an educational aide and substitute teacher at New Horizon School in Pennsylvania prior to moving to North Carolina to work at Swansboro Middle School in Onslow County.  In 2011, she began working for Department of Defense Education Activity at Camp Lejeune, NC.

Mrs. Reagle has taught sixth through eighth grade learning impaired, moderate to severe during her tenure at Brewster Middle School. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she has served as cheerleading coach, art club sponsor, and Project Unify point of contact and event coordinator. Mrs. Reagle strives to share the message of acceptance through showing the amazing things all students of all abilities are capable of achieving.

In her community, Mrs. Reagle has coached a multitude of Special Olympics sports for a total of twelve years and served for a number of years as the Special Olympics Local Coordinator in Swansboro, NC.  She enjoys planning fundraising events for organizations such as Special Olympics and Ainsley's Angels, including 5K Runs, Dance-A-Thons and benefit dance concerts.  She loves teaching her weekly therapeutic dance class she designed for students of all abilities at the dance studio she owns in her hometown.

"See the ABLE not the LABEL!"


Lisa ReedLisa Reed
SC/Ft. Stewart/Cuba District Teacher of the Year
Pinckney ES, 4th Grade Teacher

Lisa Reed is a 4th Grade Teacher at Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Elementary School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She has taught for fifteen years with DoDEA and one additional year with Jefferson County Public School District in Kentucky. While with DoDEA she has also worked in SHAPE, Belgium; Fort Knox, KY; Fort Benning, GA; and Fort Jackson, SC.  Mrs. Reed has taught first, third, fourth and fifth grades and spent 2 years as a middle school Educational Technologist.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, from Georgetown College, in 2001 and her Master degree in Curriculum and Technology Integration from University of Phoenix Online, in 2005.  Mrs. Reed completed her Educational Specialist degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri, in 2012.

As a wife of an active-duty soldier and mother of three children who attend DoDEA schools, Mrs. Reed is invested in DoDEA on multiple stakeholder levels.  Because of this, she believes that it is essential for teachers, parents, and students to work collaboratively to create a learning experience where each child will feel safe, loved, encouraged, and happy; because success naturally follows these elements.  She also believes educators must seek and give support to one another in order to create a strong and innovative network of education, because it still takes a village to raise a child.


Sonja RobertsSonja Roberts
KY District Teacher of the Year
Van Voorhis ES, Kindergarten Teacher

Sonja Roberts began her teaching career for DoDEA in 1987, for Fort Knox Community Schools. During her 28 years, she has taught first through third grade and is currently teaching Kindergarten at Van Voorhis.

Mrs. Roberts earned her Cum Laude Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a Kindergarten endorsement from University of Louisville.  She continued her education attending Western Kentucky University to receive a Masters and Rank I in Elementary Counseling. She is a lifelong learner and is currently taking higher education courses through University of San Diego.

Her goal is to establish a welcoming, nurturing, safe and productive classroom community that best fits the diverse needs and interests of 21st century students. She believes educators should involve students in solving authentic problems, working with others, and building real-world solutions through inquiry-based instruction, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematical challenges, and project based learning in order for students to achieve their highest potential.

Sonja is married and has a son and daughter.  The Roberts' family enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.


Kelly SearsKelly Sears
NC-Fort Bragg District Teacher of the Year
Hampton PS, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Kelly Sears is a Prekindergarten teacher at Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg, NC.  She is currently in her twenty-second year with Fort Bragg Schools.

Ms. Sears received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Fayetteville State University.

Ms. Sears knew she wanted to be a teacher since the third grade, when her teacher made learning "fun and exciting!"  She vowed to do the same for her own students one day. That day came in 1994 when she joined the brand new Prekindergarten program at Fort Bragg Schools. Ms. Sears believes that Pre K is a fundamental part of one's early success in school.  Ms. Sears enjoys being a child's "first teacher" in the school setting and laying the foundation for learning in a developmentally appropriate setting.  21st Century skills are evident in Ms. Sears' learning studio.  Students collaborate and work together in engaging centers that promote problem solving, critical thinking skills, and positive social interactions in a child centered environment.

