Benjamin Kolodziej

by Lance Davis
U.S. Army

CAMP ZAMA, Japan - Benjamin Kolodziej, gifted education teacher, was named "District Teacher of the Year" for 2016-2017 by U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific's Japan District March 21 at Arnn Elementary on the Sagamihara Family Housing Area installation.

Col. William B. Johnson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, along with Lois Rapp, superintendent of DoDEA-Pacific Japan District, and Gwendolyn Baxter-Oakley, principal of Arnn, presented Kolodziej an award.

"This is an immense honor because we have so many highly qualified educators at Arnn who are deserving of this award," said Kologziej.

The District TOY winner said he shares the victory with his colleagues and students because he has learned so much from them.

"I think it is amazing to have a teacher on our staff selected for teacher of the year," said Baxter-Oakley. "He's very vital in our school community and quite deserving of the award."

Rapp said Kolodziej was selected for District TOY out of 30 applicants and nine finalists by a panel that included an education operations manager, curriculum specialist, principal, teacher and parent.

"He goes the extra mile for his students and his lessons are engaging with 21st century skills," said Rapp. "I would also say he makes learning fun for his students."

In addition, Rapp said his selection makes him a candidate for DoDEA TOY 2016-2017, which will be decided later in the spring.

As District TOY, Kolodziej will travel around Japan District to meet with other teachers to facilitate trainings and share best practices for the classroom, said Rapp.

"I'm happy to share standards that have worked in my classroom, but I also want to highlight what other teachers have shared with me and give them credit," said Kolodziej.

"Teaching isn't a solo game; it takes a village for our students and schools to be successful."

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