Support our mission
Paul Brennan looks at work done by Gieselle Sarmiento, left, and Alex Manor, who are in one of his classes Sasebo Naval Base’s Ernest J. King High School. Brennan has been named teacher of the year for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Japan District.

Paul Brennan looks at work done by Gieselle Sarmiento, left, and Alex Manor, who are in one of his classes Sasebo Naval Base’s Ernest J. King High School. Brennan has been named teacher of the year for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Japan District. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Paul Brennan, Department of Defense Dependents Schools Japan District teacher of the year, lives for those “Eureka!” moments he sees in Ernest J. King High School students experiencing sudden revelations of understanding.

“That’s why I am a teacher … what some call the ‘Aha!’ moments. No doubt about it,” Brennan said after a class Tuesday afternoon.

“Sometimes you see it in them as an actual physical reaction, or there’s a sudden drastic improvement in the quality of their work. Those are my rock-star moments,” he added.

Brennan, in his third year teaching in Sasebo, was one of three E.J. King teachers nominated this year. More than 1,000 teachers work in the DODDS Japan District.

Brennan’s nomination came from Cmdr. Paul Macri, the father of a student. Colleagues, parents or students can nominate.

As the DODDS Japan District winner, he’s eligible for the National Teacher of the Year Program sponsored by Scholastic Inc. and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Brennan teaches Model United Nations, journalism, contemporary issues, government and advanced-placement government.

Before entering DODDS, he was a teacher at Copper Canyon Academy in Arizona. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Butler University in Indiana.

“Honestly, I think he’s really a good teacher. I guess he’s just got that charisma,” said senior Alex Manor.

“He can take something that doesn’t seem all that interesting and makes it very interesting, even fun. With history, he gets us to compare it to things that are happening today. He cracks some pretty good jokes too,” he added.

Brennan was headed to law school until he caught the teaching bug as a substitute teacher for $80 a day.

“I wanted to find out if it (teaching) was a meaningful way to contribute to society and make a living at the same time. I truly enjoy all the processes and rewards of teaching but I especially love the enrichment it has brought into my life.”

As for the teacher-of-the-year designation, he said, “I see it as a big ‘thank you’ from a parent for having an innovative classroom, setting the bar high and consistently encouraging success.”

Principal Linda Connelly praised him.

“Paul Brennan is a gifted teacher who not only teaches students but also reaches students,” she said. “His enthusiasm and energy for the subjects he teaches are contagious.

“E.J. King High School is lucky to have an educator of Mr. Brennan’s caliber,” she said.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up