News Brief


CCSSO Announces 2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalists

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced the four finalists for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year today. The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of CCSSO in partnership with University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador Programs.

Cheryl Conley—2011 Florida Teacher of the Year
Conley is a fourth grade teacher at Osceola Magnet Elementary School in Vero Beach, Florida. She has taught a total of 11 years, the last four at Osceola Magnet, a school of 536 students.

“Progress is never made by standing still or by relying on the same tired, old ideas. It is up to us as teachers to push the envelope – to transform education by developing ideas that are bigger and better than ever before. I would like to encourage my fellow teachers to be a catalyst for change, for optimism and for growth by becoming a teacher leader or by finding a new teacher to mentor or a struggling teacher to help. We must take the initiative by raising the bar and setting higher standards. We must stop the blame talk and come to the collaboration table to participate in the tough conversations with lawmakers, administrators and parents in order to tackle the toughest issues in education. Our nation’s children are worth it. Education reform can seem overwhelming, but together we can make miracles happen.”

Annice M. Brave—2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year
Brave is an eleventh and twelfth grade English and journalism teacher at Alton High School in Alton, Illinois. She has taught for 23 years, the last fifteen at Alton High which has 2,039 students.

“Ask any parent, ‘Are you getting rich off your kids?’ and unless their kid’s name is Justin Bieber, the answer will be, ‘No, Kids cost a fortune!’ Yet parents continue to pay for ballet lessons, math tutoring, braces, and expensive shoes because we know that the pay-off will be when our kids grow up and become productive members of society. So why does our society think we can cut corners on state of the art facilities, nutrition programs, early childhood education, or technology? Money we invest in our children is money in the bank, and when I speak of ‘our’ children I’m not talking about biology. As Americans we must accept the fact that our nation’s children are everyone’s responsibility. To secure a safe and prosperous future for our nation, we must be raising great kids. That means we need to invest not only our money but our time and energy in supporting the concept of having a great teacher in every classroom or each and every American public school.”

Michelle M. Shearer—2011 Maryland Teacher of the Year
Shearer is a tenth through twelfth grade chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Maryland. She has taught at this school of 1655 students for nine of her fourteen years in the education profession.

“All who call school our second home know that teaching is inspiring and frustrating, rewarding and challenging. We always work hard, we sometimes work magic, but rarely can we work miracles so we need support particularly from the key stakeholders in the educational process. Parents: We need your input and involvement since you have the greatest power to influence in a positive way your child’s school performance. Students: We need your energy and creativity. Take ownership of your education which opens doors and gives you options for the future. Community members: We need your support and optimism. Invest in your local schools, celebrate students’ efforts to make positive contributions to communities and participate in constructive discussions on educational issues affecting us all. Teachers: Use your energy and personal spark to ‘jump-start’ your students’ efforts. Teachers must breathe life into classrooms…even as we gasp for air ourselves.”

Paul Andersen—2011 Montana Teacher of the Year
Andersen is a ninth through twelfth grade science teacher at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Montana. He has been an educator at Bozeman High, a school of 1,850 students, for nine of his sixteen years as a teacher.

“Two characteristics shared by all great teachers are sincerity and humility. The transformative teachers in my own life always made a personal connection. They were willing to laugh at themselves and change direction when their methods were not effective. The art of teaching cannot be learned but it can be cultured. Teaching shapes the future. The quality of teaching will determine the success of our society. We need to value our schools and nurture good teachers. This will not happen without our help and so teachers must take an active role in this process. We must advocate for our profession and embrace change. We must use effective technology to prepare our students for the next century. We must learn from our failings and never lose hope.”