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Home » Educator Support » Awards & Recognition » Educator Awards » Teacher of the Year » » Teacher of the Year and Regional Winners

Teacher of the Year and Regional Winners

2021 Washington State Teacher of the Year

Washington State Teacher of the Year

Puget Sound Educational Service District 121

Brooke Brown

Franklin Pierce

Brook Brown

Brooke Brown has taught English and Ethnic Studies at Washington High School for 14 years. As a powerful voice for equity in her building and district, she leads equity trainings, co-leads the school’s equity team, serves on the District equity team, and represents student voice on the school’s Foundation team (focused on addressing the racial opportunity gap by advocating for restorative justice practices and equitable discipline procedures).

Brooke believes that learning is done best in community. She works to center student experiences and reminds them how much she learns from them too. She advocates for educating the whole child, often using content to teach life lessons and challenge her students to look for ways to improve their communities.

Brooke uses her classroom to create a brave, inclusive environment for students to show up authentically by modeling it herself. She teaches her students about radical self-love and the need to cultivate an understanding of their identity as a prerequisite to developing empathy and compassion for others.

Brooke also realizes the need to impact the system in order to positively affect her students and the teaching profession. She is an integral part of the Bridge to College leadership team, where she mentors teachers in her area to support their students in rigorous, relevant coursework. She worked tirelessly to bring Ethnic Studies to her school and district and serves on the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee (where she works with a small group of stakeholders to create the framework the state will adopt for Ethnic Studies implementation statewide). She believes in the importance of hiring and retaining staff of color and has worked to mentor teachers in her building. She is committed to her students, her colleagues, and the teaching profession. She believes in each student and gives 100% to everything she does.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Capital Region Educational Service District 113

David Buitenveld

North Thurston Public Schools

David Buitenveld ESD 113 Regional Teacher of the Year

David Buitenveld teaches mathematics at Nisqually Middle School in Lacey. He leads the math team, serves on the leadership and AVID teams, co-leads the Drama Club — no, he didn’t see that coming — , created the Green School Club and crafted an elective class, How to Change the World, where students explore purpose in life, and view education as empowering them to make change. In his spare time, he enjoys Latvian dance and has performed throughout North America and in Latvia.

After twenty years in information technology and co-founding a worker-owned cooperative, David wondered if there was a deeper purpose to his life than coding in cubicles and managing teams of developers. Seeking his calling through alternative careers including architecture and permaculture, he eventually discovered the joy of teaching during a year tutoring his niece in calculus, leading to a year volunteering at a private middle school. His calling now clear, David earned his Master in Teaching in 2015 — endorsed in secondary and middle-level mathematics and physics — later becoming a Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator. David achieved National Board Certification during 2018–2019.

Initially planning to teach high school, David realized that middle school is where students’ identities become entrenched, therefore, that was where intervention could have the largest impact. David goes well beyond helping students understand math. He shows students what it looks like to love learning, and when there are setbacks, he reminds students that they matter. A tradition in his classroom: after the first math test, everyone gathers on the floor to talk about failure as a critical part of learning, how to respond to a poor grade, and how a test score never changes their value. Afterwards, students have eight minutes to celebrate or grieve, then spend the rest of the period playing with Ozobots. Sometimes they even have cake.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Northeast Educational Service District 101

Devin Bauer

Nine Mile Falls

Devin Bauer ESD 101 Regional Teacher of the Year

Devin Bauer is a Special Education Department Head and Learning Center teacher at Lakeside High School in Nine Mile Falls, Washington. He primarily teaches math to struggling students, while also assisting students with disabilities to succeed in their general education classes. Devin is the head football coach and work-based learning coordinator at Lakeside High School. Strong believer in positive relationships, Devin knows if students have adults in their lives that they can trust, opportunities for them are limitless.

In 2014 Devin was awarded the Teacher and Technology Award for his work in helping struggling readers succeed in their general education English classes. He proposed a grant that provided his students with reading pens that would allow students to quickly read and look up meanings of words they don’t recognize. Devin was also awarded the Outstanding Educator Award in 2016 from the Navy Recruiting District in Seattle.

Devin promotes inclusion for all students. When Devin started at Lakeside 75% of all special education students had grades modified in their general education classes with 17% of grades requiring significant modification. Currently in 2020, 14% of Lakeside’s special education students received modified grades and only one student with a significant modification. His students are in classes learning alongside their peers, and succeeding!

