10 Phenomenal Teachers Awarded

Posted on June 24th, 2011

Remarkable. Outstanding. Exceptional. Superb.

With strong recommendation, 10 of North America’s highest quality teachers were selected this spring by the Alumni Awards Foundation (AAF) to receive a 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Nominated by principals, superintendents, colleagues, and former students, the 10 teachers selected have been celebrated across the North American Division. AAF board members and staff have traveled from coast to coast to present each teacher with a $2,000 gift, medallion and Certificate of Excellence during special events hosted by the recipients’ schools. Colleagues, students and community members have had the opportunity to publicly thank the teachers for the impact they’ve had in their local schools. One remaining presentation for September is scheduled.

The finalists were chosen from 45 nominations received this year. The AAF staff and Selection Committee diligently considered each teacher, and what resulted was an impressive top 10.

“After reading the essays from the nominations and their supporting documents, my belief in the quality of teachers that we have in our schools has been strengthened,” said Roo McKenzie, Southeastern California Conference Evangelist for Education. AAF appointed McKenzie to serve on this year’s Selection Committee. “Adventist Christian Education has some superstar teachers indeed.”

Robert Nobuhara, a 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient from Monterey Bay Academy, was also on this year’s Selection Committee. Nobuhara said what he appreciated most of all about the candidates was that many if not all of them strongly focused their teaching to connect their students to Jesus Christ.

AAF’s Selection Committee of six agreed that choosing the final 10 was challenging. In fact, committee members said it took several rounds of voting to determine the finalists.

“I had to go with my heart to make the selections, but it was very difficult,” said Arpad Soo, Selection Committee Chairman and AAF Board Member. “We have so many outstanding teachers this year, and they all deserve an award. It’s a thrilling experience to read and see what these educators are doing. My congratulations to our 10 recipients this year.”

AAF is a nonprofit organization that has awarded grants for Adventist education totaling more than $1.4 million. The organization has recognized 106 exceptional teachers with an Excellence in Teaching Award since its establishment in 1995. AAF partners with educators, church officials and philanthropists to develop and fund programs that awaken the full potential in Adventist education.

The AAF Board of Directors includes individuals who have become leaders in their communities and professions. AAF board members say they draw inspiration from their common heritage in Adventist schools. Their major objective is to strengthen and reward quality Adventist education, and foster the means for school improvements in Adventist K-12 schools.


  • Steven Atkins, Andrews Academy, Michigan Conference
  • Sonia Barrett, Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist School, Greater New York Conference
  • Steve Baughman, Highland Academy, Kentucky-Tennessee Conference
  • Vivian Beierle, Mission Hills Christian School, Northern California Conference
  • David Goymer, Paradise Adventist Academy, Northern California Conference
  • James Marxmiller, Mountain View Academy, Central California Conference
  • Gordon Miller, Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary, Potomac Conference
  • Mark Smith, Portland Adventist Academy, Oregon Conference
  • Keren Taccone, West Palm Beach Junior Academy, Florida Conference
  • Wendie Warren, Bermuda Institute of Seventh-day Adventists, Bermuda Conference

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2 Responses to “10 Phenomenal Teachers Awarded”

  1. Marie Seard says:

    Questions. Who are the members of the Staff and Selection Committee? Was the information/applications given to all Academies/colleges/universities or just academies?

    Can you elaborate on the criteria for the selection?

    Thanks for our response.

    • admin says:

      Hi Marie,

      We send nomination packets by mail and email every October to all academies and elementary schools in the North American Division. (There are about 800 of them!) Any full-time elementary or academy teacher is eligible for this award. We also post the nomination forms to this website so the public can download. (The “Nominate a teacher” link has been disabled until October, when we will post the 2012 nomination information.) Anyone can nominate a teacher- last year we had a teacher who was nominated by his students.

      I would be happy to email you a copy of last year’s application packet so you can see the kinds of things we look for. In addition to application forms, we require 2 letters and support and a statement from the nominee. In answer to you question on the Selection Committee- you can read about them in a previous blog entry here
      Also, you can read about our staff members here

      Thank you so much for your interest! I hope you will consider nominating a teacher for 2012.
      -Melanie Litchfield, AAF Director

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