Indiana is bypassing the annual Teacher of the Year tradition for 2021 by bestowing the honor on all educators in the Hoosier State.
The elite educators up for the award next year will just have to wait until 2022, “due to the extraordinary challenges brought upon by COVID-19,” WBND reports.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought new complexities and challenges to schools with no advance warning,” said State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick. “Teachers across our state have displayed a level of flexibility and commitment, underscoring the fact Hoosiers really are #INthisTogether.”
All of the state’s more than 65,000 teachers will be collectively named the Teacher of the Year for 2021. Katie Pourcho, an elementary school teacher for Danville Community Schools, is serving as the 2020 Teacher of the Year.
Some school districts have already started the process of selecting their nominees for the 2021 contest, which usually starts with building winners and then narrows down to one or two nominees per school district that get submitted to the statewide contest. A committee then selects one winner, traditionally been announced in October, to represent the state in the national contest. McCormick said that districts can still submit those nominees and they’ll be included in the contest for the 2022 award.
Indiana teachers were sent home as schools closed for the coronavirus on March 19 and they’re working from home for the remainder of the current school year. Some districts quickly transitioned to online learning, some didn’t.
The state’s standardized tests were also suspended for 2020, according to the news site.
Beiger Elementary School music teacher Carolyn Hartley told WBND she supports the decision to award Teacher of the Year to all of the state’s educators, who she said are scrambling to help students despite the upheaval caused by the virus.
“Well I think it’s important, I think that during the time we’ve been at home, there’s been a lot of feeling not useful, not feeling as connected and maybe like our kids are missing out a little bit,” Hartley said. “And maybe we’re not reaching everybody. So to be recognized for the hard work that we have been doing during this time, I think is very important.”
The IndyStar has highlighted how teachers throughout the state have stepped up to the challenge with together paper learning packets, live lessons online, drive-by birthday parties for their students and taped lessons broadcast on television stations to reach those without internet access in their homes.