BEND, Ore. - At a surprise assembly Monday morning, Heather Anderson, a fourth-grade teacher from Bend's Juniper Elementary School was named Oregon's 2016 Teacher of the Year.
Oregon Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor was joined by Bend-La Pine Superintendent Shay Mikalson in honoring Heather for her leadership, high expectations and commitment to Oregon's students. She told the cheering audience of students, staff and district officials that she was honored to accept the award.
"Heather is an outstanding example of excellence in the profession," Noor said. "Not only does she set high expectations for her students and herself, she is deeply committed to helping other educators learn and grow. Tenacious, dedicated, and a life-long learner, Heather is a true asset to her school and our state. It is an honor to recognize her as Oregon's 2016 Teacher of the Year."
Students like Kiawana Denny were thrilled for their teacher's good fortune.
"I think Miss Anderson deserves to win because she doesn't just do great things for her students, she does really great things for people around the world," Denny said. "And she helps people and she doesn't just say, 'Go do this' and 'Go do that.' She gives you a chance, and she's not really mean at all."
A native Oregonian who comes from a family of educators, Heather began as a student teacher in Guadalajara, Mexico where she taught fifth grade and learned fluent Spanish.
Before returning to teach in Bend, she spent five years at a struggling, high-poverty elementary school in Maryland, where she worked with others to close achievement gaps and improve student outcomes.
These early, formative experiences helped to shape Heather into an educator who firmly believes that all students – regardless of income, race, or language – can and will succeed if given the supports to do so.
Heather works tirelessly to support not only her students but also her fellow educators as a skilled teacher leader and advocate for the profession. She became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2005 and has served as a coach and teacher leader for her colleagues.
Thanks to the hard work of Heather and her fellow teachers, Juniper Elementary was recognized by the state as a Model School, meaning it is in the top 5 percent of high-poverty schools statewide, in terms of student achievement and student learning.
Heather seamlessly integrates the latest technology into her lessons to support student learning and builds a positive environment in her classroom that fosters student confidence, exploration, and risk-taking.
"I believe much of the success I have experienced in my career can be linked to two things: the high quality professional learning I participated in as a beginning teacher and the collaborative work I have done in Bend La-Pine Schools, both at the school level and at the district level," Heather wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. "My greatest accomplishment in education is empowering children to become thriving lifelong learners."
As Oregon Teacher of the Year, Heather will serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers and will attend the Washington Recognition Week for Teachers of the Year in Washington, D.C. in April, where she will meet President Obama and the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Heather will also receive a $5,000 cash award and will be featured in a commercial produced by the Oregon Lottery, which is partnering with the Department to support the Oregon Teacher of the Year program.
NewsChannel 21's Alex Biston was at the surprise announcement and will have a full report on Fox @ 4 and KTVZ at 5 and 6.