Las Vegas Special Education Education Juliana Urtubey was named National Teacher of the Year by the Board of Chief State School Officers.
Urtubey received a surprise visit Thursday morning from First Lady Jill Biden, herself an educator who aired on CBS This Morning. Biden brought a bouquet of flowers and a letter of thanks from the President to the new National Teacher of the Year.
Urtubey teaches preschool through fifth grade at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School, where she is credited with strategies for meeting students’ academic, socio-emotional, and behavioral needs, according to a press release.
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She is the first teacher in Nevada to win the award.
“I am determined to use our collective strength to create educational spaces where all children can thrive,” Urtubey said in a statement. “By focusing on the strengths of our children and families, we create more equitable systems for all students and value their diverse cultural, linguistic, cognitive and experiential talents.”
Urtubey spent 11 years at the school, where she is lovingly known as “Ms. Earth” for her commitment to beautifying the campus with community gardens that are tended by the “garden gnomes” run by students.
The council identifies exceptional teachers across the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in state and national policy discussions, the press release said.
“Juliana Urtubey is an example of the dedication, creativity and heart that teachers show to their students and communities,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the council, in a statement.
According to official data, Urtubey has been the first Latina teacher of the year since at least 2005.
“Juliana is a committed educator who has fostered student growth and connection with her community through her innovative school garden program,” wrote the selection committee. “She wants to uplift others, a true example of a teacher with a good attitude about helping people see their own strengths.”
Disability Scoop contributed to this report.
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