In Lakeside’s transition program, Devin saw a need for a more diversified and rigorous vocational program for his students with significant disabilities. In the past special education students often worked around the school and an occasional outside placement. Devin has changed Lakeside’s special education team’s vision. Through hard work and partnerships, Lakeside High School has students placed at the VA Hospital, Rosauers Grocery, Pet Grooming, Phase One Physical Therapy, and the county library because Devin believes in meeting the needs of all students.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Northwest Educational Service District 189

Ben Ballew


Ben Ballew ESD 189 Regional Teacher of the Year

Ben Ballew teaches English to students at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. Throughout his twelve years at AHS, he has worn many hats: as the Link Crew co-advisor, he is often the first face freshmen see at AHS; as a boys JV soccer coach, he helped establish a positive and competitive culture for young athletes; as the ASB advisor and Leadership teacher, he introduced the servant leadership philosophy to his campus and empowered students to meet the needs of their peers; and, as an ELA teacher, he has been a transformational leader in helping to develop racial literacy in his school and community.

Ben earned his Masters in Education through Walden University. He is a National Board Certified teacher in ELA Adolescence and Young Adulthood. He is currently in the process of renewing this certification. He is also continually “schooled” by his colleagues in the best English department this side of the mountains. These experiences have consistently reminded Ben that student learning should be at the forefront of any and all of his endeavors as an educator.

Beyond his classroom, Ben is an advocate for equity in all forms. He is a member of his district’s cohort for the Washington State Leadership Academy, a team tasked with identifying and improving equity efforts. He was a founding member of the Arlington Math Task Force, and is currently a member of the Principal’s Council for Diversity as well as his district’s Advisory Council for Education. He also worked with his district’s curriculum committee to develop and teach an ELA course focusing on issues of social justice.

On a daily basis, Ben strives to be a servant leader and an ally; he knows this is a reputation that must be earned, and he is constantly working towards that goal.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Educational Service District 123

Chenoa Meagher


Chenoa Meagher ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year

Chenoa Meagher was raised in poverty. She lived in a trailer without power or running water. Her strong teacher role models influenced her to become a teacher. Beginning her career in 2001, Chenoa has been a substitute and taught kindergarten, second and third grades. She has taught in Colorado and Washington. She uses her rich experiences to connect with all students.

Chenoa is most passionate about being a kindergarten teacher. She positively influences a students’ and parents’ first experiences in school. Chenoa’s students feel smart, and — most importantly — loved. Her students are prepared academically and emotionally for first grade in an environment that embraces each individual’s gifts.

Chenoa develops strong relationships with colleagues, parents and students. She does this through programs like Girls on the Run, which empowers girls through physical and emotional health. She established the Kinder in Kinder program that has impacted thousands of students in her district. As the Kennewick School District’s professional development coordinator for Kindergarten, she helps establish the district’s direction for learning. She is key to her building’s success by co-chairing the ATP (Action Team for Partnership), organizing Reading Night and Math Night events, creating a summer ATP outreach program, developing school culture with the Sunshine Committee and Carnival Committee, and setting a direction for professional practices with Site Team (school decision making body) and as the K-2 Leader. She is dedicated to teaching and serving her peers and her students.

Not only is Mrs. Meagher devoted to the educators of tomorrow, she’s invested in today’s educators. She invites student, practicum and beginning teachers into her classroom, as well as administrators and the media. Creating a continuous stream of learning demands that she extend beyond the reaches of her classroom and building. That’s what makes Chenoa Meagher a phenomenal educational leader.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Educational Service District 112

Erin Lark


Erin Lark ESD 112 Regional Teacher of the Year

Erin Lark teaches science and STEM at iTech Preparatory School in Vancouver. Using an interdisciplinary, literacy-driven approach, Erin has also taught reading, mathematics and history, also coaching volleyball and golf. Erin earned a Doctorate in Leadership at Creighton with her dissertation on youth innovator skills and STEM interests and proudly serves on the Board of the Washington Science Teachers Association and on LASER SW. She is a graduate program instructor, editor for an academic journal, blogger, and podcaster. Her belief in the power of STEM Education to propel all students into family-sustaining, future careers motivates her dedication to continuous learning as a joyful and necessary pursuit.

Originally from the desert southwest, Erin moved to Washington in 2006 and fell in love with volcanic landscapes and endless evergreens. Her teaching echoes this passion for the environment; students explore concepts like climate change through hands-on projects and service learning. Erin believes the innovators of tomorrow are in our classrooms today, teaching questioning and perspective-taking as keys to innovation. She takes a career-connected approach, building mentorship experiences with local organizations, knowing community-engaged students see themselves as agents of change with incredible potential.

