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District Teacher of the Year

Each year, teachers from across Rhode Island represent their individual LEAs as District Teachers of the Year.

Each District Teacher of the Year (DTOY) has the opportunity to take part in WaterFire: A Salute to Rhode Island Educators, to participate in leadership professional development, to collaborate with DTOYs from across the state, and to apply to represent all Rhode Island educators as the 2016 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. 


Deadline Thursday, May 31, 2018

2018-19 District Teacher of the Year Profile Sheet [PDF, 245 KB]

If you have any questions regarding the District Teacher of the Year program, please contact Mary Keenan, at mary.keenan@ride.ri.gov or 401-222-8497.

History of the Award

The Teacher of the Year Award Program was initiated in 1952 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to bring recognition to the importance of teachers as nurturers of the "American Dream." His intention to honor all teachers by the selection of a representative teacher from each state would find completion in the yearly choice of a National Teacher of the Year. Through an organized and varied selection process involving classroom teachers, school administrators, state officials, students, parents, and business representatives, each state and U. S. Protectorate nominates its own Teacher of the Year.

District Teachers of the Year Blog

Stay tuned for regular posts from our District Teachers of the Year.

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 12/4/2015 | [PRC_COMMENTCOUNT] Comments

Kayla Emery, Cumberland Teacher of the Year
Grade 8 Math / Algebra 1
North Cumberland Middle School
7 years' experience in education

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” As Dr. Seuss sums up in his famous quote, thinking is something we, as educators, strive to help our students with each and every day! My goal for this year was to help my students learn new ways to “think”, which they can use to help them through any problem in or outside of the classroom. The driving force behind this goal was our district's implementation of Thinking Maps this year. We are working towards 50 hours of PD focusing on Thinking Maps, with our trainer, Heidi Henderson (heidi@thebalancebetween.com), since research shows that is the amount of PD that is required to change our practice!

Since many of you are likely unfamiliar with Thinking Maps, I will give you a brief overview of what they are before explaining the impact they have had on teaching and learning in my classroom this year. Thinking Maps are used to help students organize and express their thoughts. They are a visual language for thinking. There are eight visual maps, linked with specific cognitive vocabulary, that are intended to correspond with eight different fundamental thinking processes. Thinking Maps teach students to become independent thinkers rather than being told what/how to think. Ultimately, we are working towards students being able to identify multiple maps that they would use to answer a complex question that requires several types of thinking, since this is what Common Core is asking us to do!

So how does this impact a middle school math classroom? Since I started using Thinking Maps in my classroom, I see a dramatic change in how students organize and share their thinking. They are able to compare and contrast math concepts with ease and can explain math processes in detail. Students are gaining a deeper understanding of math concepts by thinking more independently and are starting to answer multi-part questions successfully!

I have attached a photo of one of the maps so you can see the higher-level thinking that has been happening in my classroom recently. In this example, students are being asked to complete the equivalent relationships between square roots, cube roots, and whole numbers. They would use the given information to find patterns that would help them solve for the unknown numbers to fill in the blank spaces.

We are barely at the end of trimester 1 right now, but I can’t wait to see what kind of thinking my students are going to be able to do by the end of the year! If you are interested in learning more about Thinking Maps, click here!


An Educated Citizenry - Teaching Students to Navigate Media Bias

Kim Rawson, 2016 North Smithfield District Teacher of the Year,
2016 Finalist for Rhode Island Teacher of the Year,
North Smithfield High School

An educator’s greatest responsibility is to prepare students to be critical thinkers and productive members of society who can investigate, interpret, and identify bias.

As a ninth-grade American government teacher, every day offers an opportunity to truly show the students real world connections. Election years offer even more excitement, as students engage in the electoral process. Last year’s polarizing election posed many teachable moments that transcended the classroom. Students researched the presidential candidate of their choice, created a campaign and engaged in debates about the qualifications and policies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Throughout the process, we constantly discussed the importance of being an active, engaged and informed citizen. The informed part always proves difficult and last year, in particular, students struggled to truly assess the candidates. They were constantly confronting the impact of social media and the 24-hour news cycle that looks to entertain rather than inform. The election itself proved easier to navigate than the actual ascension of President Donald Trump. ...

November 22, 2017

Finding Common Ground in a Divided Society

Kristin Hayes-Leite, 2018 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year,
Social Studies Teacher,
Narragansett High School

The fact that the nation is divided is no secret to anyone, but what we don’t yet know is the full impact on our students. With all of the heated rhetoric and political bullying taking place at the national level, the youngest members of our society might be tempted to tune it all out, become cynical, disengage, or worse, lose faith in our democracy. As a social studies teacher, I feel a real urgency to ensure that students can exercise their freedom of speech in my classroom. Students need to be able to respectfully voice their opinions and discuss current issues in the classroom without feeling fear or reluctance. ...

October 27, 2017

Increasing Engagement through Student Choice

October 19, 2016