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Vancouver Educator Named State Teacher of the Year
Dynamic teacher librarian is a catalyst for 21st century education

SEATTLE — October 3, 2011 — Mark Ray, a teacher librarian at Skyview High School in Vancouver, was named Washington’s 2012 Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony today.

On behalf of State Superintendent Randy Dorn, Assistant Superintendent Dan Newell congratulated the nine Regional Teachers of the Year and announced the State Teacher of the Year at Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The event was hosted by EMP|SFM and the Charles Beresford Company.

Although unable to attend the event, Superintendent Dorn praised the group. “Mark and the 2012 Teachers of the Year represent our very best,” he said. “They are highly skilled and they have high standards for their kids, but they also know that relationships count and that great teaching happens one kid at a time.”

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies, and Saxton Bradley, Inc. each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for both Mark and the Regional Teachers of the Year.

For Mark, education is a family affair. Nearly 20 years into his career as a teacher librarian, he’s spent most of them in the same district where his father taught and his mother served lunch.

Parents and colleagues describe Mark as transformational and credit his vision and enthusiasm for the success of projects as varied as redesigning classroom assessment to igniting an enthusiasm for research in the student body.

Mark’s approach to working with students is based on a firm belief that there are many ways to say “yes” to a student and that even seemingly insignificant interactions can have an enormous impact on individual students. In addition to his work in the library and classrooms, Mark also coaches tennis at Skyview, where his nationally recognized “no cut” program welcomes students of all abilities.

Mark is an enthusiastic and creative partner. His efforts to empower teachers with technology and new communication skills are infused with a sense of urgency and possibility. Whether using Google Docs, Prezi or the pop culture phenomena of vampires, Mark is constantly reminding teachers that they have more control than they realize to dream and create new ways of engaging students.

“Every year, I can’t wait to see what new techniques he has come up with to help kids understand research,” said colleague Brenda McKinney. “From puppet to amazing Powerpoint skills, from in depth knowledge to saying it exactly how it is, Mark uses the stage of his media center to let kids know that research is accessible.”

Mark also believes passionately that teachers must begin stepping into more leadership roles and embrace the risk of trying something new if we are to meet the educational imperative of educating a new type of student and create a truly 21st century school system.

Regional winners

Before announcing the State Teacher of the Year, Assistant Superintendent Newell introduced the regional finalists. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession provide professional development for all nine finalists. Excluding Mark, who is from ESD 112, the Regional Teachers of the Year included:

John Hagney: Lewis & Clark High School - Spokane School District
Educational Service District 101
Social Studies and Humanities Teacher

Beth Mahugh: John Campbell Elementary School - Selah School District
Educational Service District 105
4th Grade Teacher

Lynne Olmos: Mossyrock Junior Senior High School - Mossyrock School District
Educational Service District 113
English and Drama Teacher

Mindy Eisele: Olympic High School - Central Kitsap School District
Educational Service District 114
English Teacher

Julie Trout: Gatewood Elementary School - Seattle Public Schools
Puget Sound Educational Service District 121
Art Teacher

Jaime Silva: Longfellow Elementary School - Pasco School District
Educational Service District 123
3rd Grade Bilingual Teacher

Brad Soliday: Manson High School - Manson School District
North Central Educational Service District 171
Social Studies Teacher

Tammy Buss Alejandre: Eagleridge Elementary School - Ferndale School District
Northwest Educational Service District 189
1st – 4th Grade Teacher

Next steps
The 2012 State Teacher of the Year, Mark, will be considered for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.

As the Washington Teacher of the Year, Mark, will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in 2011 - 12 while maintaining his duties at Skyview.

The award was selected by a two previous state teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations: the Washington Education Association; Washington State Board of Education; Washington State Parent Teacher Association; the Office of the Governor; the Professional Educator Standards Board; and the Washington Technology Industry Association.

Photos of each of this year’s finalists are posted on the OSPI education awards page:


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032


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