Erin believes the purpose of STEM education is bigger than any one classroom, yet starts with reaching every child. “After being in her class, I have certainly paid more attention to the political and environmental issues,” one student shared, “it has made me realize what a strong impact we have on the health of our Earth and how we can preserve it.” Erin is also dedicated to working with and amplifying voices of teachers across the state. Principal Darby Meade shared that “Erin is a highly reflective and effective educator both for her students and colleagues. She is a champion for STEM and authentic learning in our school, district, and community.”

Regional Teacher of the Year

Educational Service District 105

Megan Anderson Reilly


Megan Anderson Reilly ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year

Megan Anderson Reilly is a strong advocate for multilingualism. She currently teaches Spanish at AC Davis High School in Yakima, Washington. Previously, she spent the last 4 years teaching newcomer English Learners (Els) at Washington Middle School. She develops language skills in fun, engaging ways. She creates strong relationships with her students. Likewise, she provides intensive academic support and promotes social-emotional well-being. She engages families and encourages their active involvement in the school community.

Megan, a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, is a passionate leader. In her district, Megan is a knowledgeable, respected voice for the use of best practices for language learners. Recently, she actively contributed on the district’s work group meetings to advocate for ELs. At the state level, she is an Executive Committee member for the state’s Bilingual Education Advisory Council. She collaborated with the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession to develop professional learning for teachers on equitable, engaging virtual instruction. At school, she facilitated the EL Committee and chaired the EL Department. She actively participated on the Instructional Leadership Team and provided professional learning to address issues of equity and needs of language learners.

Megan’s diverse teaching experiences help shape and inform her philosophy and approach. She has taught English at a university, community college, dual language school in Mexico, high school and middle school. She taught Science to language learners. She worked as a district EL professional development specialist. These experiences, along with her current Spanish teaching position, built a deep appreciation and value for linguistic and cultural diversity in her students and community.

Megan is a leader for change. She is a collaborative, student-centered, creative problem-solver. She has positively affected teaching practices and the education of many students to become multilingual in her school, district, region and state.

Regional Teacher of the Year

Olympic Region Educational Service District 114

David Tracewell

Central Kitsap

David Tracewell ESD 114 Regional Teacher of the Year

David Tracewell teaches English and Media Communications to students at Klahowya Secondary School in the Central Kitsap School District. Teaching mostly juniors in American Literature, David’s day also includes all grades from 6th through 12th. David advises numerous clubs such as the Guitar Club, Video Game Club, and Dungeons & Dragons Club. David is involved in nearly all aspects of the school especially in regards to assemblies and other functions and events.

David Tracewell’s classroom is nurturing, engaging, and fun. He pushes students to be better writers, readers, artists, musicians, and better people. David believes that a happy student is a better student. Taking the time to listen to his students’ dreams and hopes and trials and tribulations really makes a difference in the long term success of his students. He truly cares for all of his students and are considered family during the school year.

David lives the idea that it is better to give than to receive. That service above self has greater rewards. He advises his clubs on Mondays, so that students have something to look forward to — that Mondays feel like Fridays. David Tracewell is student first and foremost in all of his actions. David is also willing to work with his colleagues to come up with solutions to better not only the task at hand, but also the environment and overall school day. Because a happy teacher is also a better teacher.

Regional Teacher of the Year

North Central Educational Service District 171

Jackie Hentges


Jackie Hentges ESD 171 Regional Teacher of the Year

Jackie Hentges teaches science at Brewster Middle School. The majority of her students are low income (93%) and Hispanic (87%). She coaches Middle School volleyball and track and field. She advises the ASB, was on the school improvement team, and is on the building leadership team.

She teaches in the facilitator style with an inquiry approach allowing students to discover through investigation and practice. She believes strongly that students need to get credit for their success and facilitates while they achieve.

Jackie looks for new ways of making content relevant and engaging for her students. She seeks professional development, keeping current with trends in science education. She is a two year science fellow, NSTA member, and participant in LASER Alliance and CASTL. She has attended several AVID institutes. She received a Washington STEM grant, partnering with community stakeholders resulting in increased ASVAB scores. The RECON project gave students experiences outside the classroom, partnering with university physicists as well as schools and organizations along the west coast.

Her highest accomplishment is being a good daughter, sister, and excellent aunt. She feels going to work and contributing to the growth and development of her students and interacting with her colleagues is her next greatest achievement. She was Brewster’s Certificated Staff of the year and is honored to be nominated for Teacher of the Year.

She is a volleyball official, officiating in the state tournament 3 times. She has held office in the BEA for several years, currently as president. She is also a city council woman. She enjoys immersing herself in new cultures.

Jackie is invested in her students. She has high expectations for herself and her students. She tells her students that education opens doors, creates opportunities and forms a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.