Past IEY Winners
Amanda Ledwon, an educator of Denton Ryan High School since 2019, has been named the 2023 International Educator of the Year (IEY) by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. Ledwon has been associated with the Council for over seven years and an educator for more than twenty years.
Ledwon is described as having a “passion, dedication, and love for having students involved in the international community.” Each year, she reads the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to her students to educate them about this important global topic.Through her teaching she has inspired one of her former students to pursue both an undergraduate and graduate degree in human rights.
Marci Deal Smith
The 2022 International Educator of the year recipient was Marci Smith Deal of the HEB school district. The Council is thrilled with this selection, as she has been involved with the Global Young Leaders program since its inception and helped shape it into the success it is today.
Marci is a lifelong educator, committed to international education. She was a consultant for the National Geographic Society and “became a premier social studies trainer for geography education, doing hands-on workshops all over Texas and the U.S.” according to one of her references.
Currently serving as a district social studies coordinator, Marci has involved the entirety of her school district, as well as surrounding districts, in the activities of the World Affairs Council, establishing a district hub for WAC trainings and lectures. This award celebrates her strong partnership and commitment to global learning.
Maria Viera-Williams of the Richardson Independent School District was honored as 2021 International Educator of the Year. Viera-Williams is an English and ESL teacher at Lake Highlands High School. She is the founder and senior co-sponsor of the school’s Junior World Affairs Council, active since 2014. The Lake Highlands Junior World Affairs Council was named Most Active Junior World Affairs Chapter in 2019 and 2020. There are more than 60 Junior World Affairs Council chapters in area public, private and charter schools.
“The Junior World Affairs Council Chapter has played a significant role in global awareness among students, faculty and staff for the past seven years. As the founder and senior co-sponsor, I have been intensely committed to providing students with informative programs that raise awareness on current, past, and future world issues as well as exposure to presenters with international expertise,” said Viera-Williams. Lake Highlands High School Principal Kerri Jones said, “Mrs. Viera-Williams is a master of all of the ingredients of successful teaching and leadership.”
For more than 20 years, Greg Hill has inspired his students to think beyond their hometowns. An educator at Mesquite ISD’s Dr. John D. Horn High School since 2001, Hill teaches AP Human Geography, World History and American Cultural Studies.
At the 2016 National Conference on Geography Education, Hill was named a distinguished teacher (K-12) by the National Council for Geographic Education. The following year, he spent one month in Ecuador and Peru as the only social studies teacher in the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program with the Center for Latin American Studies. Hill has also traveled to multiple other countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. He is currently a fellow at the American Geographical Society and a teacher consultant for Texas Alliance of Geographic Educators. In 2019, he presented “Travel Away Your Ignorance” at an independently organized TED event in Mashpee, MA.
Hill holds a B.A. in Sociology (1993) and a M.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences (1997) from Southern Methodist University. He is a member of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth where he is highly engaged in international education programming, and also serves as Horn High School’s JWAC sponsor. He manages two Facebook groups for other educators, AP Human Geography Teachers of Texas and World Geography Teachers of Texas, which provide a forum for teachers to share teaching materials with one another to ensure their students are receiving the most engaging and interesting education possible.
Wendy Seeliger-Dietschweiler, a social studies teacher and department chair from Lewisville High School- Harmon Campus, has been named 2019 International Educator of the Year (IEY) by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. Seelinger- Dietschweiler has been teaching for 22 years and more than 12 years in Lewisville ISD where she has been awarded teacher of the year as well. “Nothing brings me greater joy than to see my students go beyond themselves and work towards making the world a far better place.” says Seelinger- Dietschweiler.
John Scott is a classroom teacher in economics, US History, and American Studies who has been with Plano West Senior High School since its inception in 1999. He is a 3-time national Academic WorldQuest competition-winning coach from 2013, 2014, and 2017. President Vincente Fox is this year’s featured speaker about education and leadership at the luncheon.
Dr. Michael Roemer
Dr. Michael Roemer is a classroom teacher who also is the creator and director of the Trinity Valley School’s K-12 Global Initiatives program designed to, as he explains, “make the world a classroom—for me, for our students and for our teachers.” Dr. Robert Gates spoke about leadership at the luncheon.
Gabriel Valdez, a veteran World Cultures teacher and department chair at Fort Worth Independent School District’s Rosemont Sixth Grade Center, says he can relate to the hundreds of students at Rosemont because he, too, came from an at-risk background. “Luckily, I had a series of great mentors who helped me look beyond the immediacy of the local environment and see myself in the outside world.” As a result, he says, “My classroom always goes beyond just another worksheet.” Mr. Valdez attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio where he graduated with a BA in History, along with a MA in History from University of Texas at El Paso.
