The Cape Henlopen School District will announce its 2023 Teacher of the Year May 3, at a special celebration honoring teachers earning building-level honors and their invited guests.
Teachers vying for the top honor represent the following schools: Joseph Vavala, Beacon Middle; Rony Flechier, Cape High; Cherylyn Minto, H.O. Brittingham Elementary; Joseph Rupar, Love Creek Elementary; Christina Hastings, Mariner Middle; Hannah Pepper, Milton Elementary; Dawn Dorman, Rehoboth Elementary; Devon Reber, Shields Elementary; and Jessica Eriksen, Sussex Consortium.
The district Teacher of the Year will compete for the 2023 Delaware Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in the fall.
Beacon Middle’s Joseph Vavala has taught math for 14 years, for the past eight years at Beacon and previously in the Milford School District. A 2002 Cape High grad, Vavala started the Beacon boys’ lacrosse program and remains head coach. He holds a master’s degree in applied technology in education and is working on his second master’s in instructional design and technology.
Cape High math teacher Rony Flechier was selected Teacher of the Year twice for Seaford High before joining Cape in August 2018. Flechier holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in industrial engineering, and a doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in educational technology.
H.O. Brittingham Elementary art teacher Cherylyn Minto has 21 years of experience teaching elementary art. She began her career in the Caesar Rodney School District, where she was named Teacher of the Year during her time at Welch Elementary. Minto received a bachelor of fine arts degree, an art education K-12 certification and a master of instruction degree in educational technology.
Love Creek Elementary fifth-grade math teacher Joseph Rupar holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in school leadership. Rupar is a member of the School Improvement Team, Leader in Me Lighthouse committee and is team leader of the Culture Action Team. Rupar is co-facilitator of the Student Leadership Team and organizer of an after-school soccer club for more than 60 fourth- and fifth-graders. Rupar is the boys’ varsity assistant coach at Cape High.
Mariner Middle science teacher Christina Hastings is currently working toward a master's degree in instruction, teaching and learning. Hastings has participated in a residential, environmental and educational program for more than 10 years at Cape Henlopen State Park, where students stay overnight to learn about diversity in ecosystems in Delaware and take on the roles of ecologists, biologists, entomologists and marine ecologists.
Milton Elementary first-grade teacher Hannah Pepper sets high, but achievable, expectations for her students and ensures all students have support needed to be successful. Pepper works to foster a strong sense of community where students support one another and understand the concept of synergy and thinking win-win. Pepper develops confident learners who take risks because they are taught to see the value of effort and hard work, and the power of learning from mistakes.
Rehoboth Elementary first-grade teacher Dawn Dorman has more than 30 years of experience as a Cape district educator. Dorman holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a certification in special education. Dorman serves as coordinator for Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids, is the first-grade team leader, and is a member of the wellness committee. She is incoming president of Delta Kappa Gamma, Iota Nu chapter, an honors teaching sorority.
Devon Reber, Shields Elementary ILC teacher for grades three through five, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education. Reber was a co-director in Shields’ production of “Seussical the Musical,” got the Girls on the Run program up and running, and volunteered her time for a season of Let Me Run. She also started the Brew Crew program for her class, where students take coffee orders, collect money and fulfill orders for staff on Fridays.
Sussex Consortium pre-K teacher Jessica Eriksen received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in special education. She has since been a Sussex Consortium teacher for 15 years, working first in elementary grades and for the last six years in the preschool program. Eriksen serves as Pyramid support team member, School Improvement Team member, and as mentor to first- and second-year teachers in the district mentoring program.