Print this Page

Press Release

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

During Teacher Appreciation Week, CCSSO Celebrates the History of the National Teacher of the Year Program

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (May 5, 2015) - It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is celebrating teachers in a number of ways. We are sending thank-you notes to the educators who had an impact on our lives, and we are recognizing the amazing work they continue to do in classrooms across our country every day.

In addition, it's fitting that this week falls just days after the 2015 National Teacher of the Year was announced and state teachers from across the country were honored at the White House. CCSSO is proud of the National Teacher of the Year Program, one of its most significant and longstanding programs.

The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. Through the Program, CCSSO identifies some of the best 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.

The National Teacher of the Year is then chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. Each April, the National Teacher of the Year is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States.

Last Monday, Shanna Peeples, a high school teacher from Amarillo, Texas was named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year. But have you ever wondered: Who was the first National Teacher of the Year?

Her name was Geraldine "Gerry" Jones. She taught elementary school at Hope Public School in Santa Barbara, California. She was 23 years old when she was selected as a candidate for National Teacher of the Year. A parent at the school said, "Gerry has a unique charisma which enables her to make the ordinary extraordinary. She has the ability to elevate common, everyday experiences to a level of wonder and awe in the eyes of the children."

Hear from Gerry Jones in her own words and see original footage from her visit with President Harry S. Truman in 1952.  A special thanks to the Santa Barbara County Education Office for sharing this video with CCSSO.


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.