Ms. Sears loves working with military families from all over the world and welcoming them to her native state! Ms. Sears enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, decorating, playing sports, and cheering for her beloved "UNC Tar Heels!"


Carmen VerayCarmen Veray
NY/VA/PR District Teacher of the Year
Antilles MS, Special Education Teacher

Carmen (Menchi) Veray is a 25 years veteran Special Educator at Antilles Middle School in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.  Before coming to DoDEA, she taught 8 years at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Veray was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  She graduated from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Special Education.  She also holds a Master's in Education in Special Education in Emotional Disturbances from New York University, N.Y.

As a special education teacher, one of my greatest contributions and accomplishments has been to assist my students to have a strong desire to succeed in school, to believe in what they are capable of, and to begin to dream of what they will become in life in spite of their disability. From a teacher leader's perspective some of my greatest contributions are to be willing and able to collaborate with my colleagues in and out of the classroom by promoting an honest and productive dialogue that benefits all students.  I have also advocated for necessary changes in our school culture regarding special education issues. The success of such an endeavor depended on establishing credibility and trust among my colleagues.  It has always been my vision to extend beyond my own classroom.

Community involvement has been a crucial component in my career.  By being in constant dialogue and collaboration in my community, not only have I become a better human being but these experiences have helped me to become a better educator. After thirty-three years, I am still enthusiastic and committed to my profession and my students.  I am aware of the influence we can have in a child's life.  For this reason, I cannot spare any effort to develop their intellect as well as their character and life skills so that; they become responsible citizens with options in the future.  

DoDEA Europe

Randi DaltonRandi Dalton
Isles District Teacher of the Year
Liberty IS, Gifted Education Teacher

Mrs. Dalton is the Gifted/ STEM Teacher and Enrichment Coordinator at Liberty Intermediate in England.  She received a BSE in Elementary Education, a Masters in Instructional Design and Technology, a Masters in Special Education/Gifted, certification in ESL, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D.  Randi has won numerous grants, awards, and honors including the 2015 Gilder Lehrman DoDEA History Teacher of the Year. She has presented workshops at the local, regional, national, and international level in multiple states and countries.

Outside of DoDEA, Randi taught in Africa and America, was a contracted assistant ecology instructor for field trip courses, and a science consultant for a Toyota Tapestry/NSTA supported project.  Her extensive volunteer work has mostly centered around education, animals, or both and has included work with Scout troops, animal shelters, adult literacy tutoring, summer camps, and zoos.

Randi has served as the Project Coordinator for WWI and WWII Museum Projects which involved multi-day hands-on history lessons with British historians and students and culminated in student-created, professionally-produced which toured the United Kingdom and were viewed by thousands.  Another project linked her students with professional engineers and historians.  Those students helped to field test a virtual history tour application, now available on itunes. She collaborates with classroom teachers, specialists, parents, and military and British experts.  In addition to full-time teaching, Randi's agenda for this year includes over a dozen competitions, clubs, and workshops, robotics, and a student-created movie complete with commercials.

Her goal is to inspire students to be lifelong learners.


Richard DysingerRichard Dysinger, Ed.D. 
Kaiserslautern District Teacher of the Year
Ramstein IS, 5th Grade Teacher

A genuine 'teacher of DODEA', Richard Dysinger has spent every minute of his career in a DOD classroom from substitute and student teaching to classroom and specialist work across two theaters.  Currently a fifth-grade instructor at Ramstein Intermediate in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Rich spent two years supporting the military community in Heidelberg at Patrick Henry Elementary and five years as a classroom teacher and Educational Technologist at Matthew C. Perry Elementary in Iwakuni, Japan, his adopted hometown.

