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    Camp Lejeune Community Schools Educator Named Mid-Atlantic District Teacher of the Year

    Jonathan Willis - Mid-Atlantic District Teacher of the Year 2023

    Photo By Cpl. Jennifer E. Reyes | Jonathan Willis, center, a special education teacher at Tarawa Terrace Elementary...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Jennifer E. Reyes 

    Marine Corps Installations East       

    Teachers, Marines, family and friends gathered at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune, April 10 to present Mr. Jonathan Willis, special education teacher, Tarawa Terrance Elementary School, with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Mid-Atlantic District Teacher of the Year award. Willis works with students in Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade who have moderate and severe learning disabilities.

    “It’s never been about the award,” said Willis. “It’s all about what I do in my classroom every day and what I can bring for the kids.”

    The award was presented by Mr. Kent Worford, DoDEA Mid-Atlantic Superintendent, to Willis, who is the first recipient of this award in over a decade at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School. “This really goes to show that we have dedicated teachers here and teachers who really put everything forth as part of the mission to meet our student needs, which Mr. Willis has demonstrated,” said Worford.

    As a senior in high school, Willis volunteered at summer camps and Vacation Bible School, where he gravitated more toward children with special needs.

    “One of the counselors told me I should go into special education,” said Willis. “At the time I was like ‘what is that?’ and the more I looked into it the more I could see myself doing that, and now it is a passion of mine. There are so many times my students are looked at as limited and I just like to look at their possibilities and want to make what they can do shine.”

    Willis would go on to change his dream of becoming a pharmacist to becoming an educator. Eventually he began working with the DoDEA at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, before moving to Tarawa Terrace Elementary School on MCB Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he has remained as an honorable and respected teacher.

    “I am incredibly proud, but not at all shocked,” said Leigh Anne Kapiko Faulkner, the principal at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School. “I see what he does every single day and it is meaningful, whether he is at home during the pandemic doing what has to be done to keep the students engaged or helping the students out by donating money to school lunch programs from the hair salon that he and his husband run, he just has the pure heart of an educator.”

    Willis will go on to compete for the title of DoDEA Teacher of the Year, which is announced in September of each year. The DoDEA Teacher of the Year is designed to recognize and honor outstanding teachers who exemplify the quality professionalism of the DoDEA teaching work force.



    Date Taken: 04.10.2023
    Date Posted: 04.12.2023 16:05
    Story ID: 442513
    Location: JACKSONVILLE, NC, US 

    Web Views: 313
    Downloads: 0