Teachers Of The Year – 2017


It takes a lot of creativity, dedication and love to be chosen as a teacher of the year. In a sense, every teacher that has inspired students, made them feel that they matter every day, and helped them attain some real academic progress, is worthy of this title. It was not an easy task, given all of the exceptional candidates, but these teachers of the year -2017 really stand out as some of the most effective and inspiring educators from across the country.

Don’t Miss Our Teacher Of The Year Infographic!

1. The Language of Song

Sara Quintanar - Teacher Of The YearBilingual Music teacher Sara Quintanar is helping young students gain confidence and language skills through her original music. She worked her way up from being a volunteer music teacher to a member of the faculty at Franklin Magnet School in Glendale, California. Starting with simple songs in Spanish, Ms. Quintanar’s music as gained popularity fast. She has written a bilingual songbook, and is looking forward to continuing to teach Spanish to elementary school students in the coming years. “You never forget the songs they sing to you,” she said.

2. Rookie of the year

James Sutter - Teacher Of The YearJames Sutter is a real pioneer in science education. A former environmental scientists and geologist, Mr. Sutter retrained to become a teacher through a Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowship at Ohio University. He made it his mission to educate the students in his rural Ohio school about climate change. With a true hands-on approach, Mr. Sutter gave the students first-hand experience of climate change, through the exploration of its effects on their immediate surroundings. Despite facing real opposition within the classroom, he persisted, even choosing special materials that specifically related to his students, and showing a high level of care for them as individuals. Being a good teacher means showing your students that your material matters, and that is exactly what Mr. Sutter is trying to do. His creativity and consideration for the individual, along with a real commitment to his subject matter make Mr. Sutter a stellar educator. In addition to all of the amazing programming he has integrated into the classroom, he also runs the school’s science club and is the Quizbowl team advisor. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes as he continues to develop his craft.

3. Advocating for Technology in the Classrooms and Empowering Digital Educators

Rafranz Davis - Teacher Of The YearRafranz Davis is the Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning for the Lufkin Independent School District in rural Texas. She started out as a middle-school math teacher, and quickly realized that technology could be a great boon for her students. She became an advocate for bringing technology into the classroom, and making sure that teachers are a part of decisions about technology in their schools. In her current role, she created a corps of teacher ambassadors in her district, who provide feedback about how current initiatives are working and bring new ideas. Ms. Davis also takes time to engage and work with students, so she can gauge their level of digital literacy and figure out the best tools to help them advance. As a Google Certified Innovator and a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, she is a sought-after speaker at EdTech events all over the country, yet she still dedicates her time to empowering the next generation of digital educators and innovators right at home.

4. Real Life Wall Street Experience In the Classroom

Teacher Of The Year - Peter ClarkInstructor Peter Clark runs the Butler Tech Financial Services Honors Program at Northwest High School in Colerian Township, Ohio. With almost 15 years of experience as an investment banker, Mr. Clark brings real Wall Street experience into the classroom. His students study important topics such as business law, accounting, real estate and risk-management, and even earn free college credits in the process. He was a pioneer in his persistence to help his students earn college credits for their college-level work in high school. He also encourages his students to give back to the community, by teaching financial literacy to elementary-school students and staffing the Knights Credit Union, a collaboration between Northwest Local Schools and Cincinnati Police Federal Credit Union, which promotes financial education and assists students with banking transactions. Mr. Clark is a true role model to his students, because he chose to transform a successful career in business into an opportunity to empower the next generation with financial literacy.

5. Taking to Instagram

Alex Snyder - Teacher Of The YearBeing an exceptional educator isn’t just about what you do in the classroom. As the Seattle State Senate deliberated over the education budget, graphic arts teacher Alex Snyder took to Instagram, advocating for his students by posting pictures of his students with profiles @portraitsofthefuture, with the goal of showing that the students are our future, and schools need more and better funding. He made sure that public school students were seen as individual, real people and not just part of a statistic. In creating his own unique online advocacy, he didn’t just stand up for his students, he also taught them a powerful lesson about how social media can be used to stand up for your rights.

6. Diversity in the Media Center

Teacher Of The Year - Kathleen RauthIt turns out that you don’t need to be a traditional classroom teacher to be teacher of the year. Kathleen Rauth is a Media Specialist for Indianapolis Public Schools. She has been teaching in urban public schools for 30 years. She makes sure to bring diverse reading materials into her media centers, so every child can relate, no matter what background they are from. She really listens to students, to help them find books that will really speak to them. Rauth is so popular with her students, that some choose to stay after school to spend extra time with her.


Honorable Mention

A true leader.  While great teachers can make a huge impact on their own, having the right guidance from talented administrators makes their potential for success even greater. Principal Eric Bethel, of Turner Elementary School in Washington, DC knows how to inspire teachers to educate some of the nation’s poorest students. Even potential teachers can tell how enthusiastic and committed he is to giving his students the best shot at success. But Bethel isn’t just a man of words, he has the results to prove that his methods are working. He has been able to retain fresh young talent, increased enrollment by over 30%, and guided his faculty to give his students the education they need, with the percentage of students reading at or above grade level rising by 37% in a few short years. His “infectious excitement,” and “commitment to working closely with [teachers] to turn the school around” have become a recipe for astounding success.

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