A Vicenza Middle School teacher was awarded Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Teacher of the Year for 2019.
While dressed in full space attire with a rocket-ship-wielding headband at the Vicenza Elementary/Middle School Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics fair, Anna Sansome, a seventh grade science teacher, took a call from the DoDEA director informing her of earning the highest honor a DoDEA teacher can receive.
"I was in my element, and this landed in my lap, I am just absolutely embracing it," said Sansone. "I am incredibly humbled to be given this honor."
Sansone said the award was a surprise and she is still wrapping her head around it.
Angela Wilson, colleague and DoDEA Teacher of the Year 2012, said Sansone is entirely worthy of the award.
"Like all good teachers she didn't expect to win -- that's what makes her exceptional, too. I don't know if she knows how great she is," said Wilson.
Sansone is an incredibly energetic teacher who stands out not only for creating explosions in the classroom but also for her passion and love of teaching, she added.
Working tirelessly as a teacher, Sansone is also the DoDEA Europe Science Department Leader, Doctor of Philosophy student, a member of the leadership team for school improvement, and facilitates meetings with DoDEA Europe teachers in other countries.
"Teaching is a hard profession; you don't ever put it aside," said Sansone. "I am thinking about my students or the lessons I'm going to teach them pretty much 24 hours a day."
Sansone said her love and drive for teaching stems from her experiences as a young student herself, and teaching runs in her blood.
"I have always known that I wanted to become a teacher. My mom is a teacher, my dad is a teacher, my aunts and uncles are teachers," said Sansone. "I just don't think I was meant to do anything else, in my blood."
The middle school teacher said the lessons learned from former teachers has helped in her own career.
"The ability to take joy in small things, the desire to always stay fresh by continually doing new things, and just the constant sense that what I do is a gift," said Sansone.
With explosions, field trips and hands-on activities, Sansone keeps her students engaged.
"We're always doing hands-on activities," said Shalom Dejarim, one of her students. "Around the room, there are posters and colors, and everything we need to know that is going on is on the walls."
Although the honor was a surprise to her, it wasn't to her colleagues.
"She has a true passion for teaching; it is evident in just listening to her speak. She has a love for kids and makes her lessons extremely engaging," said Wilson. "She relates to the kids at their level and her content knowledge of her subject matter is immense."
Sansone said she doesn't like to put herself on a pedestal -- that her title of Teacher of the Year is bestowed not only on her, but also on the school as a whole.
"It was really amazing to see how excited my students were when they found out I had been chosen; I am incredibly grateful that is something not just for me, but rather that it's something that represents the work that all of us do in this building," she said.