2019 Teacher of the Year:
Danielle Riha moved to Alaska in 1995 and fell in love with the state. Substitute teaching in Alaska inspired her to earn a teaching degree from the University of Alaska. Riha taught in rural Alaska for seven years with Southwest Region School District, where she learned the value of culturally responsive teaching which incorporated indigenous knowledge and developed a successful reading program that included Yup’ik elders in the classroom. In 2008, she was recruited to help open the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School where she helped develop culturally infused curriculum, created the Morning Gathering, and implemented Culture Week. Riha also works on the Alaska Humanities Forum Educational Advisory Board to help new teachers and all students understand and connect to indigenous culture and lifestyle and she helped create Math in the Cultural Context modules used in districts state-wide.
Riha holds high expectations for every member of the learning community. She inspires everyone to be their best self and master personal challenges by recognizing strengths and working through difficulties. She believes that teachers must work collaboratively to form bonds that create supportive, successful learning communities.
Riha holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Alaska, a master’s in education from Grand Canyon University, and is working on her doctorate in education at Cappella University.