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2019 National Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

Today, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced four educators with diverse teaching styles and who teach different subjects as finalists for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year:

Donna Gradel, the 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, is a high school science teacher who empowers her students to discover ways they can improve their local environment, including helping their city to develop and implement sustainable solutions to improve the water quality and natural habitats of the city’s waterways. Learn more.
Kelly Harper, the 2019 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year, is a 3rd grade teacher who leads her students to work on advocacy projects throughout the year, even going so far as meeting with members of Congress in the U.S. Capitol Building. Learn more.
Danielle Riha, the 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year, is a middle school teacher who has learned from Yup’ik Elders how to incorporate indigenous knowledge that she applies in a culturally infused curriculum with her students at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School, which she helped open to increase opportunities for students to connect to their identity and community. Learn more.
Rodney Robinson, the 2019 Virginia Teacher of the Year, who teaches social studies in a juvenile detention facility, 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. Learn more.

The National Teacher of the Year Program, administered by CCSSO, identifies exceptional teachers nationwide, celebrates their effective work in and outside of the classroom, amplifies their voices and empowers them to take part in policy discussions at the state and national levels. One of the finalists will be named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year this spring and will spend the next year traveling the country as an ambassador for education and an advocate for all teachers and students.

AACTE is a proud member of the National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee and applauds each finalists for their commitment to the profession and meeting the needs of all students, as well as the AACTE member institutions that have contributed to their success.

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year Program, visit the CCSSO website.


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Katrina Norfleet

Editor, AACTE

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