By Kyla Emme
Two WSU education alumni have been chosen as regional finalists for the 2017 Washington Teacher of the Year Award. Jose Corona, a third grade teacher at Kirkwood Elementary School, completed the WSU teacher prep program in 1995. He was the regional finalist for ESD 105. Kendra Yamamoto, a preschool teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary School and teacher mentor for Vancouver Public Schools, completed her ESL endorsement at WSU Vancouver. She was the ESD 112 regional finalist.
This year, eight regional finalists had been chosen for this award, but only one has received the honorary distinction of “Teacher of the Year.” This honoree will now represent Washington as its nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Award.
All regional finalists have gotten the opportunity to share their teaching stories with legislators and educational leaders. They also have been provided with the opportunity to go around the state and share their expertise with the community and up-and-coming teachers. There are cash awards and other prizes given for their achievements also.
Kendra received a “full-ride” scholarship for her endorsement that stemmed from a grant of WSU Vancouver’s Dr. Gisela Ernst-Slavit. “TEAMS is a 1.3 million funded program by the US DOE,” Ernst-Slavit explained, “it’s designed to prepare practicing teachers and school administrators to work with ELLs in Southwest Washington.”
Since graduating from WSU, Jose has spent his 20 years of teaching at Kirkwood Elementary School. This school was no random choice, though, as he grew up in Toppenish and felt the need to go back.