2017 Teachers of the Year Share Powerful and Personal Stories in “Leading from the Classroom” Podcast Series from NWEA

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Educators Reflect on What Matters Most to Them and Their Students

Leading from the Classroom TOY podcast series from NWEA

“I realized, I’m much more than a teacher of standards. I’m a teacher of the human heart …” Abdul Wright 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

The 2017 State Teachers of the Year share personal and powerful stories of the moments that have mattered most to them and their students in the second season of the podcast series “Leading from the Classroom,” launching today on TeacherPodcasts.org. The 45-part series is produced by NWEA, the not-for-profit creator of assessment solutions, and new episodes will be released twice a week through the end of January.

From childhood stories of poverty and violence to the immense struggles that English language learners face today, each episode features a teacher sharing a personal and poignant moment that crystallized the importance of teaching. The educators speak as advocates and ambassadors for their students, for the teaching profession, and to influence meaningful education policy change.

NWEA is a partner of the National Teacher of the Year program run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The national program identifies exceptional teachers throughout the country and recognizes their effective work in the classroom and the community. During their tenure, Teachers of the Year engage in diverse professional learning opportunities, amplify their voices, participate in policy discussions, and serve as champions for all students.

“Listening to these teachers, we should at once be thankful that we have such dedicated people advocating for our children, and be cognizant of what these professionals tell us they need to do their jobs well,” said Matt Chapman, CEO of NWEA. “We wanted to provide Teachers of the Year the opportunity to tell us in their own words what it truly means to be a teacher, from the rewarding and joyful moments to the struggles that educators often face. We’re proud to help teachers elevate their voices to share their stories widely and help others understand the impact that teaching has on educators, students, families, and the community. Teaching is a great profession that deserves our respect and support.”

"State Teachers of the Year are representatives of the incredible educators working in classrooms across this country every day. Their stories reflect the professionalism and devotion required for ensuring all students have equitable educational opportunities and I hope everyone draws inspiration from these leaders," said Carissa Miller, deputy executive director of CCSSO.

The 45-part series launches on TeacherPodcasts.org today, December 11th, with episodes featuring Indiana, Alabama, and Minnesota Teachers of the Year. Three additional episodes will be released on Wednesday, December 13th. The first six episodes are:

  •     Indiana Teacher of the Year, Jitka Nelson, tells of the immense struggles of her English language learner students and encourages teachers to be their students’ voice “until they have a voice of their own.”
  •     Alabama Teacher of the Year, Dana Jacobson, recounts how a chance meeting with a high school junior inspired her to advocate for strong educators and help turn students’ dreams into reality.
  •     Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Abdul Wright, relates the story of his life, which began with poverty and violence, and how he learned that he’s “much more than a teacher of standards, but a teacher of the human heart.”
  •     Department of Defense Teacher of the Year, Kelisa Wing, tells of how, inspired by her role model, Rep. John Lewis (GA), she caused “good trouble” in the Oval Office.
  •     Colorado Teacher of the Year, Sean Wybrant, explains how STEM education is an equity issue and why his students’ stories inspire him to advocate for better learning opportunities.
  •     Massachusetts and National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee, shares her most profound moment: contemplating the “purpose of learning” while working with students and teachers in Ethiopia.

Additional episodes of “Leading from the Classroom” will be released starting the week of December 18 on TeacherPodcasts.org. Headshots of the State Teachers of the Year, as well as more information on the “Leading from the Classroom” series and the National Teacher of the Year program can also be found on the site. For the latest updates on the “Leading from the Classroom” podcast series on social media follow hashtag #ntoy17.

About NWEA
NWEA® is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction. For 40 years, NWEA has developed innovative Pre-K–12 assessments, professional learning that fosters educators’ ability to accelerate student learning, and research that supports assessment validity and data interpretation. Educators in 140 countries and more than half the schools in the US rely on our flagship interim assessment, MAP® Growth™; our progress monitoring and skills mastery tool, MAP® Skills™; and the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA). Visit NWEA.org to find out how NWEA can partner with you to help all kids learn.

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Colleen Martin
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