Chris Gleason, music teacher at Patrick Marsh Middle School and Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, didn’t make the final cut for the National Teacher of the Year Award – but that won’t stop him from continuing to advocate for education.
Gleason was a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year award, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), after being named Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in September. The program recognizes exceptional teachers and gives them the opportunity to participate in educational policy discussions at both the state and national level, according to a press release by CCSSO.
This year’s awardee of the national honor, Sydney Chaffee, has taught humanities at Codman Academy Charter Public School for 10 years, according to the release. She teaches students the intersection of history and literature to empower those students to create change in the world.
Chaffee is believed to be the first charter school teacher to receive the award. As the National Teacher of the Year, Chaffee will spend a year traveling the nation to advocate to lawmakers on behalf of teachers.
One of four national finalists, Gleason said going through the process has given him the opportunity to be an advocate for teachers and education on the national stage.
He’s been spending this week in Washington D.C., speaking with legislators and the president to talk about education and current issues.
Gleason also said the experience has been invaluable in the connections he has made with other top-notch educators.
“The entire experience has been an amazingly gratifying in that just having the opportunity to meet with these other educators across the country is just so special,” he said. “Our goals are all the same – we want to help elevate this profession and let the public know that there’s a lot of great work that’s happening in public schools every day.”
During the finalist interview for the national award, Gleason said he had one goal: to represent Sun Prairie and Wisconsin.
“It went well,” he reflected. “It didn’t turn out quite how I had hoped, but I know Sydney well – and she is fantastic – so I have no regrets.”
Gleason added he’s grateful for the support of the community, and especially that of his wife, who he says lets him work constantly.
Gleason will travel to workshops and clinics throughout the summer to continue his advocacy work, including a trip to an educational clinic in San Diego. He said his advocacy absolutely will continue past the Teacher of the Year process.
“I feel like I’ve been given this opportunity to speak on behalf of educators specifically,” he said. “My reign goes until 2018 and so I’m going to use every second I can to get out there.”