Teaching Profession News in Brief

Obama Lauds High School Educator Named 2010 National Teacher of the Year

By Elizabeth Rich — May 11, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A high school English teacher from Iowa who sees herself as the “lead learner” in her classroom has been named the 2010 National Teacher of the Year.

Under a picture-perfect blue sky during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, President Barack Obama described Sarah Brown Wessling as passionate and creative and highlighted her innovative teaching style. He also shared the words of one of Ms. Wessling’s students, who described the experience of being in her class in glowing terms: “No discussion was fruitless, no assignment was pointless, and not one day was boring.”

Speaking after the president during the April 29 ceremony, the 35-year-old educator described her classroom as a place where the teacher is the “lead learner,” and “the classroom walls are boundless.” The fact that she consigned her desk to a back corner of the room, she explained, “is an outward sign of an implicit philosophy that teaching must be learner-centered.”

Ms. Wessling, who teaches 10th through 12th grade English at the 1,300-student Johnston (Iowa) High School, has been in the classroom for 11 years and at her present school for 10. This year, Ms. Wessling, the department chair since 2003, created 15 new English courses, President Obama said.

Once students fulfill their requirements, they can select from such classes as “On the Road,” which explores metaphorical and physical journeys; “Sport, Competition, and Culture,” which looks at the cultural significance of sports; and “Genders’ Game,” which takes on the role of gender in history.

Johnston High School Principal Bruce Hukee said his school has made an effort to create courses that hold greater-than-usual appeal to students. “Sarah was very instrumental in creating classes that are more interesting to kids, giving them the opportunity to pick a class that they are interested in, instead of doing the same type of curriculum,” Mr. Hukee said in an interview.

Clay Guthmiller, the superintendent of the Johnston Community School District, described the curriculum model as “relevant.” “We have gone to more titled courses to create more interest for our kids and to create a more integrated approach [to learning],” he said.

A National Board-certified teacher, Ms. Wessling has earned a host of other honors, including the Promising Teacher Award and the Future Leader in Education Award, both from the Iowa Council of Teachers of English. The National Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by ING and Target and is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 2010 edition of Education Week as Obama Lauds High School Educator Named 2010 National Teacher of the Year

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
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
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
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
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

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 Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Canva
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
0524 heinrich opinion keller fs
N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Explainer What Is Doxxing, and How Can Educators Protect Their Privacy Online?
Keeping personal and professional information separate can be difficult for teachers, experts say.
7 min read
Vector illustration concept of a cyber criminal with laptop stealing user personal data while a woman expresses frustration.
iStock/Getty