Ferris High School’s Mandy Manning has been named National Teacher of the Year.
She teaches English and math to refugee and immigrant students.
“It’s shocking and surprising and humbling but it’s also this tremendous privilege because I really do have the opportunity to share my amazing students’ stories and help people see them for the wonderful human beings that they are,” she said Friday.
Manning learned in January that she would be one of four finalists. The announcement of the top award was broadcast Friday morning on “CBS This Morning.” Manning appeared for an interview on the set of the New York City-based show and she was expected to return to Spokane in a week. On April 30, she and the 55 other state and territory teachers of the year will fly to Washington D.C., where they likely will meet President Donald Trump.
Manning is looking forward to meeting the president, she said.
“We fear that which we don’t understand so this is an opportunity to help people experience things that are outside of their understanding and help change their perceptions,” she said.
Manning has spent the past school year touring Washington state speaking at schools. Manning was named Washington state teacher of the year in September.
Manning was instrumental in helping several refugee students, some who fled war-torn countries, learn English and receive an education. She’s also learning sign language to help two deaf Syrian students learn a language for the first time.
Manning said in January that she was looking forward to attending the ceremony in the nation’s capital.
“Of course I welcome the opportunity to share my students’ stories,” she said. “That is incredible.”
Ferris Principal Ken Schutz said about 50 immigrant and refugee students whom Manning had taught gathered Friday morning to watch the announcement on CBS.
“Their reaction was just so powerful and happy,” he said.
Schutz said Manning’s success, motivation and passion is mirrored in other Ferris High School teachers.
“Mandy will carry the torch of the great things that are happening in public education,” he said. “Sometimes I think public education gets a bad rap.”
As the winner, Manning will embark on a yearlong advocacy role to represent the best of the profession. She said she will use her new platform to urge educators to get out of their comfort zones and spread a message of unity, urging Trump to be a president for everyone in the United States.
“I would encourage him to go out into neighborhoods and into places where he hasn’t gone before, to try to experience their lives … to continue our legacy of welcoming and being open and inviting of all peoples,” Manning said.
The National Teacher of the Year is selected by a committee comprised of 14 education organizations, such as the National Education Association, the National School Board Association, and others.
“Mandy dedicates herself to each and every one of her students,” said Chris Reykdal, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a news release. “She’s a proven leader in our state, and is the second National Teacher of the Year from Washington in the past six years. Our state is known for fostering and supporting exemplary teachers, which Mandy is a shining example of every day. We are honored to have Mandy representing us to the nation.”
Manning said seeing ongoing teacher strikes and protests nationwide has encouraged her. She hopes she can support and advocate for students in her new role.
“I think we’re in a time of empowerment we’re seeing people use their collective voice for positive change,” she said. “The fact that our educators are rising up for their students is really, really incredible.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.