Education in the First State
October 30, 2019
Colonial's Rebecca Vitelli named State Teacher of Year
Colonial Early Education Program teacher Rebecca Vitelli reacts to hearing her name announced as the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year at the October awards banquet.

An early childhood educator from the Colonial School District is Delaware's 2020 State Teacher of the Year.
Governor John Carney made the announcement on Tuesday, Oct. 15 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."


Vitelli discusses her passion for early education 
2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year discusses why she loves teaching

Delaware's 2020 Teacher of the Year Rebecca Louise Vitelli shares her message about the importance of all children having access to quality early childhood education. Vitelli teaches prekindergarten  for the Colonial Early Education Program located at the Colwyck Center.
Video highlights 2020 Teacher of Year nominees
Twenty Delaware educators were selected from among the 9,500 public school teachers in the state as nominees for the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year award, which was announced earlier this month in Dover. The nominees each represent one of the state's 19 school districts and network of charter schools.
Candidates were nominated by their districts or the charter network during the 2019 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. Check out this video to learn more about what makes these teachers so amazing

Bowe: 'I am a better teacher because I am an advocate'

West Seaford Elementary special education teacher Dana Bowe reflected on what she learned serving as Delaware's 2019 State Teacher of the Year during her final speech as Delaware Teacher of the Year.

Editor's note: The following is the script of the speech delivered by 2019 Delaware Teacher of the Year Dana Bowe at the 2020 Teacher of the Year awards ceremony.

It was one year ago - the announcement right here at Dover Downs- "The 2019 Delaware State Teacher of the Year, from the Seaford School District- Dana Bowe."

It was a blurry moment.

What I do remember clearly was hearing the cheers from my family and friends, the board, my administration, my staff, and all of the families of children with special needs. Through the blur and the noise, I definitely felt wrapped in community spirit! I wasn't sure what was happening, or how it even happened, but I knew IT was something big.

Then, there were the photos and the interviews. You could see what I thought, what I felt, in every photo posted all over the internet and news. I learned pretty quickly that this honor would include speaking engagements, and at that time, I didn't believe that my voice deserved to be heard. Fortunately, I did believe that MY STUDENTS DESERVED TO BE SEEN AND THEIR VOICES BE HEARD. With guidance and support from so many wonderful people around me, I started sharing; sharing their powerful stories, using their voices, while I grew the courage to develop my message, and my voice. It was now time to raise awareness about inclusion and acceptance! 

I shared Wayne's story this year.

Wayne with the most beautiful blue eyes, but when he started my class, his eyes seemed to look right through me. He was nonverbal and h e didn't like having a speech generating IPAD device. He often threw it across the room. There were days Wayne cried and days that I cried. I had to learn how to listen- truly listen without hearing any words. I eventually learned that Wayne liked dominos, trains and anything that moved and I started incorporating his interests into my lessons. Wayne also liked my frog puppet, Moe. Moe would hop up and down and Wayne would laugh. Hearing Wayne's laughter was the best sound ever. One day, Moe, the frog puppet, asked Wayne, "Do you want a high five, fist bump, or a hug?" Just then, Wayne turned his device on and typed "h-u-g." It wasn't easy getting to know Wayne. It was really hard-- but once I learned how to listen to Wayne- I saw his greatness. Wayne could speed read, recognize over 100 sight words, and motivate us to dance and jump to hear his laughter and joy. I am not sure if I entered his world, or he entered mine.   Either way- I finally heard Wayne's voice.

Top national mathematics, science teachers recognized
The 2017 and 2018 PAEMST recipients will be honored at the 2020 Delaware STEM Conference. Pictured left-to-right: Kathleen Olenderski, Joshua Gates, Jennah Truitt and Danielle Rash. 
Four Delaware teachers have been named as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics and science teachers can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. The finalists were honored earlier this month at the national awards ceremony in Washington, DC.

The 2017 national awardees are:
  • Kathleen Olenderski (mathematics) of Alfred G. Waters Middle School in the Appoquinimink School District
  • Joshua Gates (science) of the private Tatnall School
The 2018 national awardees are: 
  • Jennah Truitt (mathematics) of Lord Baltimore Elementary School in the Indian River School District
  • Danielle Rash (science) of Olive B. Loss Elementary School in the Appoquinimink School District 
The Delaware Department of Education also has named six teachers as 2019 state PAEMST finalists: 
  • Katherine Hoffecker (mathematics) of Middletown High School in the Appoquinimink School District
  • Eileen Voltz (mathematics) of the Charter School of Wilmington in the Red Clay Consolidated School District
  • Kathleen Wilson (mathematics) of St. Georges Vocational Technical High School in the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District
  • Jordan Estock (science) of Concord High School in the Brandywine School District
  • Elizabeth Plant (science) of First State Montessori Academy Charter School
  • Rachael Smith (science) of Hodgson Vo-Tech High School in the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools