What does it mean to be the Indiana Teacher of the Year? It certainly does not mean I am the best teacher in Indiana! In fact, selecting one exemplary educator from over 65,000 Hoosier teachers is an impossible task. I often equate teaching to parenting. The methodology varies depending on the needs of the individual child, and the outcomes are difficult to measure. If picking the best Indiana parent sounds absurd, then the notion of choosing just one outstanding educator is equally ridiculous. All teachers want to make a difference in the lives of their students, but the diverse roads leading to that destination are impossible to compare.
I am often asked to describe how my teaching is unique. However, I believe I was chosen for this honor based on commonalities, rather than differences. My passion for helping students become productive, fulfilled citizens is shared with other Indiana educators who also work tirelessly for the same reason. I am an ordinary teacher who has been given an extraordinary opportunity.
So what is my role as the Teacher of the Year? I am a representative and a voice for the exceptional educators in our state. By listening to teachers on a district, state, and national level, I understand that low morale is a primary concern for our profession. Consequently, one of my goals this year is to find ways to uplift teachers and honor their work.
In meeting with leaders at each level, I have discovered a common desire to show teachers how much they are valued. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the United States Department of Education and offer teacher input on a new RESPECT initiative that seeks to elevate the status of teachers nationwide. At the state level, I am working with the Indiana Department of Education to “Celebrate Teaching” by giving Hoosiers the opportunity to honor educators. I encourage every citizen to visit the www.doe.in.gov/celebrateteaching website and explore specific avenues for recognizing outstanding teachers. Finally, our own Huntington County Community School Corporation has launched a “Heart and Soul” campaign that highlights the impact local teachers have on our youth. My involvement in all of these initiatives has inspired me to continue finding ways to ensure that all teachers gain the respect they have so long deserved.
In closing, I invite all Hoosier citizens to join me in this mission. Your involvement can be as simple as showing your appreciation for a teacher with a thank you note. We, as teachers, often neglect to share our accomplishments, so be sure to send a copy to the building principal. Finally, I want to extend my own message of gratitude to the teachers of Huntington County who have molded me into the educator I am today. As I continue my journey this year, I will strive to honor our teachers for the sacrifices they make every day to positively impact our future.