Southern Utah University alumna Angela Wilson was recently named the 2012 Teacher of the Year by the United States Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Schools, qualifying the 2010 SUU graduate as one of just four finalists for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year.
“Teachers don’t go into teaching to receive an award like this,” said Wilson, adding, “I feel completely humbled and grateful to be recognized and to represent the thousands of teachers in our system. This is really a reflection on my colleagues, who lift me up, and my students, who inspire me.”
It is obvious Wilson draws a great deal of inspiration from her students.
“My students are the children of America’s heroes, our military members. Many of their parents are deployed to Afghanistan, and the children are incredibly resilient and exemplar American ambassadors,” exclaimed Wilson. “I oftentimes am in awe at their strength. If I am the teacher of the year, my students are the students of the year.”
DoDEA Schools enroll more than 190,000 students at military bases in 12 countries, seven states and two U.S. territories. It is the only U.S. public school system that reports directly to the Secretary of Defense.
After graduating from Western Illinois University with her undergraduate degree in teaching, Wilson taught in Illinois, then Bullfrog, UT. She then began a career with the DoDEA, where she has taught in South Korea, Turkey and, now, Italy. Wilson received her master’s of education from SUU through the University’s online program, and now teaches seventh grade language arts and English at the Caserma Ederle military base, just outside of Venice, Italy.
Since being awarded, Wilson has been meeting with national education leaders and initiating projects to advance teaching in the U.S. She has met with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Bill Gates, attended conferences and participated in education initiatives with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and was recognized by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Most recently, Wilson met with President Barack Obama.
Though on a much grander scale, Wilson’s level of involvement and ongoing efforts to improve education parallel similar efforts for excellence during her time as a student at SUU.
Said Dr. Tony Pellegrini a former professor of Wilson’s, “While Angela was a student of mine at SUU, she was always reaching out to others to learn how she could make her classroom better.”
Given her level of commitment even then to both her students and her own professional standards, Pellegrini reports being excited but not at all surprised his former student has already reached such great heights.
Pellegrini, along with the whole of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education and Human Development, is also grateful. “Sometimes we teachers judge our success on the successes of our students, and to have one of our own be given this award, it reflects back on our department and lets us shine along with her at the national level.”