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Press Release

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CCSSO Announces Four Finalists for 2015 National Teacher of the Year Award

Finalists for Nation’s Top Teaching Honor from AL, HI, IN and TX
Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (January 14, 2015) -- They have faced blindness, a world of domestic violence and early discouragement to become beacons in their profession.

They educate children and empower them to reach their fullest potential in life. They hail from Alabama, Hawaii, Indiana and Texas.

They are the four finalists for the 2015 National Teacher of the Year. One of them will be named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year in April, spending a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers.

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers, 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.

"Few people can change a child's life like a great teacher. A teacher can inspire curiosity and confidence that lifts a student for life," said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. "It is clear these teachers have risen to more professional challenges than ever in the classroom, and their impact extends far beyond school walls."

The four finalists are:

Ann Marie Corgill, 2015 Alabama Teacher of the Year
Ann Marie Corgill teaches fourth grade at Cherokee Bend Elementary School in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

The published author and frequent speaker turned a missed learning opportunity in high school into inspiration to help students achieve in school, and life. Growing up, Corgill wanted to be an architect but says she felt unable to ever be successful in math, a subject she knew she'd need to use and understand in the profession she dreamed of pursuing.

"No, I'm not designing and building houses today, but for the past 20 years and over 500 students later, I've been designing authentic and engaging curriculum, lessons, and projects for my students," she says. "I've been building firm foundations for students to stand on as they learn, grow, and become successful, contributing members of society. I am an architect. I am a teacher. I am a builder of minds and hearts."

Learn more about Ann Marie Corgill, and why she was selected as a finalist.

Catherine Caine, 2015 Hawaii Teacher of the Year
Catherine Caine teaches a multiple subject curriculum for second grade students at Waikiki Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

She has taught at Waikiki since 1992, helping to create a "Mindful School," and focuses on critical thinking, project-based learning, Philosophy for Children, and the Habits of Mind.

Caine is a mentor teacher and a coordinator for both University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University's teacher development programs, and supports Philosophy for Children (p4c) through the Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education.

"Teaching presents joy and an intellectual challenge on a daily basis for me," she says. "I treasure the moments when authentic learning becomes linked to my instructional outcomes and transforms the teaching and learning process from practice into art. The process of guiding my students to learn 'how' to think and not 'what' to think sustains my love for the profession."

Learn more about Catherine Caine, and why she was selected as a finalist.

Kathy Nimmer, 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year
Kathy Nimmer teaches English 10, creative writing and senior composition at William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Nimmer had long wanted to be a teacher and realized that dream, undeterred by a retinal disease that gradually took her vision. She describes her teaching style in four ways: believing in innovation, communication, passion and filling what is empty and emptying what is full.   

"We all have a story to tell; mine includes a disability, but we all have something to overcome, and my students know that," she says. "Helping my students find their voices through writing and literature has been a privilege and will continue to be what feeds my soul. My passion for creativity matches the incredible imaginations of my students, so I am blessed daily."
 
Learn more about Kathy Nimmer, and why she was selected as a finalist.

Shanna Peeples, 2015 Texas Teacher of the Year
Shanna Peeples teaches English at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas.

Peeples worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, pet sitter and journalist before becoming a teacher, a profession that she says eventually chose her. She taught 7th grade English Language Arts for about six years before moving to high school. Peeples teaches AP English and serves as the English department chair as well as an instructional coach for other teachers.

"My students, survivors of deep and debilitating trauma, have shaped the kind of teacher I am," she says. "They have taught me to never make a promise I can't keep because so many already have learned to see the world through suspicious eyes. To be the best teacher to them, I have to remember this and honor their background. I remember so I can gain their trust because I want them to read and write their way out of where they are."

Learn more about Shanna Peeples, and why she was selected as a finalist.

The National Teacher of the Year Program, presented by Voya Financial, is a project of CCSSO in partnership with People to People Ambassador Programs. 

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, the National Teacher of the Year is then selected by a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators.

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

For more information on the National Teacher of the Year program, 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, 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.