Lita Marie Timoteo

Teacher of the Year 2012 - American Samoa


Remember to take advantage of opportunities presented to you.

When I was asked to give a speech to welcome and encourage teachers this school year, I was nervous thinking about the people in the audience. In the audience will be the governor, Department of Education personnel, the media and of course, hundreds of teachers. What was I going to say to motivate all these people? I thought about a commonality between all these people. Yes! They will all be there, in the audience, because they know the significance of providing quality education. That is what I spoke about.

As the 2012 American Samoa Teacher of the Year, I have been so fortunate to partake in many activities. Yes, I felt nervous before, during and after these professional activities, BUT I took advantage of these rare opportunities. Because of these opportunities, I have grown professionally and personally. I’ve met and collaborated with 53 other educators throughout the United States. I also got the opportunity to speak to several educators and government officials. I was also given the opportunity to work with newly hired teachers. All these opportunities have changed me. I am more knowledgeable, more concerned and more aware of what is happening in the teaching field. These lessons would not have been learned if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities presented to me.


Always express appreciation and gratitude towards those who made a difference in your life.

Sometimes when there are many opportunities open to us, we tend to forget how or who gave us the opportunity to grow. There are times when we are all too busy to even notice the special treats or little things other people do for us. As a teacher, there are times I forget to listen to the compliments made by my students.

As teacher of the year, I am reminded to always thank people who have supported me throughout this journey. I should be grateful every day to have colleagues to work collaboratively with. I should appreciate the friendly comments my students say to each other and to me. Most importantly, I should always thank my students every day for their presence and influence on my life. Everyday is a new day; therefore, we must extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who made a difference in our lives.


Set your goals and do all it takes to achieve them.

In addition, I have also learned the significance of setting goals and doing whatever it takes to accomplish them. Throughout my teacher of the year experience, I have become more goal-oriented than I’ve ever been in my life. I have set goals for my students and especially for myself. These goals gave us a sense of direction.

How do my students achieve these goals? How do I achieve these goals? They were attained through hard work, perseverance, dedication, creativity, innovation, collaboration, motivation and positive reinforcement. All these skills and abilities really made a difference. Consequently, we were able to achieve our goal.


Create relationships that will help you become a better person.

As teacher of the year, I was fortunate to meet brilliant educators from other states. At our first meeting in Dallas, I was anxious because I did not know the personalities and thoughts of these individuals. Now, in just a year, we have grown to appreciate, care, love and respect one another. Although we come from different geographical, economical and ethnic backgrounds, we all share one passion. That passion is teaching.

Throughout the year, we share resources and strategies to enhance student learning. We were also able to create a network where we continue to converse and discuss ways to improve and to provide quality education to all our students. This is one relationship I have built with my fellow state teachers of the year. It is a relationship I hold dear to my heart. There are many relationships we can build. We can have relationships with parents, the community, our government, churches and especially with our students. These relationships will make us effective teachers, responsible individuals and better human beings.


You can make a difference in someone’s life.

One morning as I was walking towards my classroom, I noticed one of my students was crying at the stairs. It was unusual for me to see her sitting by herself. She was crying because of family problems. I was devastated. I did not know what to tell her, because I have never experienced what she was going through. I gave her advice and tried to cheer her up. The next day, she thanked me. She told me just knowing that I cared and took the time to listen to her made her feel a lot better. You can make a difference in another person’s life. A simple gesture, such as smiling and listening, really means a lot to someone. When that person comes up and thanks you for what you have done, it is rewarding. It is fulfilling.

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.


Lita Marie Timoteo is the 2012 American Samoa Teacher of the Year. She received her Associate of Arts in education from the American Samoa Community College. She received her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education (B.Ed) and Master’s of Education in Curriculum Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Timoteo is a mathematics teacher in Tafuna Elementary School. She is very passionate about teaching. She believes teaching is her life’s purpose.