Excellence In Teaching Awards

Every year the top Adventist teachers in North America were selected every spring by the Alumni Awards Foundation (AAF) to receive an Excellence in Teaching Award. With nominations from principals, superintendents, colleagues, and former students, there were always dozens of outstanding teachers to consider.

“It was so great to read how much the nominators respected the teachers they were nominating,” said Riley Graves, who oversaw the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Awards program at AAF. “Many of the applications were inspiring and moved me to tears.”

Each year, a selection committee met several times in order to narrow down the applications to choose the top ten teachers. This committee included an award recipient from the prior year, several AAF board members and staff, and Seventh-day Adventist educators.

“It makes me feel a sense of pride to read about all the wonderful accomplishments of my peers,” said Sonia Barrett, a 2011 award recipient. Barrett found the Excellence in Teaching Awards to be “a tremendous tribute and a great motivator for us [educators] to keep the standard of Adventist education at its highest.”

AAF awarded teachers that stand out among the rest, going above and beyond to impact their students lives. Some past recipient accomplishments include: growing an elementary school with 35 students to an academy with 80 students, taking a stand against bullying, creating a Fitness Expedition program after personally losing 200 pounds, increasing test scores among students, and led students in winning a fantasy football competition that brought in $1,000 prize—just to name a few.

“Every year we find incredibly creative teachers that are raising the bar,” said Melanie Litchfield, former AAF Director. “We hope in recognizing their accomplishments, we can inspire all of Adventist education.”

In May and June, the teachers were celebrated across the North American Division. AAF board members and staff travel 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. Each year, we partnered with Adventist universities to be able to provide these awards. We would like to thank all the universities who made these awards possible.

Colleagues, students and community members had the opportunity to publicly thank the teachers for the impact they’ve made in their local schools. Each award presentation was meaningful experiences for the recipient, audience and award presenter. AAF board member, Dr. Joan Coggin, presented an award at Bermuda Institute in 2012 and deemed it an honor to be a part of such an inspiring event.

“When I announced the name of the honoree, Ruth Hetsberger, total pandemonium burst forth,” recalls Coggin. “The graduates and students jumped to their feet and the building rocked with applause, roars of delight, yelling and/or screaming. I have never seen anything like that!”

AAF is a nonprofit organization working to improve Adventist K-12 education. It has awarded grants totaling more than $2 million to Adventist schools and educators. Since its establishment in 1995, the organization has recognized 106 exceptional teachers with an Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2011, AAF created the Renaissance Network, an initiative that improves the level of excellence in Adventist schools by providing leadership expertise, vision, resources and training. AAF aims to awaken the Adventist community to the full potential in Adventist education.

