Matt Rutledge, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at Mosier Community School, was named 2019 Regional Teacher of the Year for the North Central region, receiving a $500 cash prize and a candidacy for Oregon’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. That honor is awarded with $5,000 to one of the 13 Regional Teachers of the Year in September, along with a $5,000 match to the teacher’s school.
“I feel honored and excited—it was a little bit surprising, the part what was surprising is that I know many educators here in Mosier and in the educational community that I feel are equally deserving.”
Rutledge started his teaching career six years ago as a substitute teacher at Mosier Community and several other schools, before joining the full-time Mosier teaching staff five years ago. He now teaches a blended fourth and fifth grade class.
He found out he had been nominated to apply for the award a long time ago, he said, as he had to go through the lengthy process of gathering documentation, answering writing prompts and collecting letters of recommendation to finish his application. But he didn’t know he had won until he walked into the school building May 9 after finishing morning bus duty and joined the rest of the school faculty in the library “for what was supposed to be an impromptu meeting, I had no idea what the topic was,” he said. From there, Rutledge thanked a few parents who had written him letters of recommendation for the award, and word on his win spread from there.
“We are so proud of Matt's accomplishment as Oregon's regional teacher of the year! Matt exceeds in every aspect of his role at as fourth/fifth grade teacher at the Mosier Community School,” said Mosier Community School Executive Director Kieran Connolly in a written statement. “Matt is an innovative instructor, a wise and compassionate colleague, and deeply skilled at building relationships with students and families alike. We are exceedingly fortunate to have such a committed and insightful teacher at our school.”
The selection process was facilitated by regional Educational Service Districts and the applicants were judged on “leadership, instructional expertise, community involvement, understanding of educational issues, professional development and vision by a diverse panel of regional representatives,” the program stated on its website.
Rutledge wants to recognize his fellow teachers, including those who mentored and supported him throughout his teaching career. “I’m definitely aware that there are lots of well qualified and supportive teachers doing the best they can with limited resources,” he said.
The Oregon Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education in partnership with the Oregon Lottery.
Though the program has been around since 1955, this is the first year it has recognized educators in individual regions statewide.
“It’s inspiring to see the great work of Oregon teachers every day,” said Colt Gill, Oregon Interim Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a written statement.
“I’m pleased we are able to expand this program to recognize dedicated educators across the state, and to raise awareness of best practices. These teachers, their schools and districts should be very proud of the innovation and collaboration that helps deliver students a well-rounded education.”
Should Rutledge be named Oregon’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, he will serve as a representative of the profession throughout the state and be asked to present at education workshops, conferences and student and government groups, as well as participate in special programs and professional development at local, state and national levels.
“The Oregon Teacher of the Year Program recognizes and honors teacher excellence, with the Teacher of the Year serving as the face and voice of exemplary educators across the state,” the program states on its website, “publicly recognizing outstanding teachers encourages students to think about teaching as a career and provides the community a sense of pride and investment in their teachers who are making a positive impact on student’s lives every day.”
For more information on the Oregon Teacher of the Year program, visit http://oregonteacheroftheyear.org/.