Teach in Arkansas


2012 State Teacher of the Year Finalists

The American Board is in the process of naming a Teacher of the Year for 2012 (who will serve as Teacher of the Year for the remainder of 2013). Nominations have come in from across the country for deserving teachers who are American Board alumni.  Voting is currently underway to select the finalists from each state which approves the American Board’s certification program that has multiple nominees. You can vote for one finalist in each state. Everybody who votes is entered in a drawing to win an iPad Mini at the conclusion of voting. Voting will run through March 29, 2013.

You can cast your vote via the poll on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ABCTE or at http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/5bu1cp.


Edie Flores (Eckerd Youth Challenge Program; Brooksville, FL)

Edna Flores from Brooksville FloridaEdie Flores directs the educational programing for a juvenile justice facility (also teaching three classes). Over 80% of her students made average gains of 1.5 grade levels during their six to nine months in the program (far exceeding the state average). “In an effort to build positive supporting relationships with children, Edie plans lessons that engage the multiple learning styles of her student,” said nominator Keith Phillipson, “You will always find her students actively engaged in the lesson.”


Tony Myers (Mill Creek Elementary; Middleton, ID)

Tony Myers from Middleton IdahoTony Myers is an advocate for kids who enhances his lesson plans through technology. A former lawyer, he followed his dream to become a teacher and has become one that students request and never forget. “Within days after hiring him, I knew he was a perfect fit for our school community and kids,” said his nominator, Valerie Berg. “He brings learning alive and makes it real. From animals in the classroom to hands on games…his desire to enhance his lessons with technology is impeccable.”

Caya Snethen (Eagle Middle School; Eagle, ID)

Caya Snethen from Eagle IdahoCaya Snethen works tirelessly to put students first and meet their needs. Besides teaching keyboarding, social studies, and literature, she advises the student council and National Junior Honors Society at her school. She also coaches girl’s varsity soccer. “Caya loves her students,” said Tony Nelson, who nominated her. “She is an extremely caring individual that puts forth a lot of effort to make sure her students are taken care of on a daily basis.”


Geoff Williams (Century High School; Pocatello, ID)

Jeff Williams from Pocatello IdahoGeoff Williams teaches a variety of math and science classes at Century High School including AP Physics, Honors Chemistry, and Algebra 2. The administration, including Sheryl Brockett, who nominated him has entrusted him with large projects including “working through issues with at-risk students to assure success in the classroom.”  According to Brockett, Geoff is “skilled in a variety of instructional strategies to maximize student learning and to support both the remedial learner and the advanced learner.”


Aaron Prejean (Hardy Middle School; Jackson, MS)

Aaron Prejean serves as a model of character and responsibility to his students as one of the first teachers to arrive and one of the last to leave each day  – despite being burglarized near his school. He uses technology such as interactive polls to engage his students and increased their achievement levels by over 15% in his first year. Antonius Caldwell, who nominated him, said, “Mr. Prejean’s legal education allows him to provide guidance and perspective to students in dire need of a moral compass.”


David Eller (Cleveland Naval Junior Academy; St. Louis, MO)

David Eller teaches Advanced Placement courses in Biology and Environmental Science as well as general Biology courses.  His students placed in the top three in the district on standardized tests during the last school year (out of 14 high schools). According to his nominator, ChanTam Trinh, “His students’ success is evident from his unique style of teaching…Mr. Eller is the only teacher in our district who has successfully made the school’s targets on Missouri End of Course exam for four years straight.”

Gene LaVigne (Our Lady of the Pillar; Creve Coeur, MO)

Gene LaVigne helped to rewrite his school’s middle school curriculum. Teaching a full range of subjects and advocating for student service projects, Gene initiated a fund raising program in 2011 to aid Joplin tornado victims. “He aggressively seeks out multimedia sources to integrate into his curriculum,” said nominator Judy Talleur, “it is no surprise that his students are performing well…but the most important thing really is that his students love learning.”

Birdie Pruessner (City Academy; St. Louis, MO)

Birdie Pruessner from Saint Louis Missouri

Birdie Pruessner, besides being an upper grades math teacher, teaches and plan curriculum for a variety of grade levels and subjects (including gardening and sustainability). “Ms. Pruessner has the ability to work with all age ranges of youth,” Linsay Pearson said in one of multiple nominating statements for Birdie, “She adapts to age appropriate educational needs with ease. Ms. Pruessner demonstrates an outstanding ability to adapt quickly to unforeseen changes.”


Shelley Dalpiaz (Cane Bay High School; Summerville, SC)

Shelley Delpiaz from Summerville South CarolinaShelley Dalpiaz is a microbiologist turned mathematics teacher. In her classroom, she incorporates everyday scenarios and teaches kids why mathematics matters. “Mrs. Dalpiaz is always the professional,” said her nominator, Lee Westberry, “She is eager and willing to learn new things and serves as a mentor. She has a great rapport with her students as students always ask to have Mrs. Dalpiaz for Algebra II…I wish I had a department full of teachers like her.”


Jeffrey Pitt (Wade Hampton High School; Varnville, SC)

Jeffrey Pitt started in his department over four years ago as a long-term sub and showed his administrators his potential when he took over a class and turned around several failing students.  “Mr. Pitt has been an asset to our English department here at Wade Hampton High School,” said Barry Rosenberg, who nominated him. “If it were not for his ability to get his certification through the American Board, he probably would not be serving the students of our district now.”

Jamal Sanders (Chester High School; Chester, SC)

Jamal Sanders from Chester South CarolinaJamal Sanders is a leader at his school in a number of ways. He serves as the student council advisor, an assistant coach for the varsity football team, and a representative on the Academic Calendar Committee. He set an example for other teachers by his students having a 90% pass rate on the South Carolina Algebra 1 End of Course Examination. “Jamal is an excellent teacher and role model,” said Jeff Gardner, his nominating administrator. “The students like him and he demands respect.”

Nicole Schildt (Academy for Technology and Academics; Conway, SC)

Nicole Schildt from Conway South CarolinaNicole Schlidt started teaching after serving as a deputy sheriff. She decided that she wanted to improve student’s lives before they became involved with the law and works with at-risk students in an accelerated program at her school. “Nicole comes in every morning with a smile on her face…and a genuine caring demeanor,” said her nominator, David Stoudenmire. “For these students who have been struggling  both in and out of school this type of dedication and care can help change their lives forever.”


Sara Layton (Open High School of Utah; West Jordan, UT)

Sara Layton from West Jordan UtahSara Layton is a pioneer in the use of online secondary learning and open educational resources (OER) curriculum building. Using OERs, she has improved her student’s test scores and their enthusiasm for learning. She has presented at conferences on educational technology internationally.  According to DeLaina Tonks, who nominated her, “Sara’s unique skill set and attention to detail coupled with her love for her students positions her as one of the top 1% of teachers I have employed over the past four years.”

Deborah Neal (DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts; Ogden, UT)

Deborah Neal from Ogden UtahDeboarah Neal is currently the chair for the Science department at her school. A former environmental scientist, she uses her expertise to bring hands on learning into her classroom. She also organizes an outreach program that allows students to get a deeper, real-world look at science topics. “Mrs. Neal is a leader in the school,” Fred Donaldson, her nominating administrator said. “She meets weekly with her department to make sure all teachers know and are using student-centric learning methods.”

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