Teacher of the Year

The mission of the Vermont Teacher of the Year Program (VT TOY) is to promote the teaching profession and to recognize educators who are modeling “best practices" in Vermont’s schools. The Vermont Teacher of the Year is an outstanding teacher who represents the thousands of excellent educators in our state. They serve as an advocate for the teaching profession, education, and students. 

2019 Teacher of the Year

The Agency of Education is pleased to announce that Thomas Payeur, a mathematics teacher at Winooski High School is the 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year. Thomas Payeur has been teaching mathematics for six years, all of those at Winooski High School. He is an innovator in the field of proficiency-based education, leading school change efforts to develop best practices in teaching 21st century skills. His mathematics instruction is grounded in research-based methods. His students come from all around the world and constantly challenge him to rethink his assumptions and explore new ways of problem-solving. He strongly believes that all people are math people.

"This honor is an absolute validation of the struggle to reform education with a focus on 21st century skills, across the state of Vermont and the nation as a whole,” said Payeur. When communities are given time and space to come to consensus on the skills their future generations will need to master, hope, possibility, and success bloom in tangible results. The work requires relentless persistence, artful communication, flexible problem solving, imaginative creativity, cultural competence and a focus on the well-being of all involved. The students, staff and larger community of Winooski regularly embody these skills, and as such, I dedicate this honor to them."Also recognized were the 2019 Vermont Alternate Teacher of the Year, Beth Fraser, a mathematics teacher at Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River and Distinguished Finalist Shane Heath, a science teacher at Northfield Middle High School.

2018 Teacher of the Year

Linda Cloutier-Namdar M.Ed., has been a teacher in the 9th Grade Core since its inception at EHS (Essex High School), and has also served as a mentor teacher. She is currently a class advisor at EHS, a Flynn Theater Teacher Leader, and a writer for the Essex Westford Education Association. In addition to work on a wide range of school committees, she has taken part in school literacy initiatives, and is a member of the English/Language Arts (ELA) Vertical Team for the district. Cloutier-Namdar piloted and helped to edit an ELA Transferable Skills Task, working with staff from the Great Schools Partnership and the Vermont Agency of Education. A member of the Vermont Writing Collaborative (VWC), she has presented workshops at VWC Summer Institutes, and co-presented a workshop at the 2017 New England Secondary School Consortium School Redesign in Action event. As a graduate of UVM and St. Michael’s College, she counts herself fortunate indeed to be a Vermont teacher. Cloutier-Namdar’s tenure as 2018 Vermont Teacher of the Year will begin January 1. Also recognized were: Dr. Sara Doncaster, M.F.A., Music Director at Lake Region Union High School in Barton, Vermont and Karen Greene, M.A.T. a high school English teacher at Middlebury Union High School.

2017 Teacher of the Year

Katherine McCann, a High School Mathematics Teacher at U-32 Middle and High School in East Montpelier; has been selected as the 2017 Vermont Teacher of the Year. In addition to teaching Advanced Placement Statistics, Geometry, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2; Katherine is also a National Board Certified Teacher, Presidential Award winner for Excellence in Teaching Math and Science, and co-president of the Vermont Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Also recognized are Alternate Rachael Potts, a Special Education and Transition Specialist at Harwood Union High School; and Finalist Corey Smith, a Fourth Grade Teacher at Proctor Elementary School.

2016 Teacher of the Year

Susan Koch, a Union Elementary School Kindergarten and First Grade teacher, has been selected as the 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year. In addition to teaching first grade, she has encouraged and developed the Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) Program in Montpelier. This outdoor education program has now spread to all of the grades at Union Elementary. All students are given the opportunity to learn in a natural setting throughout the entire school year. Also recognized are Alternate Anne Marie Mahar, a science and biology teacher for grades 11-12 at Rutland High School; and Finalist Stephen Rand, an English teacher at Harwood Union Middle and High School for grades 9-12.

Selection Process

Beginning with the selection of Vermont's 2018 TOY, the Agency of Education has partnered with the University of Vermont for the Vermont Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year process.

Educators recognized at the prior year's UVM Outstanding Teacher Day (OTD 2017), will be invited to apply for the Vermont TOY Award. Interested candidates must submit an application for consideration to the Vermont Agency of Education by June 30, 2018. A volunteer committee comprised of previous Vermont Teachers of the Year will assess the applications, interview candidates and recommend the top three finalists to the Agency of Education.

The finalists will present a brief speech to the Vermont State Board of Education in August 2018. The Agency of Education will make the final determination for the Vermont Teacher of the Year and the runner-up. The new process hopes not only to recruit more candidates but to recruit candidates that were already recognized as outstanding teachers by peers, administrators, parents and/or students as part of the UVM Outstanding Teacher Day for exemplifying across the Vermont Core Teaching Standards.

The recipient of the Vermont Teacher of the Year Award will become Vermont’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The VT TOY will travel to Washington, D.C. in the spring for a reception at the White House.

For nearly 40 years, the University of Vermont has annually recognized outstanding teachers throughout the state through a ceremonial event that takes place in October. Each participating supervisory union or school district can nominate one teacher at the elementary/middle school level, one teacher at the secondary level and one technical center teacher.

Although the teacher will continue to teach full time during this year, she/he is available for speaking engagements and content consultations in her/his area of expertise when possible. The Vermont program is sponsored by the Agency of Education. The Vermont Teacher of the Year also becomes a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. For more than 40 years our nation has honored teachers with the National Teacher of the Year Program. The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and receives several sponsors.

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Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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