Dr. Dysinger holds a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology with a biological emphasis from the University of California at Davis, which is his go-to Jeopardy category. He also holds a Master's Degree in Elementary Education from Plymouth State University (Go Panthers!), and a second Master's Degree in Educational Technology from San Diego State University (Go Aztecs Warriors!).  Recently Rich was awarded a Doctorate of Education from Durham University in the United Kingdom in Applied Educational Research with a technology focus.

With a preference for social learning, Dr. Dysinger believes that the focus of our instructional efforts must be to promote and nurture critical thinking skills through open discussions and peer collaboration. Educators should also strive to create a risk-taking environment where kids view failure or mistakes as a vital component of the journey rather than an endpoint.

A proud father of an active five-year-old named Logan, Rich love/hates the gym and has a passion for writing of all styles, including internet bios.  With his wife Billie, a fellow teacher, they appreciate live music, travel, and spending time with their extended DoDDs family.


Nicole HoffNicole Hoff
Mediterranean District Teacher of the Year
Vicenza ES, Art Teacher

Mrs. Hoff is a K-5 Art Teacher at Vicenza Elementary School.  She has taught art at every grade level from Kindergarten - 12th grade during her eight years teaching for DoDEA.  Mrs. Hoff earned her Master's Degree in Art Education from New York University and her Bachelor's Degree in Cultural Arts and Education from The Evergreen State College.

Mrs. Hoff is passionate about creating a student centered environment in her classroom where students are challenged to be creative problem solvers and to use 21st Century tools and techniques to express their unique ideas and talents.  Mrs. Hoff's classroom is a hands-on, minds-on, learning workshop where education is an action sport - students get their hands dirty and they love every minute of it.  She is committed to building a classroom culture and a school community where every single student can be successful.  She is also committed to her leadership roles within her professional community and believes in the power of professional development through cooperative learning teams.

"In her own thoughtful and positive way, she has helped change the culture of our school and has made it a better place for children," said VES Principal Allison Peltz.  "Nicole Hoff will make an outstanding role model for other teachers.  She personifies all the attributes of a great teacher.  She is passionate about her profession, extremely articulate, energetic, and highly capable."


Dr. Patricia McDonaldPatricia McDonald, Ph.D. 
Bavaria District Teacher of the Year
Robinson Barracks ES, Kindergarten Teacher

Patricia McDonald currently teaches Kindergarten at Robinson Barracks Elementary School in Stuttgart, Germany. She began her teaching career in North Carolina, and as a military spouse has had the opportunity to teach in various schools in several states over the past 20 years, with five of those years working for DoDEA.

Dr. McDonald earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Northeastern University and a Master of Education in Administration from Cleveland State University. She received her Ph.D. in Education from Walden University, and is certified in Elementary Education K-8. She consistently advocates for developmentally appropriate practices within standardized curriculum, and has a strong interest in integrating theory into real world situations to solve problems. As a former DoDEA student, she understands the importance of teachers knowing and understanding their students, as well as setting high expectations within a child centered/teacher directed environment.

Dr. McDonald is married to a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major. They have three daughters, with whom they enjoy movie nights at home, traveling to new and familiar places, and spending summer nights at the beach.

DoDEA Pacific

Denise ChargualafDenise Chargualaf
Guam District Teacher of the Year
Guam HS, Chemistry Teacher

Denise Chargualaf is a science teacher at Guam High School.  She is currently teaching chemistry and biology at Guam High School where she has been for the past 10 years.  Prior to her tenure with the Department of Defense Education Activity, she taught in Guam Department of Education schools for 6 years.

Mrs. Chargualaf holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Marquette University and a Masters of Education with a specialization in School Administration and Supervision from the University of Guam.

"Education has always had a strong presence in my life," said Chargualaf. "My love for teaching started when I was young, helping my mother who was a Special Education teacher." Chargualaf added that she has, "always had a strong liking for the sciences.  I want to make science a meaningful part of all students' educational program and bridge their classroom experiences with real world applications to foster students' success in the future."

