Robert Hand, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Mount Vernon High School, was selected as the 2019 Washington state Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made today by Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction, at a ceremony held at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle.
“Each year we celebrate excellent teaching through the Teacher of the Year program,” Reykdal said. “These professionals are dedicated, hardworking, and passionate about the success and wellbeing of their students. Mr. Hand is an exceptional example of what great teaching means in Washington state.”
Hand has been teaching at Mount Vernon since 2013. He has taught Beginning Foods; Life After High School; and Careers in Education, Nutrition, and Leadership. He has also been an adviser for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America and for the Social Justice Club.
A former student said Hand’s personal interest makes him a special teacher. The student noted that she lived in a low-income home, that English wasn’t her first language, and that she was undocumented. In addition, she said, “I got pregnant at 16. Any other teacher would have given up on me, but Mr. Hand loves to get to know all his students to try to facilitate and nourish their learning experience.
“Mr. Hand got to know my struggles and did what a lot of other teachers didn’t: He actually acknowledged them. After this, he didn’t lower his expectations of me because he knew I was as capable as any other student who had the privileges I didn’t. With Mr. Hand’s support, throughout high school I got to discover my true potential. When I enrolled in Skagit Valley College, I kept that, ‘I can do anything’ mindset that Mr. Hand taught me. I am about to transfer onto a 4-year university and pursue a career as an educator. None of this could have been possible without Mr. Hand always being by my side – no matter what.”
Reykdal was impressed by the balance Hand maintains. “Robert cares about his students as individuals,” Reykdal said. “He also makes sure his teaching goes beyond the classroom and relates to the community. As just one example, he led his class to display the flags and colors of 11 of the countries from which students at Mount Vernon High School come.”
Reykdal noted that the relationship to community is reflected in all of the Regional Teachers of the Year. “From engaging civic relationships, studying tribal watershed lands, and to starting an ethnic-studies curriculum, all of the teachers recognize that their work has value when students can relate it to their everyday lives.”
Hand also cares about building and strengthening the teaching profession. He was instrumental in helping to develop an online curriculum for the Recruiting Washington Teachers program for the Professional Educator Standards Board.
As the state Teacher of the Year, Robert Hand will be considered for National Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The winner will be announced in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.
More about Washington’s Teacher of the Year Program
The selection committee includes previous teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations: the Professional Educator Standards Board, Washington Education Association, Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council, Black Education Strategy Roundtable, Washington State Parent Teacher Association, Ready Washington Coalition, and the Association of Washington School Principals.
Teacher of the Year is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious teacher award program. It is a project of CCSSO and is presented by VOYA Financial. Washington’s program is supported by educational service districts, school districts, education organizations, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our business and nonprofit partners:
- Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession
- The Charles Beresford Company
- PEMCO Insurance
- Inspirus Credit Union