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10-9-14 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards

By Kayce Foote

Every year the Alumni Awards Foundation (AAF) is honored to award outstanding Adventist teachers throughout North America. This year was no different. The truly inspiring stories told by co-workers, friends, parents of students, administrators, and the teachers themselves reveal the great work being done at each school. The Excellence in Teaching Awards are AAF’s way of extending appreciation for the teachers who continue to raise the bar in Adventist education.

Over the past two months, AAF board members and staff traveled across North America to present each teacher with a $2,000 cash gift, medallion and Certificate of Excellence. Below is the complete list of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award recipients:

Blech2Pacific Union: Southern California Conference
Anne Blech - 1st - 3rd Grade
Linda Vista Adventist Elementary Schoo

Blech has the ability to help students learn by unlocking their own creative potential. For example, she created the Museum of Living History, a walk-through museum where every student in the school researches and dresses as their assigned historical character and delivers a one-minute speech when they are approached by passers-by.

Buisson3Southern Union: Southeastern Conference
Elticia Buisson - Social Studies Teacher
Miami Union Academy

Buisson brings history to life using technology. While on a music tour in Europe, she posted pictures and videos on social media to create geographical scavenger hunts for her students. Buisson also offers free tutoring after school for students who can meet her in person or using Skype.

Esposito1Columbia Union: Potomac Conference
Carmen Esposito - 1st Grade
John Nevins Andrews School

Esposito, who is bilingual, has increased the Hispanic population at John Nevins Andrews School to 43 percent because of her recruiting efforts. Esposito preaches at Hispanic churches, speaks to parents one-on-one, and promotes Christian education on a Sabbath morning radio program sponsored by the area Hispanic churches.

Fetters1Columbia Union: Potomac Conference
Robert Fetters - 7th - 8th Science, Algebra 1, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry
Richmond Academy

An advocate of innovation, Fetters was an early adopter of Richmond Academy’s Connected School, a video educational platform commonly called “Distance Learning” that delivers classroom instruction to remote locations in real time. Fetters acquired partner schools, conducted research, and trained teachers to help set up the Connected School.

Hansen1Mid-America Union: Kansas-Nebraska Conference
Derek Hansen - High School Science, Algebra II
College View Academy

Hansen tries to engages students in the learning process in various ways, the most popular being his Physics class catapult contest, which is an event that the entire school is invited to watch. Students build catapults and launch projectiles across the ball field, winning based on distance and accuracy.

Heald3North Pacific Union: Upper Columbia Conference
Geoff Heald - 7th – 8th Grade
Lake City Junior Academy

After teaching from an outdated textbook, Heald realized the need for a change in his Northwest History class. He devoted his summer to recreating the course, resulting in an improved curriculum that included excerpts from a college-level textbook and incorporated both written and visual primary sources.

Norma Howard4Pacific Union: Southeastern California Conference
Norma Howard - K - 8th Grade
Needles Adventist Christian School

Howard uses innovative teaching strategies to keep her students interested. She has had students collect water samples from the Colorado River, nearby puddles and the rain in order to compare and contrast them under a microscope, and she enhances learning with gardening, field trips, and even cleaning the local church.

MPeinado4North Pacific Union: Montana Conference
Mechelle Peinado - 5th - 8th Grade
Mt. Ellis Elementary

Peinado has the unique talent to work with a diversity of students with varying learning disabilities and challenges and provides them with the attention they deserve. Instead of focusing on where students may fall short, she constantly praises them for their accomplishments.

Thomas-Laurencin1Atlantic Union: Greater New York Conference
Shirley Ann Thomas-Laurencin - 7th – 8th Grade
Whispering Pines Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School

After being unanimously selected by the school board to become Whispering Pines’ new teaching principal, Thomas-Laurencin created a new vision for the school. After one year of her leadership, enrollment jumped from 35 students to 96 students, with a projection of 115-125 for the following school year.

Thank you to the sponsors of the Excellence in Teaching Awards:

Andrews University
Oakwood University
Loma Linda University
Southern Adventist University
The Concerned Group
Union College

About the Alumni Awards Foundation

AAF is a nonprofit organization working to improve Seventh-day Adventist K-12 education. It has invested more than $2 million in Adventist education.

In 2011, AAF created the Renaissance Network, a management group specializing in making Adventist academies across North America successful in every area of operation. AAF’s strategy is to bring training and support for implementing the best practices in business, marketing, youth ministry, and education. Currently, the Renaissance Network operates on four Adventist campuses: Thunderbird Adventist Academy in Scottsdale, Ariz., Hinsdale Adventist Academy in Chicago, Ill., Madison Academy in Nashville, Tenn., and Mile High Academy in Denver, Colo.

AAF’s most recent program is the Principal Leadership Academy. This two-week comprehensive "boot camp" was designed to provide principals with a war chest of essential tools that empower them to transform their schools into thriving institutions of academic and spiritual excellence. The first annual Principal Leadership Academy was held on July 6 –18, 2014, on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Twelve outstanding educators from Adventist academies who had been previously recognized by AAF as having exceptional talent and leadership abilities were selected to attend.

Learn more at AlumniAwards.org.

North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
Fax: 443-391-
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