Posts Tagged ‘National Teacher of the Year’


State Teachers of the Year

May 28, 2019

57 Teaches Recognized

National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson

On April 29th, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education welcomed the State Teachers of the Year at the annual National Teacher of the Year Ceremony. National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson is a social studies and history teacher at a juvenile detention center in Richmond, Virginia. Robinson was inspired to teach by his mother, who went to a segregated school and couldn’t afford to complete her education. This event, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), celebrates 57 teachers from the continental United States as well as its territories.

The CCSSO said of Robinson in a statement:

“He creates a positive school culture by empowering his students — many of whom have experienced trauma — to become civically minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities.”

The 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year was among those educators being honored as well. Joseph Hennessey who teaches English at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford represents Maine this year and kindly provided the following description of his experience in D.C. In addition Joe provided the photographs that are embedded.

“From April 28th through May 3rd, I was fortunate to attend the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Washington Week. During the five day program, I, along with the other 56 members of the Teacher of the Year cohort, was able to meet with Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill, participate in educational policy focus groups and professional development, attend formal receptions at the White House and Vice President’s Residence, and tour a number of the landmarks scattered throughout the city. It was a week of firsts for me as I had never been to our nation’s capital before. My initial impression, sure to be one of many as I continue to ponder, is a reflection upon the enormous ideological and political scale assigned by time and circumstance to a medium sized, coastal American city.
The governmental institutions and their physical structures were awe-inspiring, and the reality is that many of our fellow citizens and neighbors will not have an opportunity to visit them, let alone be formally received. Thus, I felt it my duty to appreciate the enormity of it all. The pillars, pedestals, pediments, and windows are intended to overwhelm the senses– as if the ideas which the buildings house transcend the individual’s intellectual repertoire, skill set, or influence. What is more, those who designed these buildings– in effect, temples to democracy, to capitalism, to individualism– did so with an eye supposedly averse to the imperial aesthetic. And yet, from the giant obelisk at the center of the political complex, to the colossi which populate the monuments, it is clear that there is great homage being paid to Greece, Rome, and monarchical/imperial Europe. I found these buildings and places to be interesting counterpoints as we educators were in town to contemplate the various pathways which we had already walked in the interest of identity, equity, and pluralism staunchly opposed to such trappings of the “Old World.” As I share my experiences with colleagues and students, I am eager to see how my perspective will evolve on this front.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Also during our week in the center of America’s political sphere, I was by turns inspired and humbled to visit the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). In addition to viewing keystones of their art and cultural collections, I was fortunate enough to attend lectures by several prominent figures from throughout the Smithsonian Institution who gave me context for what I was able to glean. These structures and their collections were massive like the United States Supreme Court and United States Capitol Building, but their scale represented an even more crucial component of the complicated historical discourse which America continues to have with its various cultures. These

United States Supreme Court

museums are intellectual achievements which seek to further educate our population about our tremendous, invaluable diversity; as a person of comparative privilege, it was important for me to listen attentively to what was being said and to internalize what I was being shown. It also, subsequently, reaffirmed the role of the educator to me– which is to bring the interconnected world into the frame of reference of all young people, not to the exclusion,  subversion, or exception of academic skills. Education is indeed the path to self betterment and community betterment– when I use the materials and resources which the Smithsonian provides at no charge to all Americans, it will be with a new gravity which I was unfamiliar with before despite having used the resources in years past.

United States Capitol Building

In sum, my time in Washington was spent celebrating education, reflecting upon our roles as individual people and as part of interconnected cultures, and reaffirming the greater socioeconomic imperative of public education– to provide the essential public service. Each of the structures and institutions which I encountered was staffed by Americans from far and wide, including Maine, who were both adamant in their beliefs and fallible as we all are. So, while we must appreciate the scale and grandeur of what America has accomplished thus far in art, architecture, and philosophy, and politics, we must also be vigilant as public servants and individual citizens to continue to support our institutions, structures, and neighbors at the individual, interpersonal level.

What a wonderful, important week that it was…”

Compassion Before Grades

June 1, 2018

What matters most

As the last month of the school year starts today here is a youtube video of a TED talk by Sean McComb, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, who reminds us of the importance of being compassionate with every student. I’m sure you have your own teacher stories about connecting with students.


What’s Your Story?

May 11, 2015

All teachers have stories

President Obama presents the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award to Shanna Peeples on April 29 at the White House

President Obama presents the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award to Shanna Peeples on April 29 at the White House

It is always interesting to me to hear and read teacher’s stories. I know that each of you have one and your journeys to teaching are individual. Some are inspired by parents, siblings, environments, and listening to other stories.

Last week the 2015 National Teacher of the Year was announced at a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher, from Amarillo, Texas who works with impoverished immigrant students is the recipient.

Growing up, Shannon’s story was very difficult. She now helps her students face their challenges as a teacher had guided her. Her teacher Mrs. Belton taught her that it was “possible to read and write my way into another life.”

Below is taken from an article in neaToday written by Brenda Alvarez.

Peeples uses that same lesson for her students to give them a voice and an opportunity to tell their story, helping them to grow academically and emotionally. For example, many of her students have gone off to Ivy League schools or have been awarded prestigious scholarships. Additionally, the number of students taking the AP English 4 exam has gone from zero to 30 in the past five years. Her students reach into the community, too, working on local public health campaigns or conducting social science research on the health benefits of gratitude.

Peeples says that teachers are the beacon, stability, and the source of inspiration for many students.

“So many teachers, like those behind me, stay after school to listen to our students, go to their games or concerts, or just create a safe place where they can draw because we are stable, dependable adults,” she says. “Schools and their teachers are a stabilizing force in society and a fierce promoter and protector of our democracy…[they] must always stay open because teachers doors stay open, saying come in, lets learn, let’s hope, lets begin dreaming.”


Music Teacher Finalist for National Teacher of the Year

January 28, 2012

Alvin Aureliano Davis-2012 Florida Teacher of the Year

Alvin Aureliano Davis is a music teacher at Miramar High School in Miramar, Florida. Alvin is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year. He has taught a total of 11 years, the last eight at Miramar, a school of 2,760 students. He received a Bachelor of Science from Florida A&M University in 2000 and has been teaching music ever since. I addition to being Florida’s Teacher of the Year, Alvin is the recipient of numerous teaching honors, including the U.S. Congressional Record of Exemplary Service and Dedication. In 2011, the city of Miramar named July 7, 2011 Alvin A. Davis Day. Fascinated by music from a young age, Davis values the multi-faceted work of teaching the subject in an urban environment, and works to instill a sense of curiosity and community engagement in each of his students. Recalling a conversation with his late father, Davis writes about the realization that he was meant to become a teacher. “Whereas I learned as a youth that music was my passion, I now knew that the honor and responsibility of changing lives was my calling.”

A panel of educators, representing 15 national education organizations, chose the finalists from the 2012 state teachers of the year in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and four U.S. extra-state jurisdictions.

The organizations represented on the 2012 National Selection Committee are: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Childhood Education International, ASCD, Association of Teacher Educators, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, National Education Association, National Middle Schools Association, National School Boards Association, and National School Public Relations Association.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

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