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Teacher of the Year

2021 Teacher of the Year

Khayree Bey

2021 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year
McCullough Middle School Teacher of the Year

Khayree Bey is a former Marine who started his teaching career as a substitute in 2009 while obtaining his Bachelor and Master’s degrees. “As I was substituting around Delaware I had the opportunity to see what many of the other school districts were like and what they had to offer their students, staff, and community. Colonial stood out to me amongst the rest…in an effort to live up to their messages and slogans, Every Child College and Career Ready, Access and Opportunity, and The Power of WE.  Along with teaching traditional classes in social studies, science and health, Bey also created mindfulness-based stress relief classes entitled Healthy Living and Mind Body Fit Club. Bey says he chose to teach because he believes a quality education is something no one can ever take away adding, “As an African American male, I believe I can be a positive influence on the lives of any student I come in contact with. I also teach to be a positive representative for an under and often misrepresented population that has a lot to offer.” Khayree is Who We Are!

2020-21 Colonial Teachers of the Year

Jessica Hitchens

Wilmington Manor Elementary Teacher of the Year

For Jessica Hitchens, working for the Colonial School District is like a match made in heaven. She not only teaches at Wilmington Manor but her husband Kyle also teaches at William Penn and coaches baseball, a sport they both love!  Hitchens’ mother and Father-in-law are also graduates of William Penn and still live in the District. At Wilmington Manor, Hitchens is a reading interventionist. “I teach because I believe that what we do as teachers matters, and we have an opportunity to make the world a better place each day we step into our classrooms.” Hitchens is also a big proponent of the District’s philosophical approach to teaching and reaching students. “I choose to teach in Colonial because WE believe that every student deserves to be provided with the highest quality of education in a safe and nurturing environment. In Colonial, WE build strong relationships that reflect the Power of WE within our staff, students, families, and stakeholders alike,” she says.

 #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Courtney Hopkins

Wilbur Elementary Teacher of the Year

Courtney Hopkins graduated from William Penn in 2004, and two days after graduating from the University of Delaware she began her 12-year teaching career with Colonial.  “I chose to teach in Colonial because Colonial shaped who I became as an adult, a teacher, and a friend. I wanted to give back to this community …once a  Colonial, always a Colonial!”  At Wilbur Elementary School, Hopkins pours her love of teaching into her students just as her teachers did when she grew up in the district. “I love helping students and families know their self-worth. I teach because I know firsthand how positive and healthy relationships can greatly change someone’s life for the better. Teaching is what I was born to do!” Courtney is Who We Are! #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

Krystal Rembert-Wallace

Southern Elementary School Teacher of the Year

For the last seven years, Krystal Rembert-Wallace has poured her love of teaching into third-grade students at Southern Elementary School. She says she enjoys working for a district that supports teachers so that they are well equipped to impact young lives. “It’s something special to know that kids are excited to come to school and learn from you because they know they are valued and respected.”  Receiving notes and letters from former students affirms her passion for teaching, especially when students she taught five to six years ago stop by to visit. “To think they value the influence I had on their lives makes this career so much more worthwhile!”

 

 

Riann Warman

Pleasantville Elementary Teacher of the Year

Riann Warman loves being an elementary school teacher at Pleasantville. “Every student who walks through my classroom door is capable of accomplishing great things. I teach to help foster those great things, lead them to their discoveries, help them grow not only academically, but socially and emotionally, and to help them enjoy the journey of learning,” she says. Warman believes Colonial’s Power of WE mantra empowers teachers to grow as leaders and says she enjoys working for a district that embraces families while investing in students. One of her memorable moments as a teacher was when a student she taught in kindergarten reached out to her during her junior year at Penn State to ask Warman to look over her work. Warman was touched, and happy to help the aspiring teacher saying, “Once my student, always my student!” Riann is Who We Are! #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

 

Mary Kay DeCampli

New Castle Elementary Teacher of the Year

Mary Kay DeCampli has worked in the Colonial School District for 18 years. After teaching at Colwyck, she has spent the last seven years as a math interventionist at New Castle Elementary School. “I teach because I want to make a difference,” DeCampli says. After graduating from the University of Delaware DeCampli went on interviews with several local school districts but when she walked into Colwyck she felt the principal was different, so different she says the building itself felt like home. “Colonial offers top-notch professional development to support teachers’ needs. The coaches in the buildings have become a vital resource to both novice and veteran teachers. Our teachers are provided the tools necessary to provide a quality education. I was lucky to find my home in Colonial!” DeCampli says.


#whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

Brianne Davis

George Read Middle School Teacher of the Year

For the last 16 years, Brianne Davis has been teaching health and physical education to students at George Read Middle School. “I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. Teaching is my passion!” she says. Davis is equally passionate about the Colonial School district, so much so she enrolled her 8-year old daughter in a district school. “That decision has proven to be so rewarding. As a family, we are now so blessed to experience the Colonial School District on so many levels; with our daughter as a student, as parents, and as an educator.” As for her students, “they are my constant inspiration and they are the reason I work so hard. They are my why, my how… They hold my heart and I help guide them through the crazy and amazing days that are their middle school life.” #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Erin Motley

Gunning Bedford Middle School Teacher of the Year

Erin Motley calls Gunning Bedford Middle School her home away from home where she considers it an honor and a privilege to teach science. “Each student in my classroom is someone very special with unique hopes, dreams, and interests. I teach science because I want my students to be able to explore and discover the beauty of it, as well as the possibilities it holds for them.” Motley has spent 19 years teaching in Colonial where she says the Power of WE has shown  “it’s not about ME: it is about US.”  This veteran teacher says her colleagues inspire her and she enjoys working in a district where teachers collaborate to bring out the best in students. “I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to be employed in a district where I am constantly learning from, learning with, growing, sharing, and supporting the people I work with….they all hold a role in what makes our district a great place!” 

#whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Khayree Bey

McCullough Middle School Teacher of the Year

Khayree Bey is a former Marine who started his teaching career as a substitute in 2009 while obtaining his Bachelor and Master’s degrees. “As I was substituting around Delaware I had the opportunity to see what many of the other school districts were like and what they had to offer their students, staff, and community. Colonial stood out to me amongst the rest…in an effort to live up to their messages and slogans, Every Child College and Career Ready, Access and Opportunity, and The Power of WE.  Along with teaching traditional classes in social studies, science and health, Bey also created mindfulness-based stress relief classes entitled Healthy Living and Mind Body Fit Club. Bey says he chose to teach because he believes a quality education is something no one can ever take away adding, “As an African American male, I believe I can be a positive influence on the lives of any student I come in contact with. I also teach to be a positive representative for an under and often misrepresented population that has a lot to offer.” Khayree is Who We Are!

#whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Michelle Lonergan

 

John G. Leach School Teacher of the Year

Michelle Lonergan began her career with Colonial in 2016 as a student teacher at New Castle Elementary School. Now at Leach, Lonergan puts her dual certification in Elementary and Special Education with a minor in Disabilities Studies to use. “Everything I do is for my students. I want my students to know that when they come into my room they are my priority. I want them to feel loved and cared for,” she says.  Lonergan believes students are entitled to the best education possible, and regardless of their abilities should be valued, heard, and encouraged to be the best that they can be. Lonergan also values the professional development that the Colonial School District provides and the collaboration among teachers in all schools. “I love being a part of a district where the staff pushes each other to be better teachers for the students we are serving!” #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

Ashley Bryson

Colonial Early Education Program Teacher of the Year

Ashley Bryson has a special love for children and obtained her Master’s degree in Special Education so she could help those with challenging behaviors. “I teach because I believe every child is destined for greatness. It’s a blessing every day to watch what seemed impossible become a reality.” Bryson has worked for Colonial’s Early Education Program (CEEP) since 2015, a place that she calls home. “I genuinely enjoy working with children and having a chance to connect with so many personalities. I love that every day is different and presents a new challenge to conquer.” As for working with youngsters who have special challenges, Bryson takes delight in all of their accomplishments, “The first time a child communicates, interacts with a friend, writes their name, imitates motions to a familiar song.” As for working in the Colonial School District, she says, “ I continue to choose to teach in Colonial for the professional growth offered by monthly  professional developments, leadership opportunities, and my amazing school family at CEEP!”. Ashley is Who We Are!

#whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Christina Marsett

William Penn High School Teacher of the Year

Christina Marsett knows the halls of William Penn High School very well, after all, she graduated as a Colonial in 2010 and has been teaching at her alma mater for the last five years. “ As a ninth-grade teacher, I am able to meet students when they first come to William Penn and watch them become mature young adults over their four years of high school which is really cool!” she says. Marsett takes great pride in not only teaching but in getting to know her students individually. She also takes great pride in working for a school district where she spent her entire life as a student. “I first decided to teach in Colonial because I loved my time as a student in the district. I had so many great teachers and the school environments were all so supportive. This has proven to be true as a teacher in this district as well!” #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Kimberly Barbato

Castle Hill Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Kimberly Barbato has spent her entire life living in Delaware, and her entire 19-year career teaching special education students at Castle Hills Elementary School. “I am totally passionate and committed to teaching all students, but especially those with special needs. All students deserve a teacher who can bring out the best in them and show them that all things are possible.” Barbato says she feels supported and valued in the Colonial School District where she feels empowered to not only teach but to form bonds with families so together they can help students thrive. She recalls one student who struggled with behavior at school and would sometimes resort to violence. Barbato worked with the child intensively so he would be prepared for middle school. Today she says that the student is doing well in high school and returned to Castle Hills to thank her for all she did for him. “I told him he did the work, I just showed him the way!” Kim  is Who We Are! #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

Ginnie Gatts

Eisenberg Elementary School Teacher of the Year

For the last six years, Ginnie Gatts takes her passion for teaching to Eisenberg Elementary School, which is affectionally called Berg Nation by the entire school family. “I teach to be a positive mentor for tomorrow’s future. I love my students. I love watching them learn and I love watching them grow.” Gatts, who has a Master’s Degree in special education,  says she happy working in the Colonial School District. “I teach in Colonial because I feel valued as an educator. I love being a part of the colonial team because everyone is working toward one common goal-WE,” she says. Gatts especially enjoys the children she interacts with at school saying, “I love celebrating them as humans and their accomplishments. I especially love it when they come back to visit!” #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Kasia Thomas

Wallin  School Teacher of the Year

For the last six years, Ginnie Gatts takes her passion for teaching to Eisenberg Elementary School, which is affectionally called Berg Nation by the entire school family. “I teach to be a positive mentor for tomorrow’s future. I love my students. I love watching them learn and I love watching them grow.” Gatts, who has a Master’s Degree in special education,  says she happy working in the Colonial School District. “I teach in Colonial because I feel valued as an educator. I love being a part of the colonial team because everyone is working toward one common goal-WE,” she says. Gatts especially enjoys the children she interacts with at school saying, “I love celebrating them as humans and their accomplishments. I especially love it when they come back to visit!” #whowearecsd #netde #powerofwecsd #teacherappreciationweek

 

Past Colonial Teachers of the Year

Rebecca Vitelli

Rebecca Vitelli

2020 Colonial School District and State of Delaware Teacher of the Year

Colonial Early Education Program

Bio

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.

Mark McKenzie

Mark McKenzie

2019 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Colonial Early Education Program

Lakeya Nova

Lakeya Nova

2018 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Eisenberg Elementary School

Sarah Bateman

Sarah Bateman

2017 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

New Castle Elementary School

Laura Bossert

Laura Bossert

2016 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Carrie Downie Elementary School

Lee Ann Skipper

Lee Ann Skipper

2015 Colonial School District and State of Delaware Teacher of the Year

Colonial Early Education Program

Tara Amsterdam

Tara Amsterdam

2014 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Kathleen H. Wilbur Elementary School

Julie Alexander

Julie Alexander

2013 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School

Jennifer Bufano

Jennifer Bufano

2012 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Kathleen H. Wilbur Elementary School

Beth Greenstein

Beth Greenstein

2011 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

William Penn High School

Dawn Alexander

Dawn Alexander

2010 Colonial School District and State of Delaware Teacher of the Year

Southern Elementary School

Jennifer Bonham

Jennifer Bonham

2009 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

William Penn High School

Charlotte Webb

Charlotte Webb

2008 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Southern Elementary School

Renee Griffith

Renee Griffith

2007 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Castle Hills Elementary School

Roberta Jacobs

Roberta Jacobs

2006 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Castle Hills Elementary School

Shirley Moux

Shirley Moux

2005 Colonial School District Teacher of the Year

Castle Hills Elementary School