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Outstanding International Educators Named as EPI Teachers of the Year

Posted on July 27, 2023 by EPI Admin

Educational Partners International (EPI) has announced their 2022-2023 EPI Teacher of the Year award winners! These phenomenal honorees were nominated and voted for by EPI program members. Via the process, teachers recognized world-class educators who go above and beyond for students, schools, and communities.

Program members nominated their fellow teachers in categories representing four states where EPI placed teachers during the past school year. Teachers then voted for the winners, picking among three nominees per category.

EPI congratulates all of this year’s award winners and nominees for their outstanding work! The amazing dedication and skill that the teachers bring to their classrooms enriches their students and schools immeasurably.

The 2022-2023 EPI Teacher of the Year Award Winners

EPI Teacher of the Year for Florida, Ronalyn Aquino

EPI’s Florida Teacher of the Year is elementary teacher Ronalyn Aquino, who teaches at South Grade Elementary School in Lake Worth. She is from the Philippines.

Aquino became her school’s first Filipino teacher, and her consistency, performance, and hard work earned her the admiration of fellow teachers. The Multicultural Department of Palm Beach County District celebrated her in talks about best practices for student engagement!

What’s more, Aquino maintained perfect attendance, demonstrating to her students the power of showing up every day. Through her professionalism and deep commitment, she explored a new teaching frontier and made it her own.

EPI Teacher of the Year for North Carolina, Maria Cristina C. Morales

EPI’s North Carolina Teacher of the Year is science teacher Maria Cristina C. Morales, who taught at Allen Middle School in Greensboro. She is from the Philippines.

Early in Morales’ cultural exchange program, her school recognized her as their Teacher of the Month. More recently, she partnered with the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNC Greensboro) to co-design I-Engineering resources for middle school science students. She participated in the university’s Project IGNITE (Innovation to Grow, Nurture, and Inspire Teachers of English-learners), allowing her to engage multilingual learners. She also tirelessly supported a professional learning community (PLC) for teachers.

Students in Morales’ classes gained exposure to the world of higher education via college-level guests, including local professors! Partnering with UNC Greensboro, Morales acquired a grant that empowers students’ parents to participate in their science education. On Saturdays, she volunteered with Real World English, a program that helps adult English language learners develop proficiency and confidence.

EPI Teacher of the Year for South Carolina, Sheena Bumangil

EPI’s South Carolina Teacher of the Year is mathematics teacher Sheena Bumangil, who taught at Goose Creek High School in Goose Creek. She is from the Philippines.

Bumangil was nominated by a colleague who now teaches Bumangil’s former students! Those students spoke of Bumangil in glowing terms, some reporting that she was one of the most understanding and compassionate people they had ever met. The students also recognized her dedication to teaching and her commitment to her pupils, noting that they would miss her kindness. Another nominating teacher reported that Bumangil’s former students said that they “learned to love math because of Ms. Bumangil.”

EPI Teacher of the Year for Virginia, Genesis Agcaoili

EPI’s Virginia Teacher of the Year is biology teacher Genesis Agcaoili, who taught at Greensville County High School in Emporia. He is from the Philippines.

A dedicated educator, department chair, biology teacher, and adjunct professor, Agcaoili tailored his teaching methods to his students’ needs. He led his department through incredible growth – such as a more than 50 percent improvement in standardized testing from a previous year! He actively engaged in community service work, particularly with the hunger relief organization Feeding America, and he spoke at local and international conferences. Working with professional organizations, he demonstrated a commitment to professional growth.

The 2022-2023 EPI Teacher of the Year Award Finalists

EPI Teacher of the Year Finalists

This year’s finalists were:


  • Elementary teacher Abegail Delos Reyes, who taught at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Kissimmee. She is from the Philippines.
  • Science teacher Eugemma Camannong, who taught at Discovery Intermediate School in Kissimmee. She is from the Philippines.

North Carolina

  • Spanish teacher Milton Villarroel, who taught at North Gaston High School in Dallas. He is from Bolivia.
  • Math teacher Myla Apigo, who taught at South Johnson Elementary School in Laurinburg. She is from the Philippines.

South Carolina

  • Elementary teacher Marylou Abalo, who teaches at Horrell Hill Elementary School in Hopkins. She is from the Philippines.
  • Elementary teacher Raymond Anacaya, who taught at Rosenwald Elementary and Middle School in Society Hill. He is from the Philippines.


  • Spanish teacher Beatriz Valencia, who teaches at Sussex Central High School in Stony Creek. She is from Colombia.
  • Mathematics teacher John Carlo Pasigay, who teaches at J.E.J. Moore Middle School in Disputanta. He is from the Philippines.

“We are all in this together, as we are each other’s tower of strength." - Sheena Bumangil

A Graduation Ceremony Highlight

EPI announced the winners via an internal online forum. Noting the teachers’ amazing accomplishments also provided an additional spark to EPI’s inaugural virtual graduation ceremony. The event, celebrating teachers exiting the program this year, spotlighted the winners’ extraordinary achievements and gave them a platform to reflect on their time with EPI.

“This is truly an honor, not only for myself but also in representing my country, the Philippines,” Morales said during the graduation ceremony. “My five years of teaching and learning experience here in the USA enabled me to gain valuable expertise, knowledge, friends, and family, and was truly a remarkable experience that I will treasure forever.”

Bumangil, meanwhile, offered words of encouragement to other teachers. “Congratulations for doing your best in your own unique and priceless efforts,” she said. “We are all in this together, as we are each other’s tower of strength.

“Thank you, EPI, for this opportunity,” she added. “I am forever indebted for what I have accomplished and established, and, of course, the family that I have here.”

During his time in the spotlight, Agcaoili recalled an early experience he had in the program. Five years ago, an EPI specialist asked him how he felt about teaching in the USA. “I told her with all might and pride that, ‘Teaching in the United States is like a walk in the park – without me knowing that park is actually a Jurassic Park,’” he said. “I can say that I was able to survive that journey … and I learned to love all of those little dinosaurs that I met along the way.

“I am immensely grateful to the whole EPI family, from the staff who never stop reaching out to each and every one of us, and to all of the EPI teachers, for their trust, encouragement, and for recognizing the efforts of every international teacher,” he continued. “As an EPI teacher of the year, I am more determined than ever to continue advocating for quality education and innovative teaching methods.”


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