Juliann Warner & Rhonda Pugh
In 2004, Arlington Martin High School teacher Juliann Warner asked colleague Rhonda Pugh to join her in a project to bring the world to students. Together these dedicated educators created the first Junior World Affairs Council, a concept now thriving on nearly 50 North Texas campuses. Both teachers are members of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
JULIANN WARNER, Arlington ISD Educator since 1974
(Retired – Arlington Martin High School, World Geography and Advanced Placement World and European History)
“History and World Affairs are my passions. I hope that at the end of the year my students will say that they learned some history in my class, but my fondest wish is that they will say that they enjoy history because of the class.”
RHONDA PUGH, Arlington ISD Educator since 1993
(Arlington Martin High School, English for Second Language Learners, Economics)
“My goal in educating is to create a foundation for a lifetime of learning, and I work to help students understand the intricate meshing of geography, history, economics in today’s world.”
Ms. Cecilia M. Nipp is the Director of Global Relationships and Cultural Exchange at Ursuline Academy of Dallas. She is a member of Ursuline’s leadership team and has been a school administrator since 2002. Ms. Nipp was a teacher of Spanish, Chair of the Department of World Languages and Dean of Students at Ursuline Academy prior to beginning her current role in 2006. She has taught Spanish at both the high school level and the university level. Ms. Nipp attended the University of Dallas where she graduated with a BA in Spanish Language as well as Middlebury College where she obtained an MA in Spanish Language and Literature.
Bhavani Parpia works at Hurst-Euless-Bedford schools as the district International Business Initiative coordinator, responsible for designing, developing, and implementing their Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic programs. Bhavani has also worked as one of the instructors for the World Affairs Council’s teacher training programs. She is a representative of International Baccalaureate Americas as their site visitor and consultant. In 2000, Bhavani started the Primary School at North Hills Preparatory, in Irving, Texas, and then worked as their Advanced Academics Coordinator, curriculum director, and college counselor. In 2011, she led a group of teachers on a Fulbright-Hays project to India as the Curriculum Development Specialist. She holds a Masters of Science in Sociology from Virginia Tech. She recently started a nonprofit called ConnecTeach that trains teachers in poor areas around the world. www.ConnecTeach.org
Anna Sifford has a Masters in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University in New Jersey 2006 with her undergrad split between NYU and SMU – BA in Journalism and Political Science 1998. She attended Booker T. Washington HS and teaches at North Hills Prep. She is the JWAC sponsor and was a delegate for T.E.A.C.H. to Saudi Arabia/Qatar, She visited India and Europe with students and Morocco with WAC. She is also one of the 2013 Marshall Memorial Fellows and will spend a month traveling and studying in Europe. Before teaching, she worked for 7 years at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (NYC) and worked one year at Dow Jones before grad school.
In her past 24 years as an educator, Camille Dean has exemplified excellence in teaching. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in History from the University of North Texas, and a Doctorate in History from Texas Christian University. During her career, Dr. Dean has taught at both private high schools and universities. She is currently the Social Studies Department chair, teaches U.S. History and Advanced World Cultures as well as being Junior World Affairs Council sponsor at Southwest Christian School in Fort Worth. She has organized numerous student service-learning projects, hosted speakers, brought students to educational and cultural events, created an Honors Global Studies curriculum, and annually takes a group of students abroad.
Nicole Vickerman is the world geography team leader at Clark High School in Plano ISD and is Clark’s representative on the district curriculum committee. She co-wrote and teaches the world geography course for PISD’s online eSchool. She has participated in teacher seminars to Germany, Turkey, Japan, Morocco and China. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in education from the University of North Texas. She has been Clark HS’s Teacher of the Year three times.
By the age of 14 Joe Mendenhall had lived in Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom as well as four states in the United States and spokes bits and pieces of Japanese, English, Spanish, German and French. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in German and Slavic languages and a master’s degree in East German cultural politics with a minor in Soviet and Eastern European politics. At the age of 23, he circumnavigated the globe, traveling to Alaska, Japan, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bombay, Dubai, and Germany. He is an avid sports fan and has worked as a German and Russian interpreter at events such as the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been teaching German at L. D. Bell High School in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford I.S.D. for the past 21 years and loving it! He has also taught at the Free University in Berlin and in Chetumal, Mexico as part of the Rotary International Teacher Exchange. Additionally, he has studied Spanish in Costa Rica and Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Joe Wicker graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Business Administration. He also earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas. He has combined his legal and professional experience in public education as a teacher and teacher leader. He serves as the Learning Director in the “Man and His Environment” Advanced Social Studies magnet program. He is also the sponsor of the award-winning Skyline Mock Trial Team. His teams are consistent winners and finalists at district and state competitions. He also serves the YMCA as a Coordinator for Youth and Government district and state judicial teams. He teaches Law, AP Government, AP Comparative Government, and AP Human Geography at Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas.