2018 Teacher of the Year Wants Her Refugee Students to Know They Are Wanted and Loved, to Give All Students and Teachers the Chance to Connect
Mandy Manning, an educator of refugee and immigrant students in Washington state, intends to utilize her position as the 2018 Teacher of the Year to advocate for schools to provide students and teachers with opportunities to explore new experiences and foster a stronger sense of community.
Manning expressed the need for both students and teachers to have the chance to "seek out things that are outside of their understanding and their perceptions." She shared these sentiments shortly after her victory was announced on CBS This Morning.
In addition, Manning believes that students should have opportunities to "build connections," as this tends to diminish after the early grades. While academic focus is important, she emphasized the importance of having a connected community that fosters collaboration and communication amongst its members.
Manning is an English and math teacher at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington, where she works with high school students in the Newcomer Center. In light of the current political climate, she feels it is crucial to ensure that her students know they are welcome and valued.
She aims to create a classroom environment that communicates to her students that they are wanted, loved, and capable, and she firmly believes in their potential to become outstanding members of the community. Manning believes that students who have immigrated are focused, dedicated, and determined to succeed and contribute positively to society.
The finalists for Teacher of the Year included Amy T. Anderson, an American Sign Language teacher from southern New Jersey; Kara Ball, an elementary school teacher at the Department of Defense Education Activity in North Carolina; and Jonathan Juravich, an elementary school art teacher in Ohio. The Council of Chief State School Officers oversees the annual Teacher of the Year program, with the winner being chosen by a committee of educational advocates. The award has been given since 1952.
Despite not initially planning to become a teacher, Manning discovered her passion for teaching after a brief stint as a paraeducator and teaching English as a Second Language in Armenia. She has since taught in various locations before settling in Spokane a decade ago.
Last year’s winner, Sydney Chaffee, focused on equity and justice issues, and was the first-ever honoree from a charter school.
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