Americas Mid-Atlantic District
Teacher of the Year
As a cultivator of curiosity Kara Ball uses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and project based learning (PBL) to transform her elementary students into the leaders of tomorrow. Currently teaching military-connected students at Camp Lejeune for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), Kara has also taught special education, multi-age, advanced mathematics, and in communities with high homeless and English as a Second Language (ESL) populations.
Ms. Ball implemented and organized an annual STEM carnival which draws over 650 parents, students, and community leaders annually. She has served as a Mentor Teacher for eight years, District STEM coordinator, and U.S Naval Academy SET Sail STEM Team Leader. She is a member of DoDEA’s Strategic Planning Committee and her school’s Continuous School Improvement Team. Kara has spoken professionally on “3D Printing”, “Primary Robotics”, “Code for Kids”, “Building Math Masters”, “Digital Planetarium”, and “Cardboard Arcade.” She is a Level 1 Google Educator and Carnegie Mellon LEGO Robotics Instructor. She has served as Head Coach for Girls on the Run (GOTR) as well as editor and photographer for the school yearbook.
Kara was the 2013 recipient of the Shirley J. Lowrie Award from Montgomery County Public Schools, Md., honoring an exemplary elementary education teacher. In 2016, she was DoDEA’s finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Kara earned a B.S. from Towson University and M.S. Ed. from Walden University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has certifications in elementary and special education.
Americas Southeast Teacher of the Year
Ft. Campbell HS
Mr. Jankowski began teaching in 1994 at St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend, Indiana. He taught German and History. Mr. Jankowski also coached JV Boys Basketball and was an Assistant Football coach. He was fortunate to be part of the Division 3A Football State Champions in 1995 as an Assistant Coach. He then began teaching at Edwardsburg High School in Edwardsburg, Michigan. Mr. Jankowski taught all German classes. He also coached Varsity Boys Basketball, Varsity Softball and was an Assistant Football coach during his tenure. For one year, he was an Assistant Principal at Edwardsburg High School. Mr. Jankowski then took a job at Mishawaka High School, in Mishawaka, Indiana. He taught all levels of German and coached Varsity Girls Basketball.
The best professional move of Mr. Jankowski’s life was accepting a position at Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He teaches Model United Nations and all levels of German. He served as the Athletic Director at FCHS for two years. FCHS won 2 state titles during this time in Football and Track. Mr. Jankowski is the founder and leader of the FCHS Model United Nations traveling team.
DODEA has covered FCHS MUN teams for many years in Press Releases and in DODEA Americas News. Mr. Jankowski has been blessed to work with some of the finest youth that America has to offer at FCHS. These students and awards have generated great publicity for the MUN program, FCHS and DODEA.
Europe South Teacher of the Year
Vinceza ES, 4th Grade
Erin Goodfellow has been an advocate for dynamic, hands-on learning for her students since beginning her teaching career at Menwith Hill, England in 1998. Her decision to become a teacher was directly influenced by her father who finished his educational career as a school superintendent. As a multiage classroom teacher, she engaged her students in project based learning and hands on investigations. After leaving England, Mrs. Goodfellow moved to the Azores and then to Byrd School in Yokohama, Japan. While at Byrd School, Mrs. Goodfellow went back to her teaching roots in a multiage classroom.
Mrs. Goodfellow's next assignment was Netzaberg, Germany. Once there, she developed her own STEAM classroom. Her collaboration with other teachers eventually led to a STEAM classroom in each grade level. Mrs. Goodfellow then worked with the Bavaria District Superintendent's Office to plan and facilitate district wide STEAM trainings.
Mrs. Goodfellow has continued to advocate for hands on learning at Vicenza Elementary. She and her students have created a garden and composting program for the school. Mrs. Goodfellow also coordinates school wide STEAM projects that inspire and encourage student learning. School wide projects, such as this year’s Paratrooper Jump, will involve the Fire Department and the 173rd Sky Soldiers. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Goodfellow is the school CCRS Math Teacher Leader and the STEAM Committee chair person. Mrs. Goodfellow has served on a number of district wide initiatives and recently was a member of the 2017 DoDEA K-5 Science Technical Evaluation Board.
Europe West Teacher of the Year
Lakenheath ES, 3rd Grade
Shawna James received her Master’s Degree in K-12 Administration and Educational Leadership from California University of Pennsylvania in 2014. Prior to this achievement, she earned her B.S. in Elementary and Kindergarten Education from The Pennsylvania State University in 2012 where she was selected for the Professional Development School for student teachers. She is currently teaching third grade at Lakenheath Elementary School, DoDEA Europe West.
A strong advocate for hands-on, inquiry-based learning, she involves her students in a variety of community service, problem-solving, and technology infused activities that provide them with the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills to help others. Her professional interests focus on democratic classrooms, infusing student choice into reading and writing programs, and fostering a positive classroom environment centered on the notion of having a growth mindset.
Her current projects include collaboration with her team in raising awareness and funds for the Lakenheath Elementary Guide Dogs, bridging the communication gap between home and school via her creation of a classroom Google Site, and lending expertise to staff members on the CAFÉ and Daily Five programs through use of visual reading tools. In addition, she serves on the Writing Cadre at Lakenheath Elementary where she evaluates student writing in grades K-3 and on the Math Night committee where she creates various math stations to support the CCRSM standards. She was recently selected as DoDEA District Teacher of the Year for Europe West.
