Granite Falls Teacher, Andrea Peterson:
2007 National Teacher of the Year
10/29/07 - Life is busy for
the nation's top teacher ...
On being a new mom and traveling: "One day you are in Washington, D.C., getting picked up by a limousine and being treated like royalty practically and then you are sitting in your house with your daughter who just spit up on your shoulder. I treasure every second that I have with
her ..." The
Herald interviewed Mrs. Peterson. ->
10/24/07 - On the road for
"Highlights of the past year? Well, the Rose Garden introduction by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush in April has to rank near the
top ..." The
Seattle Times shared stories from Mrs. Peterson's
travels so far. ->
4/26/07 - President and Mrs. Bush
honor Mrs. Peterson! Read the text of their
speeches and watch the video on the White House's official website ... or
click here to listen to the audio file
(mp3 - 8 MB).
WSSDA Release: Granite Falls music educator named National Teacher of the Year
Andrea Peterson, an elementary music specialist in the Granite Falls School District, has been named the 2007 National Teacher of the Year. She
was recognized by President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony April
Named Washington state's Teacher of the Year in October 2006, Peterson learned she was one of four finalists for the national honor in January 2007. She is only the second music teacher to win the national title in the 57-year history of the award.
Peterson, who has spent all 10 years of her teaching career at Granite Falls, currently teaches vocal and instrumental music at Monte Cristo Elementary.
When she entered the district, Peterson gained the support of administrators, students, parents and community members to establish a dynamic music education program. In collaboration with her principal, she created a successful five-year plan to improve music learning for the district’s K-12 students.
An advocate of cross-curricular learning, Peterson tailors her lessons to integrate subject matter from other disciplines. Under her guidance, students use music -- sometimes composing and performing entire musicals -- to enhance their understanding of material they learn outside of the music classroom.
"The children of our district have benefited from Andrea’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching," said Siobhan Sullivan, president of the Granite Falls School Board. "She realizes the importance of the arts in all of our lives and fosters a love of music in her students. Andrea collaborates well with other teachers at Monte Cristo Elementary and has composed several original pieces that have been incorporated into student productions. She has worked hard to build a strong music program in our district."
“We are also proud that Andrea and several other teachers in our district have successfully completed the National Board Certification process,” added Sullivan. Peterson was the first National Board Certified Teacher in early- and middle-childhood music in Washington state, and has since been involved in recruiting and mentoring new certification candidates.
As Teacher of the Year, Peterson will serve as an ambassador for education and a representative of the teaching profession. Through the next year, she will travel across the nation to visit schools, deliver speeches and serve on committees.
This was the fourth year in a row that Washington's Teacher of the Year has been named a finalist for the national honor. Two other Washington teachers have won the national title: Elmon Ousley of Bellevue School District in 1963, and Johnnie T. Dennis of Walla Walla School District in 1970.
OSPI Press Release:
Washington, D.C., April 25, 2007 – Washington state’s Teacher of the Year, Andrea Peterson, will be named 2007 National Teacher of the Year by President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony April
Peterson, an elementary music teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in the Granite Falls School District, was named this fall as Washington state’s Teacher of the Year for 2007. She was among four finalists for the national title. The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation, is a project of the
of Chief State School Officers. Read
their Press Release here ->
Peterson, a National Board Certified educator, has taught at Monte Cristo for all of her 10 years in the teaching profession, the last eight years full time. She was a keynote speaker at OSPI’s 2007 January Conference in Seattle.
“I’m thrilled that one of our great Washington teachers has won this prestigious national honor,” said Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson, who will attend the White House ceremony. “It’s particularly exciting that the recipient is a music teacher. Andrea will bring a new focus to the critical importance of the arts in education. Andrea offers a perfect example of how the arts can be an integral part of learning.
“She has championed a cross-curricular approach to education,” Bergeson said. “Even as a music specialist, she incorporates other subjects into her classroom to help students both learn music and learn about music in a much larger context.”
This was the fourth year in a row that the Washington State Teacher of the Year has been among the finalists for the national title.
