Striving for Excellence

Recognizing Exceptional Educators in the Southwestern Union
February 25, 2019

The Southwestern Union Conference recognizes excellence among its teaching staff at both the elementary and secondary levels each year. To qualify for the award, a teacher must demonstrate proficiency in a number of criteria related to teaching and learning. The teachers are a provided a $500 award, along with a certificate and plaque. We are proud to announce the Excellence in Teaching Award recipients for the 2017-2018 school year.

Devin Anavitarte

Devin Anavitarte, or “Mr. A” as he is affectionately called by the students at Burton Adventist Academy, plays an integral role in creating a strong spiritual atmosphere. Students have been drawn to his English classes ever since he became a faculty member in 2013. It is evident in his writing as a published author and playwright that he is passionate about his relationship with Jesus and his desire for his students to know Him as well.

Mary Burton

Mary Burton was born in Texas. She grew up in the mission field and now teaches in Ardmore, Oklahoma. She loves teaching underlying principles that simplify complicated information, but her greatest passion is character training and helping students understand that they are saved through daily surrender and trust in Christ.

Robert Fetters

Robert Fetters teaches at Ozark Adventist Academy. He has a B.A. in Biology with Chemistry and Religion minors from Southern Adventist University, as well as a Masters in Environmental Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. He taught science and math for 18 years before spending four years as an environmental chemist in Richmond, Virginia. Fetters and his wife, Judy have three children, Jeb, Grace and Abbie Rose.

Sabina Mauricio

Sabina Mauricio, a graduate of Southwestern Adventist University, has been a great asset to the Texico Conference since she became the head teacher of El Paso Adventist Junior Academy. Through her leadership and dedication, the school has doubled in enrollment and the Iowa Assessment scores have shown a significant increase.

Elle Nelson

Elle Nelson currently teaches first and second grades at Joshua Adventist Multi-grade School. She enjoys sharing Christ through the Bible and actively incorporates Bible principles into every-day learning. Through her example, the students have come to know Jesus as their friend and Savior. She is loved and respected by her students, their parents and colleagues.

Lisa Tonack

Lisa Tonack has been teaching for 25 years, mostly at Ozark Adventist School, but also in the Southeastern California Conference. She feels God has definitely called her to teach, and wants each student to feel confident and loved by God. She and her husband Jeff have four adult children, Winston, Warren, Ally and Spencer.

Renee Whiting

Renee Whiting is a graduate of Oakwood University and Southern Adventist University. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in School Counseling. A product of Adventist education, she is dedicated to building the kingdom of God by providing a relevant 21st century Adventist education to every student that she teaches. She currently serves as the Principal of New Orleans Adventist Academy. She has three daughters, Brittany, ReJena and Alexis Nicole.