Brandywine’s Jahsha Tabron named 2022 Delaware Teacher of the Year

A high school special education teacher from the Brandywine School District is Delaware’s 2022 State Teacher of the Year.

Jahsha Tabron of Brandywine High School now is Delaware’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year. She will use her position to share her message to fellow teachers about the importance of teachers building strong communities.

“As a special education teacher, I have witnessed the power of inclusive classrooms. Inclusion erases educational barriers, embraces diversity, develops resilience in students, and fosters their perseverance,” Tabron said. “Teachers, our ability to persevere and succeed is dependent on the communities we build; we cannot and should not do this alone! Our greatest resource is each other.”

Governor John Carney made the announcement during a Dover ceremony to honor the 20 district/charter teachers of the year.

As a co-teacher in grades 9 to 12 English classes, Tabron works to make learning relevant to her students. She maintains academic rigor while helping students make connections to themselves, the text, and the real world. Her primary focus is ninth-grade special education students who are transitioning to the high school setting. Her expertise is in working with students and families to foster community connections between home, school, and educational agencies.

Tabron also works to uphold equitable educational practices; she facilitates opportunities for fellow educators to foster student-centered growth. She mentors new teachers in special education compliance requirements necessary for developing individualized education programs.

A former colleague, M. Dwayne Caldwell, wrote in a letter recommending Tabron for the honor that she lives by a three-step guide in all that she does: “1) be truthful about what is actually happening; 2) determine the steps that need to be taken to change; and 3) hold yourself accountable for taking the steps. This approach has guided all of her work – as a building leader, as a mentor to new teachers, with special needs students, and with me.”

Tabron believes the most important thing an educator can teach a student is the power of self-advocacy. She speaks for the voiceless. She helps the often-overlooked students find their voices whilst advocating for them. She connects with students and encourages them to become active participants in their learning. Tabron believes that success lies in self-reflection. She is always willing to re-examine her work and the impact that it has on her students.

DaSheena Robinson, a Brandywine High alumna who went on to become a teacher herself, also recommended Tabron for the honor. While in high school she applied to be a teacher’s assistant in Tabron’s class because she wanted to learn from her.

“Mrs. Tabron ensured social emotional learning, conflict resolution and goal setting permeated through each of her daily lessons,” Robinson said. “Through this experience I noted first-hand how society could discourage students due to socioeconomic status, race, or intellectual level, but it only took one person to truly believe and invest in order to counter the negativity. When students were tired and frustrated with life’s circumstances, Mrs. Tabron served as a voice of compassion and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Tabron earned her Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education from Delaware State University and her Master of Education in school leadership and instruction from Wilmington University.

In addition to serving as her school’s special education department chair, Tabron also is a district transition facilitator to assist students with disabilities transition to post-secondary education or employment opportunities.

Tabron inherits from outgoing Teacher of the Year Kimberly Stock the responsibility of representing all teachers in Delaware. She will address community groups, business leaders, legislators, and educational organizations to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools. She also will become Delaware’s candidate in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the Voya Foundation.

By action of the General Assembly, she will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well as two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 19 school district/charter candidates each will receive a personal grant of $2,000. All 20 teachers also received gifts from Advantech Incorporated and their district superintendents or charter principal.

Tabron also received gifts from the Office of U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware School Boards Association and Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association; State of Delaware Teacher of the Year commemorative plates from the Division of Motor Vehicles; a full doctorate program from Delaware State University and University of Delaware; and a 10-karat gold ring from Jostens.

This year’s celebration was sponsored by Voya Financial.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Those interested in arranging interviews with Tabron on Tuesday should contact Brandywine School District public information officer Danielle Pro-Hudson at danielle.prohudson@bsd.k12.de.us.

 

Watch the virtual celebration and announcement online here.

Find information on all 20 nominees here.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


2022 Delaware Teacher of the Year to be named Oct. 11

Twenty of the state’s top teachers will be honored at a celebration in October, when one of them will be named Delaware’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, attendance at the ceremony will be limited. The program will be streamed to the Delaware Department of Education’s social media channels for at-home viewing. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Dover High School auditorium with the announcement coming at the end of the night. Funding for the award ceremony is provided by a grant from Voya Financial.

The candidates were nominated by their districts or the Delaware Charter Network during the 2021 calendar year because of their superior ability to inspire students with a love of learning, exemplary demonstration of professional traits and strong sense of dedication and devotion to teaching.

Each nominee submitted a detailed application exemplifying his or her teaching philosophy. Five Delaware Department of Education staff members independently evaluate each application. A former Delaware Teacher of the Year and department staff member observe each candidate in the classroom. Taking into consideration the ratings from the application review and observations as well as a recorded presentation by the nominees, another independent panel of non-department judges then selects the one teacher who will serve as the 2022 Delaware Teacher of the Year.

The teacher chosen to become the State Teacher of the Year will become Delaware’s nominee in the national program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.

By action of the General Assembly, the Delaware Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of his or her students, as well as a personal grant of $3,000. Additionally, all nominees will receive a $2,000 grant from the state.

The 2022 District/Charter Teachers of the Year are:

Appoquinimink: Amanda Binkley of Odessa High (engineering and computer science)
Brandywine: Jahsha Tabron of Brandywine High (special education)
Caesar Rodney: Karine Scott of Simpson Elementary (physical education)
Cape Henlopen: Maura Johnson of Shields Elementary (third grade)
Capital: Morgan Jewell of Hartly Elementary (kindergarten)
Charter Network: Diana Magaña of Las Américas ASPIRA Academy (third grade Spanish immersion)
Christina: Carla Probst of Downes Elementary (fourth grade)
Colonial: Robert Poore of Southern Elementary (physical education)
Delmar: Sonja Warner of Delmar High (mathematics)
Indian River: Haley Mears of East Millsboro Elementary (special education)
Lake Forest: Clarence ‘Clay’ F. Beauchamp II of Lake Forest South Elementary (kindergarten)
Laurel: Jessica Pajda of Laurel High (social studies)
Milford: Sarah Simon of Morris Early Childhood Center (kindergarten)
New Castle County Vo-Tech: Dustin Craighton of St. Georges Technical High (science)
POLYTECH: Debra Castille-Hall of POLYTECH High (English)
Red Clay Consolidated: Matthew Marion of Linden Hill Elementary (music)
Seaford: Melissa Pinkerton of Seaford High (English)
Smyrna: Lauren Mohamed of Sunnyside Elementary (music)
Sussex Tech: Stephanie Pegelow of Sussex Technical High (English)
Woodbridge: Kira Wagar of Woodbridge High (English)

The 20 nominees will be escorted to the award ceremony in collector cars (weather permitting). The parade will travel from the Capital District Office, 198 Commerce Way in Dover, to Dover High School, 1 Dover High Drive in Dover, starting at 6 p.m. Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting will greet each car as it arrives and welcome the nominee to the ceremony.

DOE would like to thank the following individuals for the donation of their time and car use to help us honor these outstanding teachers:
Vincent Alvino – 1985 El Camino
Rick Aydelotte – 1965 AC Cobra
Rob Burton – 1965 Daytona Coupe
Bill Butler – 1939 Ford Custom
Leven Clark – 1940 Chevy
Tom Dempsy – 1969 Nova
Nick Gurnas – 1994 Viper
Pete Hart – 2008 Pontiac Solstice
Rita Hart – 2008 Pontiac Solstice
Joanne Hempel – 2003 Viper
Oliver Hempel – 2021 Corvette
Mabel Kelly – 1967 Chevy C10
Bruce Leppo – 1950 Studebaker
AF Lynch – 1955 Chevy Nomad
Phil Mead – 1965 AC Cobra
Tonyea Mead – 1941 Dodge Pick up
Rick Moore – 1994 Camaro 228
Ken Philcox – 1982 Trans Am
Mike Rogers – 1981 DeLorean
Dave Shugard – 2008 Corvette


20 Delaware Teachers Named Local Teachers of the Year

Twenty Delaware teachers have been nominated to be named Delaware’s 2022 State Teacher of the Year.

Selected from among the almost 10,000 public school teachers in the state, the candidates were nominated by their districts or the Delaware Charter School Network because of their ability to inspire students with a love of learning, demonstration of professional traits and devotion to teaching. Already leaders among the colleagues in their buildings, each now has assumed a role representing educators in their districts or the charter network. In October, one will take over the state title from 2021 Delaware Teacher of the Year Kimberly Stock, an English language arts and English learner teacher from the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The 2022 District/Charter Teachers of the Year are:

  • Appoquinimink: Amanda Binkley of Odessa High (engineering and computer science)
  • Brandywine: Jahsha Tabron of Brandywine High (special education)
  • Caesar Rodney: Karine Scott of Simpson Elementary (physical education)
  • Cape Henlopen: Maura Johnson of Shields Elementary (third grade)
  • Capital: Morgan Jewell of Hartly Elementary (kindergarten)
  • Charter Network: Diana Magaña of Las Américas ASPIRA Academy (third grade Spanish immersion)
  • Christina: Carla Probst of Downes Elementary (fourth grade)
  • Colonial: Robert Poore of Southern Elementary (physical education)
  • Delmar: Sonja Warner of Delmar High (mathematics)
  • Indian River: Haley Mears of East Millsboro Elementary (special education)
  • Lake Forest: Clarence ‘Clay’ F. Beauchamp II of Lake Forest South Elementary (kindergarten)
  • Laurel: Jessica Pajda of Laurel High (social studies)
  • Milford:  Sarah Simon of Morris Early Childhood Center (kindergarten)
  • New Castle County Vo-Tech: Dustin Craighton of St. Georges Technical High (science)
  • POLYTECH: Debra Castille-Hall of POLYTECH High (English)
  • Red Clay Consolidated: Matthew Marion of Linden Hill Elementary (music)
  • Seaford: Melissa Pinkerton of Seaford High (English)
  • Smyrna: Lauren Mohamed of Sunnyside Elementary (music)
  • Sussex Tech: Stephanie Pegelow of Sussex Technical High (English)
  • Woodbridge: Kira Wagar of Woodbridge High (English)