Peterson was born in Invermere, British Columbia, Canada, on Aug. 20, 1973. She lived there until she was eight years old, when her father, a teacher at the time, decided he wanted to enter the ministry, and the family relocated to San Diego, CA, for his training. After her father accepted a ministerial position in Colorado, the family remained there until the summer before her senior year, when they moved to Washington state to be closer to aging relatives. She graduated in 1991 from Onalaska High School.
Peterson became a permanent resident of the United States upon her arrival in the country in 1981. She gained citizenship in 2004, saying her greatest motivation in doing so was to be a political advocate for education, one who could vote for ballot measures, such as school district finance levies, that she supported and promoted.
Peterson received bachelor’s degrees in music education and arts music from the University of Washington in 1996, graduating cum laude. She was the first National Board Certified Teacher in early and middle childhood music in the state of Washington. After receiving her certification, she became a NBCT facilitator and liaison coordinator for Washington, encouraging other educators to advocate policy changes in education. She is also actively involved with the Northwest Wind Symphony, which is composed of professional educators, musicians, and community leaders in the greater Washington and Oregon area.
“Our state consistently sending finalists for National Teacher of the year -- and now Andrea’s being named to this national honor -- confirms the high quality of teachers Washington’s children are so fortunate to have,” Bergeson said. “Andrea has set a wonderful example for her fellow educators in Washington state and will now do the same for her colleagues across the country.”
Peterson said last week that it was “finally beginning to dawn on me that I was going to be talking to the president of the United States. Not many people get to do that.”
“I’ve also begun to think about what a great opportunity it will be to stand in front of all these remarkable people,” she said, referring to the other National Teacher of the Year winners from the 49 other states, five territories and the Department of Defense with whom she competed for the national honor.
“I look at some of these people and their educational accomplishments and wonder ‘Why aren’t they doing this?’ As National Teacher of the Year, I want to represent these educators in a way that does them justice.”
In her new role, Peterson will spend the next year traveling all over the country, giving speeches, visiting schools and serving on advisory committees, sharing her experiences and insights. Among other things, she will address annual meetings of the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association.
It’s bittersweet for Peterson that the honor will mean a year away from her classroom. “I love my school and I love all my students.”
Having won this national platform for the next year, Peterson says she will emphasize the importance of community involvement in education.
“It’s not just the teachers who are responsible for educating kids,” Peterson said. “Yes, it’s our job, but in a fast-paced, technology-driven world, kids need information at a rate we alone aren’t prepared to give them. We have to start looking at education as a real community effort. Everyone in the community has to step up and say ‘I have to take an individual interest in these kids.’”
Peterson said that the success she’s had in her school has had “a lot to do with other people, in school administration and in the community, making an effort to take interest in these kids’ lives, from a mentoring program to a parent group, to providing resources I couldn’t come up with myself.”
She said she will also focus on relationships and role models. “Rigor is important, as is relevance, but relationships are key. Kids will achieve for a teacher they respect and who takes a role in their lives. Little things can motivate kids to want to come to school and can eventually translate into achievement. You can’t teach them until you really know who they are,” Peterson said.
Since the Washington State Teacher of the Year (TOY) was established in 1963, it has annually honored one outstanding teacher to represent the state. Elmon Ousley, Bellevue School District, won the national title in 1963, as did Johnnie T. Dennis, Walla Walla School District, in 1970.
The Washington State TOY selection process begins at the school district level where school administrators, students, parents and teachers are invited to nominate an outstanding educator for this award. Nominees’ applications are forwarded to the nine educational service districts. Each ESD selects one educator from the applications received from their respective school districts and forwards that application to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The final selection process is determined when a state selection committee reviews written materials and conducts oral interviews with the nine regional finalists.
The recipient of the Washington State Teacher of the Year award represents our state in the National Teacher of the Year Program and serves as an advocate and spokesperson for our state’s teachers at various functions throughout the year.
In addition to the recognition, the Washington State Teacher of the Year receives $6,000 from PEMCO, and products from various sponsors of the program. The Beresford Company, a long-time sponsor of this program, provides funding for an autumn Teacher of the Year announcement, a spring reception, and contributes to travel costs for the TOY.