Air Force Association Keystone Chapter selects DoDEA Teacher of the Year

Air Force Association Keystone Chapter selects DoDEA Teacher of the Year

by Lawrence Torres III
DoDEA Pacific

OKINAWA, Japan – Maryanne Tirinnanzi, secondary science teacher at Lester Middle School, was recently selected as the The Air Force Association Keystone Chapter and State Teacher of the Year.

The AFA, a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association, presented Tirinnanzi with two checks for $750 dollars for the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, certificates, a jacket, and a state Teacher of the Year pin.

Tirinnanzi, who has been teaching for 30 years, has helped many students attain national level recognition in Science, Engineering, Technology and Math programs like the DuPont Challenge and e-Cybermission. She looks forward to going to her classroom every day and staying current on science topics and strategies to enhance learning for students of all abilities.

“I believe it’s a privilege to teach the children of our active duty military and their support staff, and I am aware of the sacrifices the families make to support their military sponsors,” said Tirinnanzi, a former Air Force child who lived overseas. “I also believe that students need to be challenged in a positive manner and learn real-world skills from their group projects that are a major focus in my classes of 8th grade students.”

She started working for the Veteran's Administration as a Biology tutor for Vietnam Veterans in 1980 while attending St. Mary's University of San Antonio. Working with the military veterans at the university level planted the seed to continue her college education in teaching. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she was hired at her old junior high school in Rockville, Md. to teach various secondary subjects. In 2000, Tirinnanzi accepted a position teaching high school in South Korea with DoDEA.

Last year, one of Tirinnanzi’s eighth-grade students earned runner up out of 10,000 entries for the junior division in the 2015 DuPont Challenge Essay Competition. In addition, three other students earned honorable mentions and received treasury bonds and DuPont science-related prizes.

“Due to my student's second place finish, I was honored with a trip to NASA and Disney World to receive a teaching award of excellence,” Tirinnanzi said. “My student not only won $3,000 dollars, but also the trip for himself, his family and me. It was the dream of a lifetime that was made possible because I listened to the advice of our Instructional Systems Specialist, Marla Kimmel!”

This year, Tirinnanzi students had four more honorable mentions with the DuPont Challenge and eight of her students won nearly $11,000 dollars in treasury bonds for their eCybermission on-line science fair projects.

The Stars and Stripes global edition highlighted the work of eight of her students who are currently writing a paper for submission to a secondary science publication, the “Journal of Emerging Investigators,” for their findings in their long-term mealworm/Darkling beetle study.

“If I can get my middle school students published by a peer-reviewed journal such as one maintained by Harvard, that would be my greatest accomplishment to date,” Tirinnanzi added. “I thank DODEA for allowing me educational leave several years ago to earn another advanced life science degree that has taught me more about technology and subject content. Consequently, this additional degree has improved my teaching in STEM.”

About Keystone Air Force Assocation:
The Air Force Association (AFA) is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. AFA publishes Air Force Magazine, conducts national symposium and disseminates information through outreach programs. It sponsors professional development seminars and recognizes excellence in the education and aerospace fields through national awards programs. AFA presents scholarships and grants to Air Force active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members and their dependents; and awards educator grants to promote science and math education at the elementary and secondary school level.

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