Tricia Surinak, ED.D
Europe East Teacher of the Year
Making her way from Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale to Germany, Tricia Surinak has been committed to education and serving her community wherever she lands. Whether she is teaching dance to preschoolers, English as a Second Language to adults, classroom management to beginning teachers, scuba classes to divers, or mathematics and social studies to high school students, she is passionate about the subject matter and her students.
Dr. Surinak is an active member of her community and school. She has served on many boards, such as, the City of Oakland Park’s School Board, Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, and the Council for Exceptional Children. As a high school teacher, she has coached sports teams and continuously sponsors student clubs, interacting with students outside of the classroom. She regularly reaches out to parents, involving them in their child’s educational program.
Dr. Surinak believes in empowering students to take ownership and pride in their work by maintaining a rigorous curriculum, high expectations, engaging lessons, and cheering each student onto success. Meeting her students with a smile, she creates a welcoming environment where students feel safe and encouraged to take academic risks, promoting growth and maturation.
Not only does Dr. Surinak enjoy working with students, she creates opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, changing the culture of the school to one that fosters professionalism and relationship building. Administration, district staff, and teachers often turn to Dr. Surinak for her input and professional opinion. Dr. Surinak embodies the spirit of the District Teacher of the Year.
Pacific East Teacher of the Year
John O. Arnn ES, Kindergarten
Mrs. Deverick graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. After working ten years in the field, Mrs. Deverick decided to return to school to pursue a career in teaching. She earned her teaching credentials from Montclair State University in New Jersey while student teaching at her children’s preschool in Medford, New Jersey. She worked as a Transitional Kindergarten teacher at the preschool until 2010.
In 2010, Mrs. Deverick’s family relocated to Japan. She was able to obtain several substitute teaching positions at John O. Arnn Elementary School to include a long term substitute position as a Learning Impaired Specialist and Special Education Assistant.
In 2012, Mrs. Deverick began teaching full-time as a Kindergarten teacher. In February 2015 she earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education. During her time, she has been able to gain experience working with children with developmental delays, behavior disorders, hearing impairments and speech disorders.
Mrs. Deverick is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Phi Delta Kappa International. She has been involved in the school Team Building Committee and the School Writing Committee. Mrs. Deverick is also involved in the Arnn Video Knights Audio Visual Club. In 2016, Mrs. Deverick was awarded the Unsung Hero Award in Teaching for Camp Zama, Japan from the ZaCSA, Zama Community Spouses Association. Mrs. Deverick thrives on creating engaging lessons that build upon student self-confidence, encourage interpersonal skills and promote student success.
Pacific West Teacher of the Year
Daegu Middle/High School
Mrs. Rebecca Lentz has taught in DoDEA schools for six years. She is currently teaching Mathematics and Advance via Individual Determination (AVID) at Daegu American School (DAS). Rebecca holds a master’s degree in teaching from Friends University and a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from Kansas State University. She is the recipient of the General Thurman Scroll of Appreciation, the Kansas Horizon Award, and two DAS Golden Apple Awards. She has served on the committees for math collaboration and leadership teams, AVID site teams, and student and school improvement teams. Rebecca serves as a mentor and friend to her fellow teachers, often assisting with implementing new instructional ideas and strategies. For instance, she has promoted school-wide use of the AVID binder system and interactive notebooks and played an instrumental role in preparing and hosting her schools accreditation visit. A model for 21st Century Education, she has presented numerous in-service workshops on math and pedagogy at professional conferences. Rebecca has guided and supervised student teachers, Korean university interns, and career practicum students ensuring that they exceed requirements for their programs. Rebecca has volunteered evenings to chaperone dances, led activities on Family Math and Dr. Seuss Nights and has facilitated many after school activities like MATHCOUNTS, Academic Assistance, and Lego, Minecraft, and Game Club. Additionally, she can be found providing academic tutoring for all subjects during her lunch hour. When not working, Rebecca and family like to travel, visit museums, and play with their dog Matilda.
Pacific South Teacher of the Year
As a military child, Erika Wootton had inspiring educational experiences in DoDEA schools and decided to dedicate herself to becoming a DoDEA educator. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelors of Choral Music Education, a minor in Spanish, and Liberal Studies Honors. Ms. Wootton believes that growing up in a military household and completing her student teaching in DoDEA schools, have given her the ability to relate to and develop a meaningful rapport with her students.
Ms. Wootton began her career at Seoul American Elementary School as a general music educator.
There, she actively worked to bring students into a love of music, and then helped them to share that love with their peers, families, and community. As much as she enjoyed working with K-5 students, after five years,she traded boo-boos for hormones and now teaches Spanish and Piano at Kubasaki High School. In seven years, she has taught all four levels of Spanish, earned her AP Spanish Teaching Certificate, served on the School Advisory Committee, as the CSI Student Committee Chair, as the Faculty Sponsor for the Associated Student Body, and as a volunteer in multiple inter-disciplinary programs ranging from STEM projects to school musicals. At the heart of everything, is her students; they are her inspiration.
Ms. Wootton believes that when teachers and students work together to do what's best for kids, students will take ownership of their education and will inspire others to do the same.