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


Red Clay’s Kimberly Stock named 2021 Delaware Teacher of the Year

An English learner teacher from the Red Clay Consolidated School District is Delaware’s 2021 State Teacher of the Year.

Kimberly Stock of McKean High School now is Delaware’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year. She will use her position to share her message about how schools must adapt to give students equitable access and opportunities.

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting made the announcement by surprising family and colleagues gathered at McKean High to view the virtual celebration at a socially distanced watch party. The virtual celebration honored all 20 district and charter teachers of the year who, due to COVID-19 precautions, watched the televised and streamed broadcast at small gatherings across the state instead of joining together at the typical statewide banquet.

Stock’s passion for supporting students who face difficult challenges comes from her own life experiences. Abandoned as a child in South Korea, Stock said she does not know her age, birth place or given name.

“After living with a foster family in Korea, I was adopted by a white family in Nebraska. Despite experiencing moments of trauma, racism, illness, loss and death caused by ethnic violence, I have been given new opportunities and second chances,” she said. “Only through God’s grace and many opened doors by people who believed in me do I stand here today.”

Now Stock tries to be the one opening those doors for her students, starting by better preparing her colleagues to instruct them.

“We must provide moments for our most vulnerable students to shine. When I surveyed staff about their training in English learner teaching methods, few said they had ever taken even one class. Meanwhile our EL population has grown over 81 percent in the last five years at McKean, making everyone a teacher of English learners,” Stock said.

Stock, who teaches Advanced Placement Literature and Composition and 11th grade English language arts, manages the language acquisition plans for more than 160 McKean students. She executed a new program and curriculum that serves more students with rigorous grade-level material resulting in 100 percent of McKean’s English learners graduating in 2020. She continues to provide regular professional development to McKean staff about EL teaching methods.

One current student said Stock was instrumental in helping her adjust to McKean when she arrived two years ago: “I came from the Dominican Republic and at that time, I didn’t know how to communicate with my teachers or even how to start a conversation with my classmates. I felt different from the students at school because I did not know if they were being nice or mean to me, and that was something that sometimes makes me feel down, but also it pushed me to be more confident and learn English faster. Mrs. Stock went to my EL class one day, and at that moment I knew she was and is an amazing person. She does everything to make her students comfortable and happy in her class.”

Making sure every student at her school feels safe and accepted is important to Stock.

“Our schools must immediately communicate that it’s a safe space for our students of color, our LGBTQ students and for our students of diverse faiths,” Stock said. “At different points in my education and life, certain teachers let me know that I mattered. They taught me – sometimes through words but more often by example – that a teacher can not only impart knowledge but also be a champion for her students.”

Her career in education as both a teacher and education non-profit administrator includes work at Claymont Community Center, where she secured partnerships with school districts, non-profits and government agencies to create a new adult basic education and GED program. The adult English as a Second Language program more than doubled immigrant students served.

Stock earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska and her first Master of Science in education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she researched the recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators of color. Her second graduate degree, a Master of Arts in teaching English as a second language from the University of Delaware, resulted in a proposed curriculum for a Methods of Teaching English Learners course for all new Delaware teachers.

As an advocate for students, Stock also is a diversity champion for her school and community, speaking on panels, serving on social justice committees and leading professional development while empowering student leadership through the Student Voices and Cultural Celebrations Advisories.

Stock inherits from outgoing Teacher of the Year Rebecca Vitelli the responsibility of representing all teachers in Delaware. She will address community groups, business leaders, legislators, and educational organizations to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools. She also will become Delaware’s candidate in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the Voya Foundation.

By action of the General Assembly, she will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well as two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 19 school district/charter candidates each will receive a personal grant of $2,000. All 20 teachers also received gifts from Advantech Incorporated and their district superintendents or charter principal.

