By Carissa Moffat Miller, Chief Executive Officer, CCSSO
Teachers, thank you.
To say the last year has been challenging is an understatement. Since March 2020, when we all had to accept the reality that school buildings were closing their doors and the traditional “classroom” would take on a new identity through where we are today, we have seen your unwavering commitment to your students.
The nation has witnessed you rise through times of abrupt displacement, prolonged uncertainty and compounded grief. Through it all, I am in awe of how you continued to keep students at the center and your dedication to finding ways to meet their varying needs.
Through the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year program we aim to elevate the voices of educators across the country, and I am fortunate to have learned a few lessons first-hand from some State Teachers of the Year -- including how they are meeting their students’ social and emotional needs this year. 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year Lynette Stant shared why starting the school year with a lesson on social-emotional learning was a great way to connect with students and Drawing with Mr. J, a webinar series developed by 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year Jonathan Juravich helped kids learn social and emotional skills through engaging drawing challenges, or Takeru Nagayoshi, 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, reminded us that it’s okay to look to our favorite social media influencers for engagement strategies when trying to provide emotional support to students.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only sharpened our focus on what it will take to provide an equitable education for all students, and the opportunity we have to pursue that more equitable, modernized system. Our teachers are leading in this work, too. The 2019 Maryland Teacher of the Year Richard H. Warren, Jr. and the 2019 National Teacher of the Year and Virginia Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson are embracing new roles that will allow them to recruit and support male teachers of color. Kelisa Wing, 2017 DoDea Teacher of the Year, was selected as an Equity Lab Nexus Fellow, joining a network of leaders seeking to address race and equity issues in their communities. State teachers are using their voices to elevate the important work of educators of color and to advocate for a voice in shaping their profession. Just last week 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy led a conversation with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in part touching on the importance of teacher voice and ensuring students have an equitable opportunity to learn.
Looking ahead, we will continue to lift teacher voice as we seek to create equitable educational opportunities for all students. Thank you for all that you do to support our students’ needs and create an education system where all students have an opportunity to achieve success.
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