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Educators Choose Winners of EPI Program Member Excellence Awards

Posted on August 11, 2022 by EPI Admin
Awards
General

Each year, teachers with Educational Partners International (EPI) recognize their fellow educators for outstanding work via the EPI Program Member Excellence Awards. Program members nominate teachers in three categories, and the final winners are chosen over the course of a week of voting. 

The awards allow program members as well as EPI to celebrate the hard work and dedication teachers put into their jobs each day. The spirit of the awards may be best summarized by Daniela Ariza, a Spanish teacher at Woodland High School in Dorchester, South Carolina. Ariza was among the finalists in the high school category, and she shared that her nomination “encourages and inspires me to keep on giving my best, no matter the difficulties we find as international teachers.

“This experience has changed my life for good,” she continued, “and I am thankful.”

This year’s award winners are:

Wilmark Mariano
Wilmark Mariano
EPI Program Member Excellence Awards Winner
Elementary School Category

Teaching at Cliffdale Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Wilmark Mariano has helped students find success – and he has guided fellow teachers, as well. His favorite moment this year? Becoming a Multi-Classroom Leader as part of the Opportunity Culture Program. Teachers with a strong teaching record and excellent leadership skills are selected to participate in the program, leading collaborative teams of two to eight educators in the same grade or subject. Present in 10 states, Opportunity Culture exists in 14 districts within North Carolina, and Mariano is the only international teacher to hold the position within his district.

Yet another distinction reflects the support that Mariano provides his fellow teachers. He was chosen by his district’s beginning teacher coordinator to help beginning international teachers and lead professional development for them.

In the classroom, Mariano is an elementary school teacher who is equally supportive of his students. He has prepared his third-graders for high-stakes testing with digital data notebooks, and he credits the project in part for their growth in reading and math. He also implemented a program that allows students to take ownership of their own learning data, so they can use that information as a motivator. Folklore, food, and dance all make their way into his lessons, as Mariano believes in incorporating culture into his subject matter. 

His hard work and dedication have earned Mariano the EPI Program Member Excellence Award in the elementary school category. He is from the Philippines.

Domingo Alberto
Domingo Alberto Jr.
EPI Program Member Excellence Awards Winner
Middle School Category

Like Mariano, Domingo Alberto Jr. teaches in Fayetteville, serving as the head of the science department at his school. And also like Mariano, he provides much assistance to his colleagues and pupils. 

For students at New Century International Middle School, Alberto’s support extends far beyond the classroom. He champions their growth and accomplishments through his involvement with the Science Club, which he advises, and the Science Olympiad, where he acts as a regional judge. A particular source of pride for Alberto: the students with whom he worked during the science fair. He coached them on the scientific method, working models, and public speaking. 

Alberto also helps newer teachers adjusting to their school. In fact, this spring, EPI recognized Alberto as a Local Liaison Trailblazer. (Local Liaisons are EPI program members who assist new and existing members in need, and the Trailblazers are those Local Liaisons who go above and beyond their duties to provide help.) 

With all of these involvements, it is no wonder that Alberto was selected as his school’s Teacher of the Year this past spring! For this science teacher, however, the recognition is all about his pupils: He has happily worked with students of all skill levels on their achievements, providing differentiated instruction to help them grow. 

A video he recorded for his school last year, in which he shares why he teaches, provides insight into what makes him such an effective educator. “Teaching is my passion,” he said. “It’s innate and natural in me. As a cultural exchange teacher, it widened my understanding of different cultures. 

“I guide and develop my students’ critical thinking,” he continued. “I am motivated to be a positive influence in my students’ lives by opening their minds to new ideas and constructing knowledge that will be beneficial to them. I know I am making a difference, preparing my students to be globally ready. 

“I truly believe that education is the stepping stone to their future.” 

Alberto is this year’s EPI Program Member Excellence Award Winner in the middle school category. He is from the Philippines.

Joshua Ansah
Joshua Ansah
EPI Program Member Excellence Awards Winner
High School Category 

As a teacher in an alternative school, Joshua Ansah has earned the respect and trust of his students through his compassion and thoughtfulness. Ansah, a mathematics teacher at Alfred E. Rush Academy in Quinby, South Carolina, aided in the development of a schoolwide plan that helps students successfully transition from the alternative school setting to the regular school environment. He was also part of Graduate Florence Academy (GFA), a rigorous, intensive program that helped students who failed eighth grade during the pandemic pass both eighth and ninth grade in one school year (with an emphasis on ACT and SAT study). Ansah is proud to report that eight of his 10 students in GFA moved on to the 10th grade. 

Further demonstrating his ability to differentiate instruction, Ansah was part of an online study program for expelled students who could not attend school in person. Additionally, he supports his students by assisting with the NO CAP ZONE, a setting in which teachers can discuss real-life issues with students. Ansah identifies himself as “loving, kind, and calm,” and it is difficult to imagine a personality better suited to his unique, specialized, and necessary work. 

“Thank you all for your votes and support,” Ansah stated upon learning of the award. “I wouldn’t have reached this far without you.”

For all these reasons, Ansah is the EPI Program Member Excellence Award Winner in the high school category. He is from Ghana.

 

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