Last week, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen announced her intent to take control of the Montana Teacher of the Year Program . . . and she invited an unknown number of folks to assist her in doing so.
Some of you may have received her request. I even did.
A number of folks have asked if we agreed to hand the Montana Teacher of the Year Program over to Elsie . . . or what.
No, we did not agree to hand it over. We are proud of the 22-year investment we have made in the program. Working through the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, we took the program from not much more than a news release to a huge celebratory event and professional development opportunities for Montana teachers all across our state. In fact, we first created the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation to sponsor and grow the Montana Teacher of the Year Program.
So, no, we did not agree. But Elsie is empowered to do so if she wishes. She is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers. CCSSO sponsors the National Teacher of the Year Program. For 22 years, the foundation has nominated each of our Montana Teachers of the Year for the national honor. They have all scored well. Any one of them could have been named National Teacher of the Year.
During all this time, CCSSO did nothing to assist us in our administration and promotion of their program in our state. CCSSO was perfectly pleased with our sponsorship and the outstanding candidates we put forward. We designed and delivered a program that Elsie will be hard pressed to duplicate much less exceed. But Elsie has presence and a vote at CCSSO. We do not.
Elections have consequences. This is one of them. Small perhaps, but indicative of how Elsie looks upon her role as our superintendent. She will take the best of what other folks have been doing such as the Montana Teacher of the Year Program and make them her own where she can stand at the front of the room and pretend to be the teacher leader she is not . . . or inexplicably trash them as she did Graduation Matters.
6:00 pm, October 19, Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula, in conjunction with the annual MEA-MFT Educators’ Conference, the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation will present what may well be its last Montana Teacher of the Year Celebration.
At that time, we will feature the current Montana Teacher of the Year Kelly Elder and introduce this year’s three finalists, one of whom will become the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year. A proud time for them. A proud time for the Montana teaching profession. A proud time for us.
Everyone is welcome to come. Even Elsie.
From: Office of Public Instruction [email protected]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2017 3:30 PM
Subject: The Office of Public Instruction Will Lead the Teacher of the Year Selection
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Office of Public Instruction Will Lead the Teacher of the Year Selection
August 24, 2017
HELENA—State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen announced that the Office of Public Instruction will be administering the selection process and program for the Montana Teacher of the Year. For the past 22 years, this program has been conducted by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation and the MEA-MFT.
The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the professional membership organization to which all state superintendents belong. Across the country, 46 states house this important recognition program within the state education agency. The OPI will work directly with CCSSO and our Montana education partners to determine best-practices in order to oversee a program that further recognizes the excellence of teachers and honors local Montana school districts.
“We intend to elevate the position of the Montana Teacher of the Year, give them a direct line to the State Superintendent, and provide this individual with the ability to enhance teacher recruitment and retention in Montana,” Arntzen said Wednesday. “We want to honor the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation and thank them for their work these past 22 years. As a teacher of 23 years, I feel strongly that this important program should be housed at the lead state education agency.”
The CCSSO website states, “The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching.” Teachers selected from each state are able to participate in a year of professional development and learning including attendance at several national conferences.
“We are excited to start developing a rigorous selection process to celebrate teachers in Montana, in particular, starting with the 2019 Montana Teacher of the Year,” Arntzen concluded.
CONTACT: Dylan Klapmeier
Media Assistant, Montana Office of Public Instruction\
To: Partners in Education
From: Superintendent Elsie Arntzen
Subject: Opportunity for Input: MT Teacher of the Year Program
Dear Eric Feaver,
At the Office of Public Instruction, we believe it is essential to recognize and celebrate our great educators. The Montana Teacher of the Year Program is one way in which we do that. We appreciate the work of the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation to organize the selection process since 1996, but strongly believe the celebration and recognition of the Montana Teacher of the Year is a proper and necessary role for the Office of Public Instruction to demonstrate how Montana supports and appreciates all teachers across our state. Therefore, we are planning to transition the program to the Office of Public Instruction next year. To ensure a smooth transition and successful program in the future, we want your input and ideas.
We support the Foundation’s current selection process already underway for the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, which will be submitted to the National Teacher of the Year Program this fall. The OPI will not begin a transition of the program until thoughtful meetings with all stakeholders take place. Our goal throughout this transition is two-fold: To ensure all teachers in Montana have the opportunity to be recognized for their hard work and dedication on behalf of students, and to improve upon the program to ensure the Montana Teachers of the Year and their colleagues receive professional learning opportunities throughout their year of service. To accomplish this, we are seeking input from key stakeholders.
To support the OPI in collecting this feedback into a robust and thoughtful plan for 2019, we are working with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which runs the National Teacher of the Year Program. CCSSO has conducted a series of case studies to determine the essential qualities of a strong State Teacher of the Year Program. (We have attached the full results, for your information.)Through this partnership, CCSSO will conduct a series of impartial interviews with key stakeholders in the Montana education community to understand the successes of the current program, and also identify opportunities and recommendations to grow the program in the years to come.
On September 20-22, CCSSO will visit the OPI offices to conduct these interviews (either in-person or via phone), and we would greatly appreciate your participation for a 1 hour interview. Please complete this form by August 31 to share your availability, and send to Chrissie Tharp at [email protected].
If you have any questions regarding the process, please feel free to reach out to Deputy Superintendent Tim Tharp at any time. He can be reached at [email protected] or 406-444-7325. I personally appreciate your leadership in this process, and look forward to working with you to enhance the Montana Teacher of the Year Program and other ways we can recognize and celebrate the teachers in our state.
Elsie Arntzen – State Superintendent