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Tacoma Educator is National Finalist for Teacher of the Year
Lincoln High School government teacher is a winning combination of high standards, compassion, and community engagement

OLYMPIA — January 12, 2016 — Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, an AP government teacher at Lincoln High School and Washington’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year.

“We’re proud to have Nate representing Washington at the national level. He has high standards for himself, his colleagues, and his students,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “He represents what works in schools and classrooms. He listens more than he talks. He cares about his students and their experiences. He understands the struggles of his community, but he does not take ‘No’ or ‘I can’t’ for an answer. That’s why his students are successful, and it’s what makes him a Teacher of the Year.”

In Gibbs-Bowling’s classroom, students reargue famous Supreme Court cases, research the experiences of marginalized populations – looking for connections to current events, and investigate the storied history of their own home town. Colleague Jen Zamira describes him as a cross between a cheerleader, drill sergeant and college professor. “Everybody pretty much adores him,” Zamira said. “He's got such a heart. While the kids know he's tough on them, they also know he'll take a bullet for them.”

Gibbs-Bowling commitment to his students extends beyond the classroom. He is a mentor for the College Success Foundation; his church adopted a school without a local Parent Teacher, Student Association; he’s a star announcer at athletic events; and recently he helped organize a fall alumni support tour to visit graduates who are now at college.

“Nathan Gibbs-Bowling is not only a remarkable teacher, he also makes those around him better and improves the quality of the entire school,” said Patrick Erwin, Lincoln High School principal. “I have never seen someone so committed to student success in school and beyond as Nate.”

The other finalists for National Teacher of the Year include a high school history teacher from Connecticut, a high school social studies teacher from California, and a high school algebra teacher from Oklahoma.

The National Teacher of the Year program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers and presented by Voya Financial.

Next steps
The national finalists will travel to Washington, D.C. in February to interview with the National Teacher of the Year selection committee. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in April.

More information


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 provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Kristen Jaudon
Communications Specialist
(360) 725-6032 |

Nathan Olson
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


   Updated 1/12/2016

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