Bolden’s own wins DoDEA Teacher of the Year

12 Oct 2007 | Cpl. Jenn Eagelman

Thousands of schools make up the Department of Defense Education Activity system. Each one of those schools has a small army of dedicated teachers walking their hallways, giving every student the chance to shine.

They help patch-up ‘boo-boos’ as much as they ensure every child understands the importance of a balanced diet or knows the name of all seven continents. However, much of the time, a teacher’s efforts can go unnoticed.

Then again Michelle Hrabanek, the health and physical education teacher at Laurel Bay’s Bolden Elementary School and the district recipient of DoDEA District Teacher of the Year award, has never been one to shy away from the public eye.

“It is such a wonderful honor,” Hrabanek said sitting back in her white running suit, nodding her head with a huge ear-to-ear grin on her face. “I was so excited when I found out I was the recipient this year. I work towards this every year and throughout the school year I evaluate myself and think ‘what is going to make me a better teacher, how else can I reach my students?’ Plus every teacher wants to be recognized for excellence in teaching.”

A good job is an understatement. Hrabanak has had a key role in implementing multiple new practices at Bolden. A walking program she started three years ago has not only brought students and parents closer together, but they have walked more than 18,000 miles. She is readily available during student’s lunch period to provide on-the-spot lessons about how nutritious their lunch is and what can make it better for them, if they desire.

“She is a joy to work with because of all her enthusiasm,” said Dr. Jacque Taton, the principal at Bolden Elementary. “All of our teachers here do a wonderful job, but she does deserve it and we are very happy for her.”

Hrabanek does not limit her enthusiasm to the classroom. When she is not at work, she is volunteering with the community for events like Relay For Life and the March of Dimes. She also plays tennis competitively with leagues in both Savannah and Hilton Head and all of the children have an open invitation to come and watch.

“Taking teaching to the next level is so important,” Hrabanek said. “It’s one thing to see these kids for an hour a day, but it means so much more to see them outside of the school. If a student invites me to their games, I try really hard to make it to at least one. When I go for a run at the end of the day, I make sure to go where I know they can see me exercising and practicing what I preach. It’s important to take it to the next step.”

Her platform for teaching, called “Semper Fi, Semper Fit; Always Faithful, Always Fit,“ is what helped her to not only receive the title of DoDEA District Teacher of the Year but to also become a finalist for Teacher of the World. Hrabanek’s enthusiasm and passion for what she does has made her a stellar example for the teaching community.