Kurt Russell is the 2022 Ohio Teacher of the Year

Kurt Russell began teaching 25 years ago with the belief that education can transform students’ lives. Since then, this veteran teacher at Oberlin High School has taught multiple courses including African American history, U.S. History, international baccalaureate history of the Americas, and a course on race, gender and oppression.
Russell received teacher of the year awards from the Oberlin Heritage Center in 2009 and the Oberlin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2019. In addition to teaching classes, Russell also serves as a lead teacher at Oberlin High School and as advisor for the Black Student Union, student council and junior class.

Since 1996, Russell has coached basketball for Oberlin City Schools. As the head coach of the boys varsity basketball team, he has received numerous awards, including the Lorain County Basketball Association’s Coach of the Year and the Northeast Ohio Coach of the Year.

Russell, who has always enjoyed learning about history, decided to become a teacher when he was in middle school.

He was inspired by his math teacher, who was the first Black male teacher he had in school. Russell went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history and minor in Black studies from the College of Wooster. He obtained a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Ashland University, and he continues to take courses in child development at Oakland City University.

What Is The Ohio Teacher of the Year Program?

Since its inception in 1964, the Ohio Teacher of the Year program annually identifies exceptional teachers statewide celebrating their effective work in and outside the classroom. The mission of the program is to provide opportunities for professional learning to exemplary teachers as leaders and advocates for public education. 

Selected teachers move through two levels of recognition: (1) the State Board District Teacher of the Year as a regional recognition and (2) the Ohio Teacher of the Year as the state-level recognition.

The Ohio Teacher of the Year program is a two-year opportunity:

  • Year 1 – Recognition, Celebration and Professional Development
  • Year 2 – Service to Ohio as a Teacher Fellow at the Department


​Who is Eligible?

A candidate for the Ohio Teacher of the Year (OTOY) is eligible to apply if they hold a valid Ohio Professional Teaching License or a Career Technical Teaching License; have taught a minimum of nine years, currently working in their tenth year of teaching; working a minimum of 120 days in the current school year; employed full-time in a state-approved public school, community school or career-technical center. Candidates also must work directly with students at least 50 percent of the time, have received no previous Ohio Teacher of the Year recognition and plan to continue in active teaching status. 

The Ohio Teacher of the Year candidate has the respect and admiration of their colleagues and: 

  1. Is an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence.  
  2. Collaborates with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success.  
  3. Deliberately connects the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large. 
  4. Demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning; and  
  5. Expresses themselves in an engaging and clear way. 


What Is The Selection Process?

Regional: State Board District Teacher of the Year

Ohio’s 11 educational regions are identified as State Board of Education (SBOE) Districts, each represented by an elected board member. A Territory Lead for each State Board District receives and verifies all nominee’s eligibility. Once confirmed, each nominee is invited to complete an Ohio Teacher of the Year online application for review.

Each Territory Lead facilitates a committee to review applications and select one State Board District Teacher of the Year

State: Ohio Teacher of the Year

Each State Board District Teacher of the Year moves forward as a candidate in the state-level Ohio Teacher of the Year selection process. A selection committee, identified by the Department, reviews the online applications and selects up to five state finalists. Each finalist will present a mock keynote and interview with a panel of education stakeholders. This panel follows a process outlined by the Department to confirm the final selection of the Ohio Teacher of the Year. Finally, the Department nominates the selected teacher for consideration as the National Teacher of the Year.

National: National Teacher of the Year

The Ohio Teacher of the Year is nominated by the Department to the National Teacher of the Year selection, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). A selection committee reviews applications from every State Teacher of the Year selecting four national finalists to interview. If selected as the National Teacher of the Year, the Ohio Teacher of the Year is then released from classroom duties for one year to travel nationwide as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession.

Additional Information

Previous Ohio Teachers of the Year

Last Modified: 4/19/2022 9:14:47 AM