Katherine Mersai of William S. Reyes Elementary School took home the prestigious Teacher of the Year award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars 3475 Post, making her the first Commonwealth teacher who will represent the whole Asia-Pacific district in Washington, D.C.
Mersai’s nomination will be submitted to the nation’s capital to compete in VFW’s national competition against six other regions.
Last Tuesday, Dec. 19, Mariano Fajardo, co-chairman of VFW’s scholarship program, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3475 commander Brad Ruszala presented Mersai with the award.
It is given to the teacher who continues to imbue in the minds of their students the importance of patriotism and the value of the nation’s troops.
Mersai has been teaching for eight years at WSR and currently teaches the second grade.
She said she was not expecting to be nominated, let alone win the plum for the entire Asia Pacific district. She expressed shock at finding out that she had been nominated out of the many teachers on Saipan because she was just passionate about her students learning the importance of veterans.
“I am so humbled to win this…I wasn’t expecting this…it is such an honor,” she said.
Mersai said she advocates for community service and even initiates ways to perform community service with her students.
She takes her students on field trips to visit the American Memorial Park in remembrance of the veterans who died for the country.
“I do a lot of community service and I plan a lot of field trips for the students. My grade level team actually also plan and make sure we go to the American Memorial Park to see the veterans,” she said. “I didn’t think it would make a difference but it actually makes the kids more appreciative of what they have today,”
“I see a big difference because kids these days tend to rely on electronics and they forget sometimes what they need to do to make themselves better citizens so I have really pushed for that,” she added.
Awards were also distributed to the winners of the Voice of Democracy, a speaking contest, and the Patriot’s Pen competition, a writing contest.
For the Voice of Democracy, Kelvin Wolfe of Marianas High School placed first and was awarded $150. Victoria Dela Cruz, also from MHS, placed second and was awarded $100. There were only two qualifying entries for the VOD.
For the Patriot’s Pen, Danahlei Rodriguez from ChaCha Oceanview Middle School placed first and was awarded $150. Mylan Goodwin from Saipan International School placed second and was awarded $100. Matthew Berline, also from SIS, placed third and was awarded $75.