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Vilseck Elementary School teacher named teacher of the year

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Gretchen Wall has been a teacher for Department of Defense Dependent Schools for 22 of her 26-year teaching career.

The 2008-2009 school year was her first year teaching at Vilseck Elementary School in more than 20 years. The impact she has made on her students and parents since her return to VES led to her 2010 Bavaria District Teacher of the Year nomination.

Wall is currently teaching Preschool for Disabled Children at VES. “It’s really an honor because you get to be a spokesperson and really talk about some of the things that are going on in intervention,” Wall said. Vilseck Teacher

She is also currently working for Department of Defense Education Activity on a Language Arts task force that covers Pre-K through 12th-grade. The task force is designed to make changes that will improve Language Arts education for students.

Nancy Hammack, VES principal, explained that Wall was nominated by one of the parents of her students because of her exceptional work and dedication to her students in her daily teaching. She said Wall works closely with early childhood educators within the community to ensure that students are identified and provided with appropriate services for their individual needs. “Ms. Wall demonstrates all the attributes of a caring, thoughtful educator ... She works closely with the parents to make sure the students are being successful and growing to their greatest potential,” Hammack said.

DoDDS will sponsor Wall’s trip as the Bavaria District winner to compete in the DoDEA National Competition this fall in Washington, D.C. The competition covers district winners from military schools across the globe who will compete for DoDEA Teacher of the Year. Wall has to compile a series of essays about herself and her thoughts on education for the National competition.

If Wall wins the DoDEA competition she will advance to Nationals. Wall has taught PSCD, kindergarten, first-grade and Reading Recovery. Wall has also been a Reading Improvement Specialist and a Reading Language Arts Specialist. She said she finds it important to have a wide variety of skills so that she can help children succeed, whether they need Special Education or regular classroom learning. “I’ve worked both ends and ... it provides a broader understanding of what students need to succeed,” Wall said. “We are here to ensure that students get what they need to be successful.” Wall has taught in many places around Germany.

She taught at VES from 1985-87 and then returned this school year after teaching in Babenhausen, Hanau, Rhein Main, and Wiesbaden. Wall was born and raised in Tucson, Ariz. where she taught prior to becoming a DoDDS school teacher. She earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and her graduate degree in language and literacy at the University of Arizona. Wall received her Special Education Certification from the University of Maryland.


Photo Cutline: Pre-schoolers Joshua Rojas (left) and Tatum Racine play with 2010 Bavarian District Teacher of the Year Gretchen Wall in Wall’s classroom at Vilseck Elementary School.


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