Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Back to School: A Time to Celebrate Teachers

August 17, 2015
Throughout the week, Bill and Melinda Gates are celebrating teachers. Today, Bill is spotlighting Washington State Teacher of the Lyon Terry. Head to for more. 

The Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) is an active network that provides a professional home for state Teachers of the Year as well as for finalists and alternates.  It grew out of the National State Teachers of the Year service organization started in 1980.

NNSTOY focuses on engaging and supporting 1,000+ educators in broadly sharing and leveraging their expertise in practice, policy and advocacy.  Their mission is “To improve student learning across the nation by defining, sharing and advocating for effective teaching practices and policies.”  NNSTOY and its members seek to ensure that all students learn from highly effective teachers.  Last month in Seattle, over 80 NNSTOY teachers participated in the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) conference exploring the power of teacher leadership and leading several sessions. 

NNSTOY CEO Katherine Bassett describes the organization as a way to “repay to the field what we received as Teachers of the Year.”  While recognized for their expert classroom practice, state teachers of the year also receive training in policy and advocacy during their state recognition year.  As NNSTOY members, they look to build on their expertise and help other teachers grow as leaders also.

NNSTOY is working on many fronts to make this happen.  They are identifying and creating new types of professional career continuums and distributed leadership models so that teachers are able to stay in the classroom while also leading at the school, district, state or national levels. They’ve established ways for teachers to collaborate, share practices and design resources through efforts such as the Collaborative Center for Teacher Leadership. And, they are reaching out broadly to their membership to develop professional standards—or guiding principles—“developed by educators for educators to hold ourselves accountable.” 

Teachers of the Year across the country are leading some of the most exciting and cutting edge changes in education we are seeing today.  Take a look at what your state’s Teachers of the Year are up to at the Council of Chief State School Officers website.  

And, to learn more about what makes a Teacher of the Year, take a look at Bill Gates’ post on fourth grade teacher and Washington State Teacher of the Year Lyon Terry.

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