Washington, D.C. (January 12, 2016) — These educators develop sharp minds and strong characters. They stoke social awareness in their students and expand their classrooms into the larger communities.

Their influence spans the country, from California and Washington to Oklahoma and Connecticut.

They are the finalists for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. One of them will be named the 2016 National Teacher of the Year in April, and spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers and students.

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers and presented by Voya Financial, identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

“Excellent teachers have an impact on students that extends beyond classroom walls,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “They work to ensure every child receives a quality education that will set them on a course for success after graduation. These professionals are educators, engaged citizens and role models.”

“The finalists meet young people where they are, and help to guide them, enrich their lives and build character,” Minnich continued. “They are outstanding ambassadors for their profession.”

Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent millions of educators, selects four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year based on a set of criteria.

Specifically, the committee looks at criteria such as in what ways this individual is an excellent teacher, the teacher’s community involvement, recommendations from parents and colleagues, and the teacher’s work to inspire students from all backgrounds.

The National Teacher of the Year is then selected among the finalists after rigorous in-person interviews with the selection committee.

The President of the United States will recognize the National Teacher of the Year in a White House ceremony this spring.


Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, 2016 Washington Teacher of the Year

Nathan Gibbs-Bowling teaches social studies at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA.

“Throughout human history there has been no greater democratizing force within societies than education,” Gibbs-Bowling writes. “It is the great equalizer; the great opportunity creator; the greatest economic stimulus ever conceived. Education has saved more lives than anything save modern medicine.”

He embodies and teaches this logic in his Advanced Placement U.S. Government class where he hopes to inspire community leaders and teachers. To do this, he models civic engagement for students. Gibbs-Bowling mentors young men of color through the College Success Foundation Achievers Scholars Program and distributes in-person care packages to former students who are now in college.

“I am a teacher for one simple reason: I believe in the transformational and liberatory power of education – especially public education – to change the trajectories of not only individual lives, but entire communities.”

Learn more about Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, and why he was selected as a finalist.

– See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/News_and_Events/Press_Releases/CCSSO_Announces_Four_Finalists_for_2016_National_Teacher_of_the_Year_Award.html#sthash.j5ERoUvB.dpuf