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Veteran and military spouse is defense schools' teacher of the year

June 21, 2016 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fort Benning, Georgia)

Note: This story was updated on June 22 to correct the spelling of Kelisa Wing's name.

A retired soldier's spouse who teaches eighth-grade English language arts at Faith Middle School at Fort Benning, Georgia, has been named the Department of Defense Education Activity Teacher of the Year.

Kelisa Wing, who is also an Army veteran, “truly represents what we all want in our educators, especially those who teach in DoDEA schools,” said Linda Curtis, DoDEA’s principal deputy director and associate director for education, in a statement announcing the selection. “She served in the military for six years and is a military spouse, and she can totally identify with our students, their lives, and the unique circumstances they experience — deployment of a parent, frequent moves and many transitions. She has been a secretary, an educational aide, an administrative officer, and a substitute teacher and she has a deep understanding how critical school support and educational support employees are to schools and to student success.”

Because Wing can identify with everyone in the school community, Curtis stated, “that empathy positively impacts her classroom every day and touches the lives of her students and her co-workers.”


Wing earned her bachelor's degree in English at the University of Maryland and a degree as an educational specialist (leadership, curriculum and instruction) from the University of Phoenix. She earned her master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Phoenix.

The DoDEA teacher of the year program recognizes teachers in pre-kindergarten through high school. Parents, students, peers, administrators or community members may nominate teachers. A panel uses specific criteria to select each district teacher of the year; 14 teachers were named District Teacher of the Year for 2017. Then teachers may apply to be considered for DoDEA Teacher of the Year.

Wing, who was the Georgia/Alabama District Teacher of the Year,  will now be considered in the nationwide competition for National Teacher of the Year, and will be recognized by the president at the White House next year.

Her activities as teacher of the year start in January, 2017; DoDEA makes its selection at the end of the school year, as do the states, because of the timeline for the selection process of the national competition.

The current DoDEA teacher of the year is Mary Hansen, a fourth- and fifth-grade science, technology, engineering and math teacher and instructional coach at Crossroads Elementary School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. She is married to a retired Army officer.  


Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at


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