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CCSSO Announces Four Finalists for 2020 National Teacher of the Year

Release date: 1/16/2020

From the Council of Chief State School Officers:

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced that four dedicated educators from around the country have been named finalists for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year.

The four finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Chris Dier, the 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, a Hurricane Katrina survivor who returned to his Louisiana parish to teach high school social studies, Dier has focused on equity as he brings aspects of the students’ identity and culture to the forefront of their education.
  • Leila Kubesch, the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year, a middle school teacher focused on teaching Spanish and English to English learners, Kubesch has developed community partnerships and encouraged student advocacy while also serving as an advocate for emancipated foster youth.
  • Tabatha Rosproy, the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year, a preschool teacher who teaches in a program nestled within a retirement village that includes interaction with residents, Rosproy has helped the program build new social capital in the community while also boasting the highest preschool literacy and math scores in the district.
  • Linda Rost, the 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year, a high school science teacher, Rost has promoted science education by facilitating science research programs and preparing students to successfully compete in national and international science competitions.

The National Teacher of the Year Program, run 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.

“Teachers are our students’ most important resource. I applaud and congratulate these four admirable educators for their commitment and dedication, and I thank the selection committee for its work to identify them from among a skilled class of educators,” said CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller. “We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of all State Teachers of the Year, including the four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.”

One of the finalists announced today will be named the 2020 National Teacher of the Year this spring by the 2020 National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. The chosen educator will spend the next year traveling the country as an ambassador for education and an advocate for all teachers and students.

“The four finalists for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year stand out as exceptional educators and leaders, serving students and communities with expertise, empathy, and passion,” the selection committee said. “These State Teachers of the Year are working to equitably meet the needs of all students by holding high expectations for every child, prioritizing student wellbeing, and intentionally engaging with the communities in which they teach. Any one of them would do an outstanding job as the profession’s ambassador.”

Every year, exemplary teachers from states, U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. The 2020 cohort includes 55 educators.

From that group, the National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee selects four finalists based on a specific set of criteria. The National Teacher of the Year is then selected after rigorous in-person interviews with the selection committee, which includes representatives from 17 renowned education and community organizations, which collectively represent millions of educators, parents and students.

Each year, since 1952, the National Teacher of the Year has been recognized by the White House in the spring.

Additional information on the 2020 National Teacher of the Year finalists can be found below:

Chris Dier, 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year

Chris Dier became a teacher to follow the legacy of his mother, a lifelong teacher. In high school, Hurricane Katrina uprooted him to Texas, where he finished high school and attended East Texas Baptist University.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Dier returned to his home parish in Louisiana to teach. Dier, a 10-year teaching veteran, teaches world history and AP human geography at Chalmette High School in Chalmette. Prior to being named the Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, Dier was twice voted St. Bernard Parish District-Wide Teacher of the Year.

Dier is dedicated to providing an equitable and multicultural education to all students. He engages students by bringing aspects of their identity and culture to the forefront of their education.

He was featured in numerous publications and outlets for his work in the classroom and the community, most notably the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

Dier obtained Master of Arts degrees in teaching and educational administration from the University of New Orleans. He was also a Hollyhock Fellow at Stanford University, a program that brings educators together to create more inclusive classrooms. While at Stanford, he developed an equity project with the purpose of legitimizing student language. He now participates in a professional development program at Harvard Business School.

Dier authored “The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre: Blood in the Cane Fields,” published by the History Press.

To read Dier’s National Teacher of the Year Application, click here.

Leila Kubesch, 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year

Leila Kubesch helps students develop their own leadership skills, become globally- and civic-minded, and guides them to rise above challenges and advocate for community change. Kubesch teaches Spanish and English to Speakers of Other Languages at Norwood Middle School in Norwood, Ohio. Having committed to teaching in a high-needs school, she became resourceful in securing unique opportunities for her students.

With the goal of empowering all youth in the same manner as those in affluent communities, she fosters community partnerships, writes grants for innovative learning, and instills a mindset of dreaming big through large-scale service-learning projects that stem from youth initiatives. The work of Kubesch’s students has landed in museums around the country and won national recognition.

Kubesch’s passion for equity and social justice extends beyond the classroom. Kubesch served as an advocate for emancipated foster youth in Ohio by raising awareness of the plight of these youth. She presented to large audiences including TedXCincinnati, where she won the Audience Choice Award for her talk. She spoke with politicians and dedicated her effort until House Bill 50 passed, enabling foster youth in Ohio to have a home until age 21.

Kubesch places a high value on learning and has studied in eight countries. She earned a Master of Science in educational leadership from Purdue University and a Master of Arts in secondary education from Ball State University. She is a certified yoga instructor and her fellowships include Fund for Teachers, Christa McAuliffe and Fulbright Hays.

To read Kubesch’s National Teacher of the Year Application, click here.

Tabatha Rosproy, the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year

Tabatha Rosproy has helped her preschool students thrive as part of a partnership with older residents. Her classroom for Winfield USD 465 and Winfield Early Learning Center (WELC) in Winfield, Kansas, is housed in Cumbernauld Village, a local retirement community and nursing home. The program is an inter-generational one that provides preschoolers and residents with multiple daily interactions.

The program serves at-risk, special education and typically-developing preschoolers in a full-day setting. Community members visit Rosproy’s classroom daily to serve as grandparent volunteers, and the preschoolers are in the nursing home daily.

One year into the partnership, the program boasted the highest preschool literacy and math scores in the district and helped build new social capital in the community.

Rosproy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood from Southwestern College and is near completion of her Master of Science degree in education from Fort Hays State University.

Rosproy is active on her building leadership team, the co-head teacher of WELC and serves as co-president of Winfield National Education Association. She is also active at the state level with the Kansas National Education Association.

Rosproy is a member of the Cowley County Special Services Cooperative Early Childhood Academy Team, which provides training and support in positive behavior interventions for early childhood teachers in her county.

Throughout her decade of teaching, Rosproy has learned the importance of social-emotional education. She prioritizes social-emotional learning in her classroom and works to educate families and other educators on this important issue.

To read Rosproy’s National Teacher of the Year Application, click here.

Linda Rost, the 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year

Linda Rost values science education and has pushed her students to excel in the sciences. She teaches biology, anatomy and physiology, AP biology, chemistry and science research at rural Baker High School in Baker, Montana. Rost facilitated a successful science research program at Carter County High School in Ekalaka, Montana, from 2007-2014, and started the program at Baker in 2014. She is passionate about rural education and teacher recruitment and believes that all students deserve access to a world-class education, regardless of race, culture, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographic isolation.

During her 12-year career, 22 of Rost’s students have competed at national or international science competitions. One student placed first at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in 2012 and another placed third in 2019. Additionally, one placed third at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and four have placed fourth.

Rost obtained a Bachelor of Science in range science from New Mexico State University, a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction and a Master of Science in science education from Montana State University. She is pursuing a PhD in curriculum and instruction from Texas Tech University.

Rost is the chair of the Baker Public Schools Professional Development Committee, which she created in 2018 to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and Indian Education for All K-12 collaborations and grant projects. She serves as a teacher leader for the Montana Partnerships with Regions for Excellence in STEM and the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline grants. She will help implement a newly-funded National Institutes of Health PHAGES grant through Montana Tech, developing phage discovery programs for students at Baker High School and the Montana School for the Deaf & Blind, and mentoring teachers in authentic research experiences.

She is a three-time winner of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Teacher Award, a two-time Continental Cares grant recipient and the 2016 National Vernier Engineering Contest winner.

To read Rost’s National Teacher of the Year Application, click here.

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The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.