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Agency of Education Announces 2023 Vermont Teacher of the Year Finalists

June 30, 2022

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2022
Contact: Suzanne Sprague,

Record-Number Applicants Highlight Excellence of Vermont’s Educators

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Today the Agency of Education announced four finalists for the 2023 Vermont Teacher of the Year. Drawn from a record number of applicants, the finalists span elementary and secondary grades across a range of disciplines from art to physical education. The 2023 Vermont Teacher of the Year will be selected from the finalists and announced early next school year.

“This year’s record number of applicants underscores the commitment and excellence of Vermont’s teachers,” said Secretary of Education Dan French. “After the challenges of the past school year, it is wonderful to celebrate the great work of so many remarkable candidates.”

This year’s finalists include:

  • Abbie Bowker: A visual art teacher at Champlain Valley Union High School in the Champlain Valley School District. What Ms. Bowker would share with colleagues: “It is my goal to educate the field and the public on the benefits of cognitive choice in education, the power of harnessing student interest, and identifying values and systems that align with and help support student choice and voice.”
  • Amy Clapp: An upper elementary teacher at Salisbury Community School in the Addison Central School District. What Ms. Clapp would share with colleagues: “Students need to continue to spend more academic time outside. It is proven that time outside makes kids happier, healthier, and stronger. Using the outdoors more has also been proven to be able to help with some of the increased behavior problems that we are seeing in our post-pandemic classrooms. Finally, providing teachers with strategies to continue to use the outdoors could help with some of the burnout that our teachers are experiencing.”
  • Aziza Malik: An upper elementary teacher at Champlain Elementary School in the Burlington School District. What Ms. Malik would share with colleagues: "My message centers around the dynamic exchange between school and community. I believe both are truly enriched when working together to support mutual goals. The world is a learning lab--there are places, people, and projects that have direct connections to our curriculum. The classroom can’t exist in a vacuum, and so I believe the curriculum and the community need to be woven together seamlessly – like bees and the gardens they pollinate. This is my goal: to afford students the opportunity to be an active community member in the present as they shape it for the future. "
  • Robyn Newton: A physical education teacher at Vergennes Union Elementary School in the Addison Northwest School District. What Ms. Newton would share with colleagues: “My message is that it’s critical now more than ever as we navigate the pandemic to increase quality physical education and unstructured play like recess or “brain breaks” in our schools… Several studies have proven the importance of play in children’s physical and mental health. Play and exercise increases academics, improves behavior, develops problem solving skills, and promotes independence.”

The selection process for the coming year’s Vermont Teacher of the Year occurs during the year of recognition of the present year’s Vermont Teacher of the Year. The 2022 Vermont Teacher of the Year is Karen McCalla, who has been a School Librarian/Technology Integration Specialist at Mill River Union High School for 19 years. As 2022 Vermont Teacher of the Year, Ms. McCalla has focused on the importance of a hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education for all students.

“The Teacher of the Year process has been a wonderful experience, particularly the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and engage in advocacy, collaboration and focused learning with my fellow state Teachers of the Year,” said Karen McCalla, the 2022 Vermont Teacher of the Year. “There’s so much incredible work being done in Vermont and nationwide in the field of education. My congratulations to the finalists!”

About the Teacher of the Year Program

Since 1964, the Agency of Education has recognized outstanding Vermont teachers through the Vermont Teacher of the Year award. The Teacher of the Year serves as an advocate for the teaching profession, education and students. The Teacher is also Vermont’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Vermont Teacher of the Year finalists are selected by a review committee of Vermont Teachers of the year, from an applicant pool of Outstanding Teachers nominated by each school district in Vermont and other educators nominated directly for the honor. Each finalist presents their platform to the Vermont State Board of Education, who scores their application, with the Secretary of Education selecting the teacher of the year from among the finalists. Finalists made their presentations to the State Board on June 15, 2022. The 2023 Teacher of the Year will be announced in early fall.

About the Outstanding Teacher Program

For over 40 years, UVM has annually recognized outstanding teachers throughout the state. Outstanding Teacher Day honors educators from each supervisory union or school district, which are invited to nominate one teacher at the elementary or middle school level, one at the secondary level, and one at the technical center level. Outstanding Teachers from across Vermont are eligible to apply for the Teacher of the Year Program.

About the Vermont Agency of Education

The Agency of Education implements state and federal laws, policies, and regulations to ensure all Vermont learners have equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities. The Agency accomplishes this mission through the provision of its leadership, support, and oversight of Vermont’s public education system.