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Fri, 22 Sep 2023 02:23:21 -0500
2018-05-08 Print

The Goddard School Annual Teacher of the Year Awards Honor Six Remarkable Early Childhood Educators

Educators Recognized for Their Unique Contributions to Their Classrooms and Communities during National Teacher Appreciation Week


Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School®, the nation’s premier preschool system focusing on learning through play for children six weeks to six years old, has chosen the recipients of the twelfth annual Teacher of the Year awards. During National Teacher Appreciation Week, which takes place from May 1 to May 5, six leading preschool educators from four Goddard School locations across the U.S. will each be presented with a plaque to commemorate their passion for teaching, dedication to learning and love for their classrooms and local communities.

The Goddard School’s Teacher of the Year award honors educators in its preschool system who have developed compelling programs and projects that benefit their classrooms, Schools or communities. Projects from this year’s selected teachers include a sign language initiative to enrich the learning and social life of students with hearing disabilities; Tigers’ Year of Giving, a project designed to foster a better sense of community and encourage giving to others; Wonders of Hershey, a local project designed to connect students with their community by helping them learn about an influential leader in their area; and a program that lets students explore a variety of different ways of learning while providing opportunities for children of all academic abilities.

“We are so proud to announce the outstanding recipients of this year’s award and acknowledge them for their passion and dedication. Through innovative programs and projects, their work inspires future generations,” says Dr. Craig Bach, vice president of Education at GSI. “At The Goddard School, educators have a unique and engaging approach to teaching that helps children gain pivotal skills to prepare them for a successful future.”

GSI is honoring the following teachers:

Heather Lisbona – Hendersonville, TN

Heather Lisbona, a junior kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Hendersonville, TN, integrated sign language into her teaching program and expanded the School’s current sign language curriculum to assist a new student in her class who is hard of hearing. As a result, the student was able to communicate effectively with his peers and acclimated to the classroom and curriculum, and the other students learned a new skill and gained an appreciation of various ways of learning. Additionally, Heather leads a school-wide charity program to support a local cause within the community each month. Past activities include food, clothing and book drives, 5K races and United Way penny wars.

Mary Kirkwood and Alison Haller – Urbana, MD

Mary Kirkwood and Alison Haller, teachers at The Goddard School located in Urbana, MD, introduced Tigers’ Year of Giving to help children develop a better sense of community and teach them the importance of giving to others. Each month, the teachers engage the children in discussions and brainstorming sessions what areas of giving they would like to focus on for the month. The children then work with their teachers to create boxes, posters and flyers outlining their plan for giving that month. At the end of each month, the children and teachers sort the items into boxes and prepare them for the chosen charity. The teachers and children then discuss their thoughts and feelings about the success of that month’s community project.

Christin Campbell and Courtney Goodburlet - Hershey, PA

Christin Campbell and Courtney Goodburlet, teachers at The Goddard School located in Hershey, PA, introduced the Wonders of Hershey program to build a better sense of community among the students and parents. The teachers created the program because they believed that by learning about Milton Hershey, who founded the Hershey chocolate company, the students would become interested in their local community. As part of the program, students supported a range of charities, such as the Ronald McDonald House, which assists families in need around the world, including families in the Hershey Medical Center. The students, parents and teachers at The Goddard School collected and donated items for those families during their time of need. The program taught the students what it means to be good citizens in their community and how to give back. The program also included field trips to Hershey’s Chocolate World and Zoo America.

Amanda Olenwine, Gaithersburg, MD

Amanda Olenwine, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Gaithersburg, MD, differentiated her lesson plans to cater to the diverse styles of learning her students have. She encourages students to explore different ways of learning with highly engaging, hands-on activities in small groups. For example, when they are practicing sight words, she will let them choose whether to write the words in sand, build them with yarn and glue or play a bean bag toss game. Her unique and effective lesson plans engage children in the learning process.

For more information on The Goddard School, please visit

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About The Goddard School®
Learning for fun. Learning for life.®
Celebrating 30 years of continued growth in early childhood education, The Goddard School uses the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, comprised of acknowledged experts in various fields of early childhood education, contributes to the development of The Goddard School’s F.L.EX.® Learning Program (Fun Learning Experience), which helps children explore and discover their interests in a safe, nurturing environment. Goddard Systems, Inc., the franchisor of The Goddard School, earned AdvancED Corporation Accreditation and Middle States Corporate Accreditation for meeting high standards in early learning, child development and childcare. The Goddard School serves more than 65,000 students ages six weeks to six years in more than 480 Goddard Schools in 36 states and is poised to open its 500th School in 2018. To learn more about The Goddard School, please visit

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