Mrs. Chargualaf has a strong belief that giving back to the community helps create a whole sense of self and as a teacher, she models this by being involved in the Guam community and providing opportunities for her students to do the same.  This includes working with local charitable organizations, the Armed Services Blood Program, and as being an officer in the Guam Army National Guard Medical Detachment.

Mrs. Chargualaf loves teaching and is committed to advising student groups, which helps to forge lasting relationships with students by being able to guide and mentor them.  She is viewed as a problem-solver, innovator and dynamic member of the GHS science department.


Ronald CoiaRonald Coia
Okinawa District Teacher of the Year
Kubasaki HS, English and Social Studies Teacher

Ron Coia teaches AP English Language and  AP Government at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan. He has been in DoDEA since 2004, stationed in Korea, Germany, and now Japan. Before moving overseas, he taught in both alternative and suburban schools in Portland, Oregon.

Ron first worked with overseas military youth while serving in Germany with the Air Force, volunteering with a chapel youth program. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Multnomah University in Portland and a Masters of Arts degree at Boston University.

Mr. Coia has worked with the full spectrum of students: from troubled students with behavior issues to the middle-of-the-road kids to the top-performers and valedictorians of the school. This has instilled in him that no matter the background, students need a good teacher who can show them the power of words.

Ron lives in Okinawa with his wife Kristie and their three children.


Ben KolodziejBen Kolodziej
Japan District Teacher of the Year
Arne ES, Gifted Teacher, K-6

Benjamin Kolodziej is the Gifted Education teacher at John O. Arnn Elementary School in Zama, Japan.  He has been teaching for 11 years, five of them within DoDEA.  Before his arrival in Japan, he was the GE teacher at Kingsolver Elementary in Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

Mr. Kolodziej graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a Master's degree in Elementary Education, and was later certified in Gifted Education.  He is originally from Ewing, New Jersey.

At Arnn Elementary, Mr. Kolodziej challenges all students to use critical and creative thinking skills more readily in their learning.  He has forged numerous school partnerships with PTO, Camp Zama military units, and the Japanese Space Exploration Agency.  He is also a proud husband and father of three.


Tracey Van De VeireTracey Van De Veire
Korea District Teacher of the Year
Seoul American HS, Moderate/Severe Special Education Teacher

Tracey Van De Veire is the Learning Impaired Moderate to Severe-Severe to Profound teacher at Seoul American High School on the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea.  She has eight years of teaching experience and five years with DoDEA.

Mrs. Van De Veire received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Exceptional Student Education, Cum Laude from Florida Atlantic University, a Master of Arts Degree in Exceptional Student Education, Cum Laude and the Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate and Endorsement from University of Central Florida. She also earned a Master of Science Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a focus on Technology and Leadership, Summa Cum Laude and a Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Leadership from Buffalo State University.  She is professionally certified in 13 categories of Special Education and as a School Educational Technologist.

"Tracey possesses the ability to access and analyze information, and she has the curiosity and imagination to keep all students moving towards our school vision of "Students Prepared for Success," said Seoul American High School Principal, Donald T. Williams Jr. (Willy).  "Mrs. Van De Veire is an uncompromising advocate for high student achievement for all students and accepts nothing less from her students."

Mrs. Van De Veire believes that the rewards of teaching are the success of her students.  Her students have had the opportunity to learn the full extent of using Google Apps for Education, learning to Code with the Hour of Code and Blogging within her classroom.  She also provides her students many opportunities to learn life and job skills in a variety of vocational settings within the Yongsan Garrison.

Mrs. Van De Veire is married to a retired U.S. Army officer and they have 4 children and 1 grandchild.  She enjoys traveling, photography, exercising and also volunteering with her husband each weekend at the Bowling alley with Korean children as well as serving the soldiers on the Yongsan Garrison at the USO in Seoul.