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Those Who Can

Meet The 4 Finalists For The 2017 National Teacher Of The Year Award

With awards season underway, it’s important to recognize the real stars in your kid’s life. Not you — teachers. Fortunately, the Council Of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has been celebrating educators since 1952. And although the official Teacher Of The Year will not be named until April, the program recently released the names of the top 4 finalists who were selected by a panel that represents 15 renowned education organizations. They’re kind of a big deal.

The award is traditionally presented by the president in a White House ceremony in the spring. The winner will leave the classroom for a full year to be a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession. It’s kind of like Miss (or Mrs., or Mr.) America, but with fewer bathing suits. And the nominee’s are:

Sydney Chaffee, 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

Sydney Chaffee is a ninth grade Humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School, an EL Education school, as well as a National Board Certified Teacher. Her work is all about teaching kids to make change — and not just at their afterschool McJob. Read more about Chaffee here.

Chris Gleason, 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year

Chris Gleason is an instrumental music teacher (#dadpuns) and band director at Patrick Mark Middle School, but he teaches more than how to march while holding a horn. “My teaching isn’t about playing notes or learning a new skill on an instrument; rather, it is about looking at life through the lens of another human or artist and considering a new thought or different point of view,” he says. Read more about Gleason here.

Megan Gross, 2017 California Teacher of the Year

You know Ms. Gross is a great teacher because every single day she has to endure kids making jokes about her last name. But seriously, she’s worked with children with disabilities for nearly a decade, and is currently a special ed teacher at Del Norte High School. Read more serious facts about Gross here.

Athanasia Kyriakakos, 2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year

The Greekest finalist by far, Athanasia Kyriakakos isn’t just a public school teacher, she’s a world-renowned artist who challenges students and parents to do more than correctly pronounce her last name. “By proving to parents that their children can achieve, we break down the wall of mistrust urban families often have with the education system,” she says.  Read more about Kyriakakos here.

Only one of them will get the award, but the real prize everyone gets to take home is a) an increased awareness that teaching is a tough gig, and b) parents should be paying more attention to educators than to whatever the hell Tom Hiddleston says from a podium.