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Winooski High School Teacher Named 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year

October 1, 2018

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2018
Contact: Ted Fisher,, (802) 479-1170

BARRE, Vt. – 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. Mr. Payeur will be honored at the 38th Annual Outstanding Teacher Day Celebration at the University of Vermont’s Davis Center. Payeur will begin his tenure as Vermont Teacher of the Year on January 1, 2019.

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.

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.

“Tom is both a leader and an innovator in proficiency-based education at Winooski and one of those teachers who is able to connect with and inspire students on a person to person level,” said Secretary of Education Daniel M. French. “Both qualities are perfect examples of the excellence and quality of #VTed educators. We need teachers like Tom who are stepping up and leading innovation and practice development if we are to build a world class, integrated 21st century education system.”

"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."

Winooski School District Superintendent Sean McMannon said, “’Chill’, ‘snappy dresser’ and ‘wicked smart’ are just a few of the descriptors I have heard from Winooski High School (WHS) students about Tom Payeur. He builds trusting personal and professional relationships with students, always shows a passion and deep understanding of math and works tirelessly to shape our district into an engaging student-centered learning environment where all students feel known, challenged and own their learning.”

WHS Principal, Leon Wheeler added: “There are educators who dare to believe that in their classroom teaching and learning can be relevant, engaging and empowering for each of their students. Tom Payeur has humbly and resiliently immersed himself in achieving this at the school level. Grounded in research and Math best practices, his vision of “what can be” led our math team to fundamentally redesign the math program to become truly student-centered. The skills, knowledge and mindset he demonstrates builds confidence in our students to see themselves as mathematicians and inspires our school community to persist in our transformation.”

As the 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year, Payeur will travel statewide visiting schools and working with teachers. He is also Vermont’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Payeur will represent Vermont in Washington, D.C. next spring for the National Teacher of the Year program. Learn more about the Teacher of the Year selection process on the agency’s Vermont Teacher of the Year webpage.

Since 1964, the Agency of Education has recognized outstanding Vermont teachers. Now in its 38th Year, Outstanding Teacher Day recognizes outstanding teachers throughout the state through a ceremonial event that takes place in October. Each participating supervisory union or school district may nominate one teacher at the elementary/middle school level, one teacher at the secondary level and one technical center teacher.