Stock also will receive gifts from the Delaware State Education Association, Delaware School Boards Association, Delaware Association of School Administrators and Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association; State of Delaware Teacher of the Year commemorative plates from the Division of Motor Vehicles; a full doctorate program from Wilmington University; a 10-karat gold ring from Jostens; and lunch in Washington D.C. with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper.

This year’s celebration was sponsored in part by Voya Financial.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Those interested in arranging interviews with Stock on Wednesday should contact Red Clay Consolidated School District public information officer Taylor Green at Taylor.Green@redclay.k12.de.us.

Watch the virtual celebration and announcement online here. Photos of Stock being named Delaware’s 2021 Teacher of the Year are available here.

Find information on all 20 nominees here.

 


Colonial’s Rebecca Louise Vitelli named 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year

An early childhood educator from the Colonial School District is Delaware’s 2020 State Teacher of the Year.

Governor John Carney made the announcement tonight at the annual banquet honoring the 20 district and charter teachers of the year at Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center in Dover.

Rebecca Louise Vitelli, who teaches prekindergarten  for the Colonial Early Education Program located at the Colwyck Center, now is Delaware’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year, a title she hopes will allow her to share her message about the importance of all children having access to quality early childhood education.

Vitelli, whose classes include a mix of students with disabilities and their typically developing peers, said all children are born with an innate drive and extraordinary ability to learn: “They have remarkable potential, which can be achieved by early intervention.”

Relationships drive that learning, especially in early childhood, she said. “Safety and security wire the brain to be able to learn. But when we feel connected, that’s when we’re willing to learn.”

Teachers must remain consciously present listeners and encouragers, Vitelli said. “Many of my students begin school without the ability to speak. However, this in no way means they have nothing to say. We teach children to express themselves in a multitude of ways. We show them that communication is powerful, and that others will listen and value what they have to share.”

In her application, Vitelli told the story of twin sisters with autism who entered Colonial’s early education program at age 3. On their last day at Colwyck as 6-year-olds, their mother reflected on their growth in Colonial’s program and Vitelli’s class in a note to her daughters that Vitelli shared: “Three years ago, we were told you would never talk, and you would always be trapped inside 1-year-old brains. Three years later, you have proved them wrong.”

Like these students, “children and their families need high-quality pre-K experiences, where love of learning and confidence can be nurtured to unlock their true potential,” Vitelli said.

Despite being early in her career, Vitelli has exceptional skills. Said one former administrator, retired special education coordinator Debra Nuss: “You sit mesmerized by her seemingly effortless abilities to facilitate children’s play within a carefully engineered, rich learning environment while individually addressing the complex needs of her students with great efficiency. Most of all, it is Rebecca’s heartfelt joy, sincere compassion and genuine love of children that make her classroom such an enchanting place to learn.”

Nuss said she remembers proofreading the first Individual Education Program (IEP) Vitelli wrote while working with her.

“I was astonished and overwhelmed. The preparation, the detail, the thoughtfulness and the accuracy of the IEP was superior to any other teacher’s IEP on my caseload. Rebecca’s talents are so completely instinctual and were revealed so naturally,” Nuss said.

Her principal shared a story about how Vitelli has built positive and lasting relationships with her students and families, extending her support to her children to outside of the school day. After one boy’s parents told Vitelli about their struggles with their son’s behavior at their church, Vitelli attended church with the family to provide guidance and support to his Sunday School teachers.

“It didn’t matter that it was the weekend, it didn’t matter that they practice a different religion, what mattered to her was that her student and his family needed her help and trusted her to support them,” Principal Katrina Daniels said.

Vitelli earned both of her degrees from the University of Delaware: Bachelor of Science in early childhood education and Master of Education in exceptional children and youth with a concentration in autism/severe disabilities.

She inherits from outgoing Teacher of the Year Dana Bowe the responsibility of representing all teachers in Delaware. She will address community groups, business leaders, legislators, and educational organizations to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools. She also will become Delaware’s candidate in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the Voya Foundation.

By action of the General Assembly, she will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 19 school district/charter candidates each will receive a personal grant of $2,000. All 20 teachers also received gifts from Advantech Incorporated and their district superintendents or charter principal.

Vitelli also will receive gifts from the Delaware Association of School Administrators, Delaware State Education Association  and Delaware School Boards Association;  State of Delaware Teacher of the Year commemorative plates from the Division of Motor Vehicles; a full doctorate program from University of Delaware and Wilmington University; graduate tuition from Delaware State University and Wesley College; a watch from the Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association; a 10-karat gold ring from Jostens; and lunch in Washington D.C. with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper.

This year’s celebration was sponsored in part by Voya Financial.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Those interested in arranging interviews or visits to Vitelli’s classroom on Wednesday should contact Lauren.Wilson@colonial.k12.de.us.

Find information on all 20 nominees here.

Find a photo of Vitelli here.

 

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006