2011 Teacher of the Year
Teacher of the Year and Regional Winners
Language Arts Teacher
Puget Sound ESD 121 Regional Teacher of the Year
Kent School District
Kentwood High School
Seattle Pacific University, Master of Arts (Teaching), 2003
University of Washington, Bachelor of Arts (Communications), 1994
Jay began his professional life as a sports journalist.
But since 2001, Jay has taught language arts to sophomores
at Kentwood High School. He is a National Board Certified
Jay teaches in a blended honors classroom where honors,
ELL, special education and core students all partake of a
rigorous and scholarly curriculum that he enriches with
seminars and literary circles. Jay also teaches the
intervention courses at Kentwood which targets students who
have already failed to meet standard on statewide
assessments. Eighty percent of the intervention students who
have Jay go on to meet standard.
Jay is an incredibly reflective practitioner who is
constantly in the process of assessing his own work as well
as the work of his students. Jay's curriculum is alive with
relevancy as he ties complicated literary themes such as
'the mask' to popular films and music and gives students
choice in selecting reading materials. Jay is a natural
Jay's experience observing and reporting on successful
athletes and teams has given him a unique perspective on the
symbiotic nature of the education team. He strongly believes
the greatest success is achieved for students when teachers
and parents work in tandem to support and encourage student
learning. Parents appreciate his weekly e-newsletter, and he
works with colleagues to develop their own parent
Jay approaches the work of educating future citizens with
a reverence that inspires colleagues and parents alike. He
describes the simple practice of listening to students as
the key to success in the classroom.
Assistant Principal Joseph Potts praises Jay saying: "He
has a track record of success and his level of 'grit,'
defined here as perseverance and passion for long-term
goals, is unparalleled in our school . . . What makes a
great teacher? Ask his students or observe Jay Maebori
teach; either way, you'll know the answer."
2011 Regional Teachers of the Year
ESD 101 Regional Teacher of the Year
Odessa School District
Odessa High School
Montana State University, Master of Science (Science Education), 2003
University of Montana, Bachelor of Arts (Zoological Sciences), 1992
& (Environmental Sciences), 1996
Jeff is THE science teacher at Odessa High School, where he
focuses not on teaching science, but on creating scientists.
Jeff believes that students should live their education and be
able to connect what they are learning to the world around them.
This philosophy has paid off at Odessa High where 87% of high
school students met standard in 2009 and many students go on to
successful study in science at college.
The best example of Jeff's teaching philosophy in action is
the Advanced Scientific Research (or ASR) course he created at
Odessa. Students enrolled in ASR work on a year-long independent
study in any scientific discipline where they formulate and test
a hypothesis and analyze the outcomes. Jeff's ASR students write
journal articles, create presentations for the community and
compete at the state and national level.
In addition to teaching at the high school, Jeff works with
elementary teachers online and in person to strengthen their
science skills and make them more comfortable using
inquiry-based science and the scientific method. The result is
that more students are now meeting standard at the elementary
and junior high level.
Jeff recognizes the value of collaboration across districts
as well. He hosts a Bi-County Science Challenge where student
teams from across the area compete in a "Junkyard Wars" style
science collaboration. This event also serves as an excellent
networking opportunity for science teachers scattered across the
Most impressive is the testimony of his student, Jessica:
"[Mr. Wehr's] energy and enthusiasm for teaching help him
connect with his students making learning fun. He pairs hands-on
labs with class discussions, which incorporates every student in
the class giving us all the ability to express our thoughts and
ideas and work together for one common goal . . . He has given
unlimited help, support, time, and dedication to all of his
classes which, in turn, has created very successful scientists
2nd Grade Teacher
ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year
Ellensburg School District
Valley View Elementary
Central Washington University, Master of Arts (Reading), 1994
University of Maine – Farmington, Bachelor of Science (Elementary and Special Education), 1979
Tracey teaches in Ellensburg where she began as a special
education teacher and for the past six years has taught second
grade. She is a lifelong learner whose enthusiasm for the craft
of teaching has only increased over her 17 years in Ellensburg.
Described by her colleagues as the "go to" person for
anything creative (from holiday programs to classroom management
strategies), Tracey is also resourceful when it comes to finding
funds for projects. She recently secured grants to fund
technology improvements and training, professional development
in writing and field trips. When the PTA found extra money in
its budget, Tracey was quick to coordinate a project that would
make a significant impact in the classrooms of Valley View –
mounting projectors to the ceilings.
In addition to serving for seven years as an adjunct
instructor for Central Washington University's special education
department, Tracey has also hosted practicum and student
teachers in her classroom.
