Alumni News

Darla Williamitis (M.S.A ’09) named Teacher of the Year for N.C. District, Department of Defense Education Activity, Fort Bragg

Photo of Darla Williamitis

Darla Williamitis

Darla Williamitis was recently selected as the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the North Carolina district of Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). She is currently a special education teacher at Irwin Intermediate School at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.

The DoDEA Teacher of the Year award is given to educators who have made an exceptional difference in the lives of their students and provided inspiration to their peers. According to the DoDEA Web site, “The Teacher of the Year program encourages teachers to take an active part in educational leadership. [Selectees] promote the teaching profession and work with school officials to enhance the quality of teaching and the education of young people in DoDEA.”

Previous students, principals and students’ parents submitted nomination letters on behalf of Williamitis. The nominators commented on her compassion, dedication and knowledge as an educator.

Tim Howle, principal of Irwin Intermediate School, has known Williamitis since 1998 when they taught together at Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville. In his nomination letter, he reflected on their time together as he watched her develop as a new teacher, “Even at that time, Darla stood out above the other teachers. As a beginning teacher, her knowledge, organizational abilities and dedication to students were clearly visible.”

As Teacher of the Year for North Carolina, Williamitis had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Teacher of the Year Forum in Arlington, Va., last November. She met Anthony Mullen, the DoDEA’s 2009 National Teacher of the Year, and was congratulated by the senior officers of the U.S. military at a Pentagon ceremony. The award-winning teachers had a behind-the-scenes tour of the Pentagon.

On receiving the award Williamitis said, “I am proud but humbled by this honor.  I work hard every day to ensure that my children are receiving an education that prepares them for the future. This award is a constant reminder that I do much more than teach ─ I change the future one child at a time.”

Williamitis has been teaching fifth- and sixth-grade special education classes for the past three years at Irwin Intermediate School. Rather than setting academic goals for her students, Williamitis focuses on inspiring her students to love the process of learning.

In addition to her responsibilities as a special education teacher, Williamitis has made it a point to help implement programs that will improve the entire school system. She has worked in conjunction with the school’s principal to develop and implement a successful program that emphasizes the inclusion of students with disabilities into the general education classroom.

Williamitis also serves on the faculty of the College of Education at East Carolina University, where she teaches classes on assessment in special education.