Our Program Leaders – your teachers – are the heart and soul behind our programs. It’s the teacher students will remember. This year, for Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked students and parents who have participated in recent WorldStrides programs or are traveling with WorldStrides soon to nominate their program leaders for WorldStrides Teacher of the Year to honor their hard work and dedication. Each day this week, we will announce a WorldStrides Teacher of the Year.
Our WorldStrides Teacher of the Year: History is Dewey Espinosa. Dewey has traveled with WorldStrides since 2008, taking groups of students to Washington, D.C., New York City, and beyond. This year, Dewey’s spring break excursion to Washington, D.C., was extended by a few days, thanks to a late season snowstorm. Parents and students alike nominated Dewey for WorldStrides Teacher of the Year as a way to thank him for giving their children the trip of a lifetime and making the best out of weather delays and changed plans.
In their own words, read why Dewey Espinosa was nominated for WorldStrides Teacher of the Year.
“Such a positive, energetic teacher who gives his time to make our children’s world better! He is fun and motivates the kids to Learn and succeed! He made their year very memorable.” – Ingrida
“This award could not be more timely. Dewey just ended an 8 day D.C. trip with 50+ of our 8th graders, including our son Corbin. Thanks to a recent snowmageddon in Colorado, our kids found themselves “stuck” in DC for an extra 4 days with Dewey (and his amazing co-worker teachers Sarah Costin and Jennifer Lucchesi). He continued with his encouraging emails to us parents, sent pictures, assured that our kids were well fed, well entertained and taken care of. We realize that a huge thank you goes out to WorldStrides as well for taking the initiative to fill in the extra days as if they were already planned that way.
We were all astounded by the care that was given to making our children feel safe and “normal” in a very abnormal situation! We cannot imagine anyone else being in charge of our kids during this trying time. Dewey’s calm, cool, collected manner is always admired by his students but we, as parents, were able to witness that first hand during this week. He knew we were all on edge by the end of the 8 days, and still he kept up his positive attitude with the kids and with us. He even took it upon himself to accompany the last group out of D.C. on that red eye flight Easter night, behind his two co-workers, to make sure no one got left behind. We will forever be grateful for his leadership, positivity, and love of his students.” – Lisa
“Douglas Espinosa has been doing Washington D.C., trips with WorldStrides for 8 years and his enthusiasm is as high for the trip with the kids as ever. He really cares about the kids and about the great learning they can receive on the trip. This year, the return flight was cancelled because of a bad snowstorm in Denver, and Mr. Espinosa really kicked into high gear for this situation. WorldStrides was great – they provided rooms, meals, and activities for 4 additional days because that was the soonest they could book new flights. Mr. Espinosa never once showed signs of wishing he could be home with his family and baby daughter for Easter. He kept a very positive attitude and was a great influence on the kids, who were all getting tired. He even loaned his own money to kids who had run out (close to $900!) and he changed places with the teacher who was booked on the last flight that got in after midnight on Easter Sunday. He was truly wonderful. The other two teachers with him, Sarah Costin and Jennifer Luchesi, were also amazing. Our kids loved the trip, and Mr. Espinosa’s optimism and leadership helped them appreciate the whole trip even more.” – Michael
“Douglas (Dewey) Espinosa should be Teacher of the Year because of the love of history and learning he has instilled in his class. He has a passion for history and a positive attitude that is infectious. And his amazing attitude carried and sustained the 8th grade group he recently took on a WorldStrides trip to Washington D.C., as they got stranded for 4 extra days due to a blizzard that shut down the airport in Denver. And a HUGE shout out to the amazing care that the whole group received when they were stranded. WorldStrides provided extra tours, meals, and hotels at no extra charge which was so wonderful. All of the parents were so worried, but seeing the great care the kids received, and knowing that Dewey and the other wonderful teacher volunteers (Jen and Sarah) were keeping the kids spirits up was invaluable at calming us all down.” – Devin
“I think that Dewey Espinosa should be the WorldStrides Teacher of the Year for several reasons. All three of my children have gone on this trip over the years, and all have loved it. Mr. Espinosa does a fantastic job of organizing and getting the students excited about the trip. He lets them know that his own 8th grade trip to Washington D.C., was what inspired him to become a teacher. This year, Mr. Espinosa went above and beyond the call of duty when the flight home was canceled due to a snowstorm in Denver. He, the other teachers, and all of the students had to stay four extra days. He and WorldStrides made sure that the students had a hotel to stay in, meals to eat, and a variety of tours lined up. Even though he had to give up the rest of his Spring Break, including Easter with his young children, he kept a positive attitude, and was positive role model for the students. On a very sad note, he dealt with the death of a student’s father while on this trip.” – The Stewarts
