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Kent Educator Named Teacher of the Year
Sports reporter turned teacher uses popular culture to connect with students

SEATTLE — September 27, 2010 — Jay Maebori, a language arts teacher at Kentwood High School in Covington, was named 2011 Washington Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony this afternoon.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn recognized the 10 Regional Teachers of the Year and announced the State Teacher of the Year at the ceremony hosted by Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

“Jay and all the teachers of the year are energizing classrooms and buildings around the state with creative solutions and expert techniques,” Dorn said. “Their ‘can-do’ spirit is exactly what we need to move education forward in Washington. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to call attention to all of these amazing teachers.”

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies and Saxton Bradley Inc., each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for both Maebori and the Regional Teachers of the Year.

Maebori began his professional life as a sports journalist. Since 2001, Maebori has taught language arts to sophomores at Kentwood in the Kent School District. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher.

Maebori teaches in a blended honors classroom where honors, English-language learners, special education and core students all partake of a rigorous and scholarly curriculum that he enriches with seminars and literary circles. He also teaches Kentwood’s intervention courses, which target students who have already failed to meet standard on statewide assessments. Eighty percent of those students who are taught by Maebori go on to meet standard.

Maebori makes his curriculum relevant to his students by tying literary themes to popular films and music. He approaches the work of educating future citizens with reverence and describes the simple practice of listening to students as the key to success in the classroom.

Maebori is also highly collaborative. He believes teachers and parents are allies, and engages the parents of his students through weekly emails. His experience observing successful sports teams as a journalist convinced him that the most effective leaders lead by example, which is a practice he now applies as a teacher.

Assistant Principal Joseph Potts praised Maebori by saying: “He has a track record of success and his level of ‘grit,’ defined here as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is unparalleled in our school … What makes a great teacher? Ask his students or observe Jay Maebori teach; either way, you'll know the answer.”

Regional winners
Before announcing the State Teacher of the Year, Superintendent Dorn introduced the regional finalists, nominated by their respective educational service districts. This year, for the first time, Washington's Tribal Schools also nominated a teacher. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession provide professional development for all ten finalists. The Regional Teachers of the Year included:

Jeffery Wehr
Educational Service District 101
Science Teacher
Odessa School District • Odessa High School

Tracey Schepman
Educational Service District 105
2nd Grade Teacher
Ellensburg School District • Valley View Elementary School

Brian Eggleston
Educational Service District 112
Spanish Teacher
Washougal School District • Washougal High School

Carrie Black
Educational Service District 113
Math and Leadership Teacher
Rochester School District • Rochester Middle School

Melissa McBride
Educational Service District 114
7th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher
Port Angeles School District • Stevens Middle School

John Kerr
Educational Service District 123
Bilingual Science Teacher
Pasco School District • Pasco High School

Ron Scutt
North Central Educational Service District 171
Lead Teacher
Stehekin School

Jo Anne Buiteweg
Northwest Educational Service District 189
Language Arts and Drama Teacher
Everett School District • Sequoia High School

Abigail Chandler
Washington Tribal Schools
Instructional Coach
Chief Leschi School

Next steps
Maebori will be considered for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.

As the Washington Teacher of the Year, Maebori will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in 2010–11 while maintaining his duties at Kentwood High School.

The award was selected by a two former state teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations: the Washington Association of School Administrators; Washington Education Association; Washington State Board of Education; Washington State Parent Teacher Association; the Office of the Governor; the Professional Educator Standards Board; and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Photos of each of this year’s finalists are posted on the OSPI education awards page:


About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

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For More Information

Teacher of the Year program

Regional winner biographies

Educator awards at OSPI


   Updated 9/27/2010

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