Tracey is passionate about collaboration. Every new
professional development opportunity she acquires quickly
becomes a resource for her entire school. She is also an active
member of the Valley View PTA and sits on the Board of Directors
for the Kittitas County Head Start.
In Tracey's classroom, fairness and attention to the
individual needs of students combine to create independent
learners. She masterfully provides each student with the exact
resource or support he or she needs while unobtrusively
redirecting the fidgeter in the last row or the daydreamer in
the back corner. Because they feel valued as individuals,
Tracey's students have the confidence to explore creative
solutions and think critically.
As one grateful parent observes: "Tracey has an amazing way
of seeing each child as an individual with specific needs and
strengths, and then addressing those with her creative teaching
style. My children are quirky, and Tracey embraced those quirks
instead of viewing them as hurdles."
ESD 112 Regional Teacher of the Year
Washougal School District
Washougal High School
The Evergreen State College, Master in Teaching, 2005
University of Colorado – Boulder, Bachelor of Arts, 1996
Brian teaches Spanish and is the department chair for foreign
languages at Washougal High School. In the five years since
Brian's arrival the number of Spanish classes has nearly
doubled, more students are enrolling in advanced Spanish and the
school has had to add another Spanish teacher.
As a young adult, Brian traveled extensively throughout Latin
America and, in his words, fell in love with the language and
customs of the Spanish speaking world. Today he strives to
replicate that immersion experience in his classroom by
integrating cultural studies, music, art and socio-economics
into the practical work of reading, writing and speaking
Brian's fluency in Spanish makes him a resource for his
entire school. He routinely makes phone calls on behalf of
colleagues and translates for parent-teacher conferences with
Spanish speaking families.
Brian believes strongly in hands-on engagement in the
classroom. A visitor to his classroom will see students practice
their language skills through active storytelling, discussion,
games and more. Brian encourages his students to practice their
Spanish at home and invite their families to cultural events
such as Salsa dancing and Dia de los Muertos. His students also
create original children's books in Spanish that are used at a
local elementary school.
His colleagues observe that Brian's comfortable, joking
demeanor instantly puts students at ease. His classroom feels
casual and relaxed, but is centered on lessons that are crafted
with the precision of an architect to both engage students while
simultaneously assessing their progress.
Assistant Superintendent, Rebecca Miner praises him: "Brian's
contributions in the classroom, school and district are
remarkable. It is sometimes said that teaching is a combination
of art and science, and Brian is a teacher whose artistry make
the science of teaching a pleasure to observe. His students
richly benefit from his talents."
Mathematics and Leadership Teacher
ESD 113 Regional Teacher of the Year
Rochester School District
Rochester Middle School
Walden University, Master of Science (Middle Level Mathematics), 2009
City University, Bachelor of Arts (Elementary Education), 2005
Carrie teaches math, algebra and leadership at Rochester
Middle School. Nearly 70% of all 8th graders at her school will
have Carrie for math, and they will all hear her mantra: "It's
never too late to love math!"
Since her arrival four years ago the number of 8th graders
meeting standard on statewide assessments has doubled. Carrie
works tirelessly with her team and math coach to develop
innovative methods and utilize new technologies in the
classroom. Last year she started an after school math club
(regular attendance was 25 kids) and the math team entered both
regional and national competitions. Since her algebra class
counts for a high school credit, she also works closely with the
high school math department.
As the ASB advisor of just three years, Carrie has built a
cadre of school leaders who model compassion for students at the
middle school and service to the community outside of their
school. From school levies and food drives to charity walks and
holiday meals – Carrie's leadership students are just about the
most active volunteers in their community!
Carrie is passionate about developing a culture of respect
and empathy in her school and to combat the often devastating
effects of bullying. She has coordinated an anti-bullying
campaign and is developing lessons for advisory focused on
nurturing positive behavior.
Carrie's dedication to her students and the craft of teaching
is an inspiration to many. Colleagues marvel at her overnight
leadership retreat that begins on the last day of school and
often credit her with rekindling their love of teaching. Parents
praise her as an exceptional role model, especially for girls
who are ready to love math.
As her colleague, Beth Wilson, observes, Carrie is
transformative: "She is highly intelligent and insightful. She
sees things as a whole system and grasps how every stakeholder
will be affected while the rest of us are still grappling with
the idea. She is resourceful and connected to people who can
help, and she finds a way to make anything of value to our
students and school happen despite the obstacles . . . the best
and the brightest of our staff seek Carrie's input and
perspective on projects, and she somehow makes them believe they
can do even more than when they sought her out."
Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher
Olympic ESD 114 Regional Teacher of the Year
Port Angeles School District
Stevens Middle School
University of Idaho, Master of Arts (Teaching Writing), 2002
University of Idaho, Bachelor of Science (Education - Secondary English), 2000
Melissa has taught 7th grade Language arts and social studies
at Stevens since 2002 where her classes include high need, high
risk and highly capable students.
Melissa approaches teaching as a multi-sensory endeavor. Her
classroom is alive with colors, wall hangings and other
decorations, and her curriculum is equally engaging. Creating
their own board games and writing children's books keep
Melissa's students invested in their learning and having fun.
Melissa embraces the challenges in education today as
opportunities for evolution. The year after she arrived at
Stevens, Melissa and a group of colleagues spent the year
investigating the concept of Continuous School Improvement. The
next year Melissa applied what she learned to help created a
standards based calendar for her school in reading and writing.
She seeks out opportunities to explore new techniques and
curriculum models, and returns to Stevens and her colleagues
brimming with resources and enthusiasm.
Melissa sees language arts as a bridge between the many
different subjects that students must master. Communication and
critical thinking, she argues, are essential skills in any
discipline, and students need to know how to use them. Melissa
is also passionate about empowering students to become leaders.
Last year she nominated a small group of students to attend a
national leadership conference in Washington DC and worked with
them throughout the year to make this dream a reality.
For all of Melissa's 7th graders, her classes are
captivating. She expertly weaves content and experiences
together to create an environment where students see connections
between literature and their own lives, where they learn that
they have the power to change the world and where they can't
One student reflects on Melissa's impact on her life: "She's
more than a teacher. I'll always look up to her, seeing her as
one of the people who have influenced me in my life – and I'll
always look back on my seventh grade year and think of how lucky
I was to be able to experience all that I did, thanks to Mrs.
Bilingual Science Teacher
ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year
Pasco School District
Pasco High School
Washington State University, Bachelor of Science (Physical Science), 2003
John has taught bilingual science at Pasco High School for
the past 6 years. He is a National Board Certified Teacher. John
exhibits a tangible excitement for science that colleagues and
students describe as contagious. On any given day you will find
John narrating stories, teaching his students a new rap song or
demonstrating a life-sized hovercraft.
John is in the enviable position of having a teaching
assignment that capitalizes his love for both science and
Spanish, and he works tirelessly to achieve that perfect balance
between the two. He is a Guided Language Acquisition Design or
GLAD Key Trainer and works with teachers in his building and
around the district to help them learn and utilize strategies
for working with English language learners.
John has also developed a parallel science curriculum in
English and Spanish that is equally rigorous. John is a powerful
advocate for ELL students especially recent immigrants. He works
hard to remind the public that his students are often excellent
readers in Spanish, to promote the many capabilities of students
who are learning English and to provide a thrilling science
John leads the freshman team, but because he takes a holistic
approach to education he also works with teachers in other
departments to develop common strategies across content areas.
John's approach to grading is equally holistic. His focus on
mastery of content – using rubrics based on state standards
instead of accumulated points – helps struggling students map
their progress and encourages advanced students to undertake
more challenging study.
John's principal, Raul Sital, simply states: "His passion for
education is catching. His teaching strategies are unrivaled,
and his classroom is a place of wonder."
North Central ESD 171 Regional Teacher of the Year
Shippensburg University, Master of Science (College Counseling), 1972
Shippensburg University, Bachelor of Elementary Education, 1969
Ron teaches 1st – 8th grade at the Stehekin School; a
position he has held for the past 34 years.
Because Stehekin is a one room school, Ron has become a
master at creating thematic interdisciplinary units that engage
all of his students' senses and keep them engaged over a period
of years – a student who enters 1st grade at Stehekin will be in
Ron's ‘class' for eight years.
After 34 years, Ron's pure joy in his work is
undiminished.Visitors to Stehekin School have the rare
opportunity to observe students at multiple levels working
together around a particular subject or theme. Young students
are encouraged as they read aloud their first poem by older
students who are learning to become compassionate leaders.
Ron is widely respected as an expert in implementing
developmentally appropriate classroom activity. He believes
strongly in "teaching to the hands and feet," as they say in
Stehekin, and is passionate about incorporating artistic and
physical activity into the more traditional academic
disciplines. Knitting, calligraphy and even juggling are
seamless woven into the school day at Stehekin as Ron carefully
gauges the intellectual development of each student and provides
them with tactile activities to support their own maturation
Ron has embraced the gifts of his remote community. He is the
editor and publisher of the local newpaper, president of the
Stehekin Heritage organization and emcee for Stehekin's annual
Trillium Festival. Outside of Stehekin, Ron spent 8 years on the
Professional Educator Standards board (he was an inaugural
member) and has traveled the country to teach other educators
lessons he has learned about education, children and community
in Stehekin. Lessons that transcend his small community.