“When our child’s group got stuck in D.C. for 4 extra days due to the Denver blizzard, the group leader, Douglas “Dewey” Espinosa (as well as the other 2 teachers in the group, Jennifer Lucchesi and Sarah Costin) were nothing short of amazing. WorldStrides was absolutely fantastic and managed to find new hotels and day trips for the extra days, but these teachers were faced with worried parents, stressed kids, a very serious family emergency for one of the kids occurring during the trip, severe allergies in the group; they kept extremely positive the entire time, managed to reassure kids and parents, and to bring home a group of 8th graders excited about the wonderful trip they’d had. Dewey has been doing this trip every year for many years and his passion for it is clear to see; we are so grateful that he shared this passion with our child.” – The Fearnsides
“Our tour was incredible and incredibly difficult for our 3 teacher chaperones, led by Mr. Espinosa. A blizzard prevented the tour from returning to Colorado so instead of a 5-day tour, our 54 children got a 9 or 10-day tour, courtesy of WorldStrides and our wonderful chaperones. Mr. Espinosa kept in constant contact with the worried parents back in Colorado and kept the 54 children completely at ease, entertained and on educational tours – those lucky children got to see Gettysburg, Ford Theatre, Air & Space Museum, the CHERRY BLOSSOMS in full bloom and so, so much more! What is so amazing to me is that it did not feel like turmoil to our children – the teachers even did their laundry one night – they got to sleep in a little, continue to eat great food, and even had our beloved tour guide, Bernie!
The one person holding it together with grace, compassion, humor and kindness was dear Douglas “Dewey” Espinosa. We had a student whose father was severely injured while she was on this tour, and Dewey made sure she was with careful, caring children. They got her home during the blizzard aftereffects thankfully, and she got to see her father before he sadly passed away. Lots of the parents back in Colorado were going nuts with worry, and Mr. Espinosa never over-reacted – just calmly wrote stating facts and what was being done, and continuing to see 100s of photos and long emails.” – Ryan
“Mr. Espinosa did a great job organizing and communicating with parents before and during the 8th grade D.C. experience.” – The Mondrows
“Mr. Espinosa has taken 8th grade students on the D.C. trip for years. This year, the group had about sixty students. When a major storm hit the Denver area, the group had to stay in DC for four extra days and split onto three return flights. Some of the students even had to miss Easter and he also dealt with a tragedy as one of the fathers of a child on the trip passed away while they were traveling. Mr. Espinosa was incredible. He was positive, upbeat, and kept the parents and the kids calm. He sent us an e-mail every day with pictures and updates. I am truly grateful to both World Strides and Mr. Espinosa.” – Lynne
“Dewey Espinosa, Sarah Costin, and Jen Luchessi ended up stuck in DC because of a blizzard in Colorado for 4 extra days. They had 56, 8th grade students to feed and entertain. With the help of WorldStrides, they filled the time with extra outings and activities. They did laundry, and loaned money to our students. They went above and beyond what was expected.” – The Ernsts
“Our children recently went to D.C. for their 8th grade adventure. Due to a snow storm in Denver, a 5 day trip became a 9 day trip. Mr. Espinosa kept in constant contact with parents and more importantly, kept our children safe, calm and happy. The children had to be flown out on 3 separate flights, the last being a red eye flight out of Dulles to Denver arriving home at 1am MST. Mr. Espinosa traveled on this red eye home with my child and others to be sure the other teachers and kids were home on earlier flights to be with their families on Easter. My daughter and Mr. Espinosa missed Easter. Mr. Espinosa has 3 small children and kept ours safe on Easter. Now that is leadership and sacrifice. I will be eternally grateful for Mr. Espinosa, his mentorship to my daughter and his great leadership. He deserves more than just Teacher of the Year to me and my family. Cheers Douglas Espinosa!” – Sarah
“I can’t say enough about Mr. Espinosa and his love for learning and teaching kids. He clearly loves what he does and it shows. Not only did he make this trip fun, but he also went above and beyond because of circumstances which made the trip twice as long as it was supposed to be. He had to come up with more excursions for the kids, and that he did. He made every effort to make the additional 4 days fun and educational. Honestly, I don’t know how he did it, but he stayed upbeat, excited, and motivated. Had it not been for him and the other 2 teachers, the rest of the trip could have been a disaster. He absolutely needs to win this because of all of his extra effort on this trip!” – The Winkelbauers
Congratulations, Dewey, and thank you for your dedication!