For Immediate Release
Contact: Lindsey Hedges, email@example.com
Burlington, Vt.- The Vermont Agency of Education announced today that Aziza Malik, an upper elementary teacher at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington is the 2024 Vermont Teacher of the Year. Ms. Malik will begin her tenure as Teacher of the Year on January 1, 2024.
Also recognized are the 2024 Vermont Teacher of the Year Distinguished Finalists, Courtney Poquette, and Lindsey Cox of Winooski High School.
Aziza Malik has been an upper elementary teacher at Champlain Elementary in Burlington for 14 years. At Champlain, Aziza focuses on fostering authentic relationships between schools and stakeholders, including local government, businesses, non-profits, and community members. These collaborative efforts allow her to interweave student and civic engagement, leadership development, and diverse perspectives into the curriculum.
“I am proud to recognize Aziza Malik as Vermont’s Teacher of the Year,” said Interim Secretary of Education Heather Bouchey. “Aziza's unwavering commitment to place-based education stands as a testament to her innovative teaching approach. Through community engagement her students connect with Vermont’s land and Abenaki history to understand the real-world relevance of their education. Aziza's dedication to fostering this connection between learning and the local community is truly inspiring and sets a remarkable example for educators everywhere."
Ms. Malik’s accomplishments at Champlain have revitalized the school’s community garden space. Ms. Malik began this work as part of the Outdoor Committee. Through community partnerships she was able to secure an intern to help with planning, maintenance, and assistance for teachers using the space. This transformed the space into a collaborative part of the school grounds connecting the cafeteria, classrooms, and community. Thanks to her leadership the internship evolved into a full-time garden educator position. This person works with teachers to connect curriculum to hands on garden activities in the growing months and cooking activities in the winter months. The position piloted at Champlain Elementary, then spread to other schools in the district.
"Aziza is a fantastic teacher who creates opportunities for students that they wouldn't otherwise have access to,” said Joe Resteghini, Principal of Champlain Elementary. “She is the model of an educator who goes above and beyond for her students. We are fortunate to have her at Champlain Elementary and I am incredibly happy to see her work recognized with this well-deserved award."
As Ms. Malik wrote in her application for Vermont Teacher of the Year, “Teaching should draw on all subject areas to foster a sense of community, a community that is inclusive and prospers on the diversity of its members. I want my students to come away not only with a sense of belonging, but also with the sense that they are valuable, contributing members of the community.”
Burlington Superintendent Tom Flanagan said, "In Burlington School District, we have made providing Deeper Learning experiences to students a key part of our education practice. This means giving students the chance to connect their learning to things that interest them outside the classroom. In many ways, Aziza Malik is leading the way on this work. From her partnerships in the community to her work to transform our outdoor spaces, she involves students in meaningful ways and makes a positive, long-lasting impact in their lives and learning, and in the world around us. Students, staff, and our community are better off because of her work, and Burlington School District is lucky to have Ms. Malik on our team. Congratulations Ms. Malik!"
As Vermont’s Teacher of the Year, Ms. Malik will focus on incorporating community into the classroom. She emphasizes the need for collaboration within communities to support common goals, believing that the curriculum should reflect the local community's needs and provide students with opportunities to apply their skills for the community's benefit. To advance this goal, Ms. Malik takes on leadership roles to help other teachers integrate place-based learning, both inside and outside the school, with the goal of fostering strong connections within the school community.
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. As the 2024 Vermont Teacher of the Year, Ms. Malik will serve as an advocate for the teaching profession, education and students. Ms. Malik will represent Vermont next spring for the National Teacher of the Year program, which includes events in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Malik will also be honored at the University of Vermont’s Outstanding Teacher Day, which will be held in November. For 40 years, UVM has annually recognized outstanding teachers throughout the state. The event 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.
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.
Connect with the Vermont Agency of Education education.vermont.gov.