Like Stehekin, Ron is an original. His former ESD
Superintendent Gene Sharratt confirms: "There is only one Ron.
Ron is a model of teaching excellence and exceptional classroom
instruction. It has been my personal and professional privilege
to observe Ron over the past two decades. He continually
reaffirms my respect for the power of learning and the
significance of exemplary classroom teaching. His impact on
students is immediate, his legacy profound."
Jo Anne Buiteweg
Northwest ESD 189 Regional Teacher of the Year
Everett School District
Sequoia High School
University of Washington, Master of Education (Language Arts), 1994
Michigan State University, Bachelor of Arts (English Education), 1989
Jo Anne has worked in Everett Public Schools for the past 20
years as a teacher and specialist. In 2007 she joined the staff
at Sequoia, an alternative high school. She is a National Board
Jo Anne has always had a heart for students on the fringes of
education, and in the early 90s was part of a team of educators
at Everett High School that used interdisciplinary study to
target students who were statistically "at risk." Today, she has
found a home at Sequoia where the emphasis is placed on skill
mastery and student choice and the faculty operates as a
collaborative whole rather than a group of isolated individuals.
These values are well aligned with Jo Anne's own educational
philosophies. She is passionate about meaningful assessment and
grading systems that measure competency and empower students to
evaluate themselves. Although Jo Anne has goals for her
students' achievement, she also works hard to balance what she
knows they need with their own ambitions and mixes in just the
right amount of emotional support that her students need to
encourage academic risk taking.
The result is a uniquely thoughtful and refreshingly honest
student teacher relationship. Because Jo Anne's students know
that she cares deeply not only for them, but for the adults they
will become they actively seek out her critical feedback and she
is able to be unflinchingly honest about their accomplishments.
Jo Anne is an exemplary teacher leader with a deep knowledge
of school reform and the ability to guide her colleagues through
difficult educational shifts such as "grading for learning" and
the high school culminating exhibit with ease. At Sequoia, Jo
Anne has guided the staff through a peer review of teaching
units that has taken their professional development to the next
level. All of these efforts are underpinned by Jo Anne's
conviction that the practice of education is in the public
sphere and should be made transparent to the whole community.
Her colleague, Kevin Corbett, summarizes: "Jo Anne's passion
for teaching is surpassed only by the character and integrity
she brings to the profession. As an exceptional teacher, leader
and community representative, she not only possesses – she
LIVES, the requirements for Teacher of the Year."
Washington Tribal Schools
Washington Tribal Schools Regional Teacher of the Year
Chief Leschi School
Antioch University, Master of Arts (Education), 1999
Pacific Lutheran University, Master of Arts (Education), 1994
Abigail has taught in the elementary school at Leschi for 16
years as kindergarten and 2nd grade teacher and more recently as
the Instructional Coach for reading.
In 2003 Abigail co-wrote and was awarded a six-year Reading
First grant for Chief Leschi through the Bureau of Indian
Education. Abigail moved into the role of grant manager and
instructional coach and began the process of transforming
reading instruction at the elementary level. Although this
represented a major cultural and educational shift for the
school, Abigail's sense of urgency and encouragement were
irresistible. Now, as a new class of grant recipients begins the
process, Abigail has been tapped as national resource.
Whether with students, colleagues or parents, Abigail put
relationships first. Abigail has made a lasting commitment to
the students and families of Leschi and the Puyallup Tribe, by
immersing herself and her family in the community. Students and
families see Abigail at sporting events, powwows, weddings and
funerals and they know she is reliable – that Leschi is not a
temporary home for her. In addition to her duties as an
instructional coach, Abigail hosts weekly events for parents at
the school and facilitates a community group that is
coordinating birth to 5 services. Now, Abigail is honored with a
new responsibility as her former students, bring their children
to the preschool at Leschi and ask her to "keep an eye out for
Her skill at relationship building combined with an
infectious confidence that seems to rub off on those around her,
are what make Abigail such a successful instructional coach.
Despite her high standards and frank observations, struggling
teachers do not feel threatened by Abigail.
For Abigail the ability to dream, explore and escape that
reading provides is the greatest gift she can give. She has
transitioned to the role of instructional coach, but Abigail
sees the entire elementary school as her class – all 460 of
them! She still experiences that pure joy of teaching a child to
read that she did in her kindergarten classroom.
Her colleague and fellow instructional coach, Jill Hartley,
praises Abigail: "She is one of the most amazing educators I
have ever met . . . She has committed her life to improving and
impacting the way Native American children and their families
view education with complete cultural competency. She is
passionate for education and compassionate for students. She is
truly a gift."