The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced Heidi Welch as one of the four finalists for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year on January 17, 2013. This prestigious program allows teachers from across the country to collaborate with policy makers at every level and advocate on behalf of the teaching profession. The other three finalists for National Teacher of the Year are: Jeffrey Charbonneau, a 9–12 grade chemistry, physics and engineering teacher, Zillah High School, Zillah, Washington; Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship, a 10–11 grade English teacher, Rising Sun High School, North East, Maryland; and Alexandre S. Lopes, a pre-K teacher, Carol City Elementary, Miami Gardens, Florida.
“Congratulations to Heidi Welch for this well-deserved recognition of her innovative efforts to enrich the education of Hillsboro-Deering’s students,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Heidi clearly understands that a highly engaging curriculum can enhance the educational process and help New Hampshire’s students learn more effectively. I thank her for her dedication to her students and wish her the best of luck as a National Teacher of the Year Finalist. No matter what, Heidi has already made New Hampshire very proud.”
Heidi Welch has been teaching for sixteen years, the last fourteen at Hillsboro-Deering High School. She possesses boundless commitment to support and guide the successes of her students. She realizes that literacy is the key to being truly free and strives to engage students in this pursuit through music. Literacy through music means that her students study American history in the context of the music of peoples lives and the times, that students read the plays to which they are performing the scores, and that reading is fundamental but literacy means so much more.
“NH is fortunate to have many excellent educators,” said Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D., Commissioner of the NH Department of Education. “The recognition of Heidi Welch as a National Teacher of the Year Finalist is evidence of this. We are all very proud of her achievement of this prestigious honor.”
Ms. Welch states, “I am definitely not the best teacher in NH, and most definitely not in the United States. I see greatness in classrooms every day that go overlooked, but with this finalist position, I hope to be a positive representation of the great teachers that I have studied under and work with, as well as the other incredible teachers here in NH. I am deeply honored to represent my state of NH and look forward to giving my best as a national finalist! My greatest hope is that students understand that you can come from anything, and still make a huge difference in the lives of others and become successful doing a job that you truly love. I am Claremont, I am Manchester, I am Keene, I am most definitely Hillsboro, and I will always be New Hampshire born and bred. I love my State and hope that at the national level I am able to show them exactly what our little state is all about.”
Robert A. Hassett, M.Ed., Superintendent of Hillsboro-Deering, said “Heidi is a truly exceptional person and educator! I recall the first time I met Heidi she was presenting at a DOE conference on the initiatives she and her colleagues had developed and implemented in the high school. She has an energy and enthusiasm that is so contagious that her audience of other school teams were truly moved. Her passion for teaching is an inspiration for her students, colleagues, and families every single day. It is an honor to have Heidi in our district and her recognition as New Hampshire Teacher of the Year and now a National Finalist is truly well-deserved.”
“Heidi is a dynamic teacher that is a great asset to Hillsboro-Deering High School,” said her principal, Jim O’Rourke. “She continually looks for ways to improve student learning and motivation in her classroom. She has strong educational values, high expectations, and demands excellence of every student. Her leadership style and caring nature in working with students and parents is exceptional. I have observed her interactions with many students, parents, teachers, and administrators and she presents herself in a respectful and professional manner. This award is well deserved.”
In New Hampshire, Hannaford Supermarkets is proud to partner with the Department of Education to sponsor the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year program. As a company, Hannaford is committed to enriching the quality of life in the communities they serve. One way to do this is by supporting the Teacher of the Year Program that recognizes the significant contributions made by the many dedicated professionals who choose to make teaching their calling.
“Hannaford is pleased to honor the valued role teachers like Heidi Welch play in our community,” said NH TOY Committee Member and Hannaford Retail Operations Support Specialist, Jean-Marie Beauchemin. “Teachers are mentors, role models, and sometimes the single positive influence in the lives of the kids they teach. Heidi’s excellence in teaching and leadership as a role model are invaluable gifts to her students, her fellow teachers, and the Hillsboro-Deering community. She has worked very diligently to develop a robust Band, Chorus and A Capella Group that includes more than 100 students. She has created a mentorship among the high school and middle school students and partners with her community to raise funds to take her band to Cleveland, Ohio and Orlando, Florida to perform. Heidi Welch is an amazing individual, filled with passion for her work and a love for her students.”
The National Teacher of the Year Program
The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The NTOY Program began in 1952 and is the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing 15 major national education organizations. The President of the United States recognizes the National Teacher each year in a White House ceremony.
Becoming National Teacher of the Year
Every year states each select a state teacher of the year to participate in the National Teacher of the Year Program. At the national level each State Teacher of the Year submits a written application containing biographical and professional information, eight essays on topics ranging from personal teaching philosophy to the issues facing education, and letters of endorsement. The National Selection Committee meets in early December to choose four finalists. The selection Committee then personally interviews each finalist and selects the National Teacher of the Year. In April the National Teacher will be announced by CCSSO.
Duties of the National Teacher
During the official year of recognition, the NTOY is released from classroom duties to travel nationally and internationally as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession. The NTOY may be called upon to represent American educators to audiences in other nations. NTOYs are frequently requested to sit on national and state commissions and policy advising bodies.
More information about the Teacher of the Year Program can be found at www.education.nh.gov/recognition/toy.htm.
To contact Hillsboro-Deering High School please call (603) 464-1130.