2018 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Dr. Larry Blackmer, North American Division Vice President for Education
  • Pat Goff, Ephesus Junior Academy
  • Stacie Schepers, A.W. Spaulding Elementary
  • Toakase Vunileva, Mile High Academy
  • Stephen Lundquist, Portland Adventist Academy
2016 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Rondi Aastrup Reynolds, Thunderbird Adventist Academy
  • Linda Kline, Thunderbird Adventist Academy
2014 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
2013 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Jim Minty, Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary School , Potomac Conference
  • Oliver Morada, Thunderbird Adventist Academy, Arizona Conference
  • Ophelia Barizo, Highland View Academy, Chesapeake Conference
  • Guadalupe Negrete, El Dorado Adventist School, Northern California Conference
  • Rachel Simons, Richmond Academy, Potomac Conference
  • Catherine Farkas, Middletown Christian School of Seventh-day Adventist, Greater New York Conference
  • Tanya Stotz, San Fernando Valley Academy, Southern California Conference
  • Reymelinda Villaruel, Jackson Heights Seventh-day Adventist School, Greater New York Conference
  • Olga Simmons, New Hope Seventh-day Adventist School, Greater New York Conference
  • Sara Guzik, Echo Ridge Christian School, Northern California Conference
2012 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Ruth Hetsberger, Bermuda Institute of Seventh-day Adventists, Bermuda Conference
  • Chris Juhl, Louisville Adventist Academy, Kentucky-Tennessee Conference
  • Kristian Leukert, Monterey Bay Academy, Central California Conference
  • Jay Linthicum, Loma Linda Academy, Southeastern California Conference
  • Norman Niles, Pine Forge Academy, Allegheny East Conference
  • Anita Roberts, Lake City Junior Academy, Upper Columbia Conference
  • Kimberly Terry, John Nevins Andrews School, Potomac Conference
  • Diana Tunnell, Central Vermont Academy, Northern New England Conference
  • Joan Waite, Forest City Adventist School, Florida Conference
  • Amber Willis, Miami Union Academy, Southeastern Conference
2011 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • 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
2010 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Verna Canaday, Tri-City Junior Academy, Upper Columbia Conference
  • Janel Fields, V.Lindsay Seventh-day Adventist School, Central States Conference
  • Patricia Fulton, Bermuda Institute, Bermuda Conference
  • Robert Nobuhara, Monterey Bay Academy, Central California Conference
  • Carol Oster, Olney Adventist Preparatory School, Potomac Conference
  • Tammy Overstreet, Osceola Adventist Christian School, Florida Conference
  • Patricia Thompson, Alcy Seventh-day Adventist Junior Academy, South-Central Conference
  • Gelena Renee Turner, Dallas Christian Academy, Texas Conference
  • Sara Willard, Summit Christian Academy, Nevada-Utah Conference
  • Jerry Zappia, El Dorado Adventist School, Northern California Conference
2009 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Coleen Birkett, Bermuda Institute
  • Rudy Carlson, Stone Ridge Christian
  • Melissa Galetti, Linda Vista Adventist Academy Elementary School
  • Cheri Gregory, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Randy Heilman, Collegedale Academy
  • Carrie Hess, Spencerville Academy
  • Rusty Litten, Orlando Junior Academy
  • Amy Marcarian, Glendale Adventist Academy
  • Cindy McCaw, Salt Lake Junior Academy
  • Arthur Miller, Holbrook Indian School
  • Nancy Shoonover, El Dorado Adventist School
  • Susan Whitely, Cascade Christian Academy
2008 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Myrna Candelaria, Takoma Academy
  • Melinda Danesky, Glendale Adventist Academy
  • Janice Deibel, Galt Adventist Christian Elementary
  • Tamara Dell’Erba, Kingsway College
  • Vicki Downer, Cascade Christian Academy
  • Shannon Fisher, Cascade Christian Academy
  • Janice Harford, Okanagan Adventist Academy
  • Richard Hickam, Collegedale Academy
  • Steve McClain, La Sierra Academy
  • Harold Williams, Campion Academy
  • Tim Zytkoskee, Monterey Bay Academy
2007 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Donna Baerg, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Heather Blaire, Mile High Academy
  • Val Blue, Desert Adventist School
  • Scott Bowes, Kingsway College
  • David Carter, Great Lakes Academy
  • Sonia Dawes, Bermuda Institute
  • John Deming, Walla Walla Valley Academy
  • John Facundo, El Dorado Academy
  • Gayle Haeger, Upper Columbia Academy
  • Stan Hobbs, Atlanta Academy
  • Caryl Patten, Glendale Elementary
  • Jennifer Payne, Highland View Academy
2006 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Philip Binkley, Loma Linda Academy
  • Gordon Davis, Walker Memorial Academy
  • Kay Kierstead, Kingsway College
  • Amy Miller, Newbury Park Academy
  • Stan Miller, Minnetonka Christian Academy
  • Jacques Patterson, Greater New York Academy
  • Donald Slocum, Shenandoah Valley Academy
  • Steve Walls, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Jeff Youker, El Dorado Adventist School
  • Roo McKenzie (Excellence in Leadership), Loma Linda Academy
2005 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Matthew Butte, Columbia Adventist Academy
  • Christine Dudley, Redlands Adventist Academy
  • Roman Hintz, Walla Walla Valley Academy
  • Carolyn Jensen, Forest Lake Academy
  • Tim Kubrock, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Stephen Laing, Loma Linda Academy
  • Craig Mohr, Glendale Adventist Academy
  • Alfred Riddle, Mesa Grande Academy
  • Jennifer Schmidt, Rio Lindo Adventist Academy
2004 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Robert Baerg, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Bruce Bellchambers, Mount Vernon Academy
  • Jeff Bovee, Milo Adventist Academy
  • Milo Heinrich, Mesa Grande Academy
  • Sarah Henderson, Thunderbird Adventist Academy
  • Millene “Sietie”Heslop, Great Lakes Adventist Academy
  • Jerry Lange, Upper Columbia Academy
  • Jeffrey K. Lauritzen, Collegedale Academy
  • Arnaldo Mercado, Bermuda Institute
  • Tom McNeilus, Shenandoah Valley Academy
  • Brenda Mohr, Glendale Adventist Academy
  • Randy Norton, El Dorado Adventist School
  • Harley Peterson, Pine Hills Adventist School
  • Anderson Sandiford, Loma Linda Academy
  • Melia Williams, Campion Academy
2003 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
  • Elizabeth Baerg, Monterey Bay Academy
  • Kevin Bisson, South Lancaster Academy
  • Delmas Campbell, Pine Forge Academy
  • Karen Clark, Bass Memorial Academy
  • John Feltman, Mount Vernon Academy
  • Ruthie Gage, Las Vegas Jr Academy
  • Kathy Goddard, Collegeview Academy
  • Sandra Gross, Glendale Academy
  • Tom Lee, Columbia Academy
  • Chris Morris, Thunderbird Academy
  • Jynean Reid, Greater Atlanta Academy
  • Kerrie Schnell, Spring View Academy
  • Marsha Serafin, Sand Diego Academy
  • Terry Sole, Gem State Academy
  • Kathy Trumper, Highland Academy
  • Roger Vanatta, Mile High Academy
  • Mason West, Bermuda Institute

Visit our Excellence In Teaching Photo Album

Stay Connected

Don't worry, we never send SPAM


Stay Connected
(*) Denotes a required field.