Education Awards

Teacher of the Year

Washington's Teacher of the Year program recognizes as many as ten regional finalists and selects one state Teacher of the Year annually. This state Teacher of the Year is Washington’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year. 

Meet the 2019 Washington Teacher of the Year and Regional Winners

Previous Teachers of the Year

How is the Teacher of the Year selected?

Washington's educational service districts each select a Regional Teacher of the Year. The state selection committee chooses one of these Regional Teachers of the Year as the Washington State Teacher of the Year. The committee uses the written application, interviews, and a mock keynote to decide which candidate best exemplifies the Teacher of the Year criteria:

  • The teacher has the respect and admiration of their colleagues.
  • The teacher is an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence.
  • The teacher collaborates with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success.
  • The teacher deliberately connects the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large.
  • The teacher demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning.
  • The teacher expresses themselves in an engaging and articulate way.

When is the Teacher of the Year selected?

He/she is selected in mid-September. Regional finalists attend a day of interviews followed by a weekend leadership retreat in Olympia. The State Superintendent announces the Teacher of the Year the following Monday during our annual Teacher of the Year award ceremony at EMP in Seattle.

How do I nominate a teacher?

Nominate your teacher online. The nomination form opens in January.

What happens after I nominate a teacher?

OSPI sends your nominee, their principal and their regional coordinator a copy of the nomination and a link to the online application.

What do the State and Regional Teachers of the Year do?

  • Attend a long weekend (Friday – Monday) of interviews, leadership retreat and awards ceremony (mid-September).
  • Complete a collection of teacher tales to be shared with legislators, educational leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Travel the state and their regions to share their expertise with community groups, businesses, government officials and future teachers.
  • Identify and advocate for educational issues of particular interest to them.
  • Receive small cash awards and additional prizes in recognition of their achievements.

What does the State Teacher of the Year do?

  • Represent the state at all required National Teacher of the Year events including several national leadership conferences and the national recognition week in Washington, D.C.
  • Serve as the Teacher-in-Residence for Washington's Teacher of the Year program January - June.
  • Respond to and fulfill Teacher of the Year speaking requests, presentations, etc.
  • Sit on the Washington Teacher Advisory Council (WATAC) leadership team and help plan the spring convening.
  • Identify and take on at least one statewide initiative and carry out activities to support it.
  • Design and carry out a personal communication plan to include a social media and web presence, traditional media strategy, and other publications.
  • Network with teacher preparation programs across the state.


Nominations are now closed.

Nominations for 2020 will open in January 2019.

2019 Washington State
Teacher of the Year
Robert Hand
Robert Hand

Learn more about Robert


Teachers of the Year Release Annual Collection of Stories

Teachers of the Year Release Annual Collection of Stories


   Updated 9/11/2018

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