Teaching Profession

From Teaching Military Kids to Refugees, Here Are the Finalists for Teacher of the Year

By Madeline Will — January 04, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The new year is starting off with a recognition of four exemplary teachers from across the country—the finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award.

The Council of Chief State Schools Officers announced the finalists today. One of these teachers will receive the national honor, granting him or her a yearlong sabbatical to travel across the country and even the world, headline conferences, meet with policymakers, and have a national platform to advocate for an issue of choice.

The four finalists are:


  • Amy Andersen, an American Sign Language teacher at an Ocean City, N.J., public high school;
  • Kara Ball, an elementary teacher for the Department of Defense Education Activity, which manages schools for military children;
  • Jonathan Juravich, an art teacher at a public elementary school in Powell, Ohio; and
  • Mandy Manning, an English and math teacher to immigrant and refugee students in Spokane, Wash.

The candidates are from diverse backgrounds, and represent a bit of a departure from historical award winners: A visual arts teacher hasn’t won the national contest since 1979. A teacher from the Department of Defense Education Activity has never claimed the top prize. An American Sign Language teacher has also never been recognized as the National Teacher of the Year, according to data provided by CCSSO.

Andersen, Ball, and Manning are all National Board-certified teachers.

Some more background on the finalists:


  • Andersen, the American Sign Language teacher who has taught both deaf and hearing students, is recognized for her commitment to promoting strength in diversity, teaching that every voice has value. She has arranged paint nights with world-renowned deaf artists for her students, and some of her students have even interpreted for former First Lady Michelle Obama and Madonna.
  • Ball teaches elementary students from military families at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. Science, technology, engineering, and math, along with project-based learning, are major components of her instruction. (Every year, her students dissect sharks!)
  • An advocate for arts education, Juravich is an award-winning artist who has taught for 13 years. He also facilitates professional development and plans art curriculum as the district’s elementary visual art department chairman.
  • Manning teaches at the Newcomer Center at her Spokane high school—she is her students’ first teacher once they arrive in the country. She helps her students process trauma through projects and celebrations of their home countries and culture. Manning also lead efforts to re-evaluate her school’s discipline plan and adopt an evidence-based behavioral intervention plan—which resulted in a 74 percent decrease in suspensions in the first year.

In the fall, each state—plus the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity—picked their teacher of the year. From that pool, a national selection committee that represents 14 education and community organizations picked the four finalists, and ultimately will pick the winner.

“The four finalists for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year stand at the intersection of policy, advocacy, and practice,” the selection committee said in a statement. “They exemplify the highest levels of teaching, innovation, and leadership, and have demonstrated a commitment to students and public education.”

Every year since 1952, the president has recognized the National Teacher of the Year in a White House ceremony in the spring. However, in 2017, President Donald Trump broke with tradition somewhat—instead of the traditional ceremony in the White House’s East Room or Rose Garden that is open to the families of the state teachers of the year, Trump invited just the teachers into the Oval Office. Typically, the National Teacher of the Year speaks, but last year, Trump was the only one to make remarks. According to the Washington Post, some of the recognized teachers were displeased with the lack of pomp and circumstance and the exclusion of their family members from the ceremony.

Sydney Chaffee, a 9th grade humanities teacher in Boston, won the honor last year. She is the first charter school teacher to win the award in the contest’s 65-year history.

Image, from left to right: Amy Andersen, Jonathan Juravich, Kara Ball, and Mandy Manning. Images provided by CCSSO.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Shutterstock
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read