Bozeman teacher and MEA-MFT member Paul Andersen has been selected as one of four finalists in the National Teacher of the Year Program – the highest honor a U.S. teacher can achieve.
Andersen, who teaches Advanced Placement Biology and Physical Science at Bozeman High School, is the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year.
According to the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, which administers the Montana Teacher of the Year program, Andersen was selected as a national finalist by a panel of educators representing the 14 largest national education organizations. The panel chose finalists from the 2011 teachers of the year from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense schools, and four U.S. extra-state jurisdictions.
The other four finalists in this year’s event are teachers from Florida, Illinois, and Maryland.
Finalists will be interviewed March 7-8. President Barack Obama will announce the National Teacher of the Year at a White House ceremony in early May.
The National Teacher of the Year Program is coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states.
“This is an incredible honor both for Paul and Montana,” said Eric Feaver, chair of the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation. “Montana has some of the best teachers in the nation. Paul is one of them. We are tremendously excited for Paul. He is a terrific representative of the teaching profession.”
The National Teacher of the Year is the oldest and most prestigious honors program in the nation to focus public attention on excellence in teaching.
The first National Teacher of the Year was named in 1952 by President Harry S Truman, who initiated the program to bring recognition to the importance of teachers as nurturers of the American Dream.
One Montana teacher has been named National Teacher of the Year: Richard Nelson of Kalispell in 1956. Two Montana teachers have been named national honor roll winners (one of top 10 finalists): Daniel Radakovich of Glasgow in 1963 and Madalen Sauber of Anaconda in 1964.
The Montana Teacher of the Year program annually recognizes a teacher who exemplifies the best in the teaching profession. An interview committee composed of 2010 Montana Teacher of the Year Anne Keith, other educators, a parent, a high school student, Montana Board of Public Education Chair Patty Myers, and business sponsor Tim Warner of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana chose Paul Andersen from among three finalists September 11.
Andersen, a 16-year teacher, was selected for his extraordinary teaching talent, his skill in connecting with students of all learning abilities, and his leadership in bringing technology to improve teaching and learning throughout the Bozeman schools.
In a joint letter of support for Andersen’s nomination as Montana Teacher of the Year, Bozeman Superintendent Kirk Miller wrote, “Paul is a visionary in the same class as Steve Jobs and Ted Sizer.” Plus, he said, Andersen has the passion to help students, teachers, and administrators “move toward their personal visions of excellence.”