Evergreen Magazine

Ray Named State Teacher of the Year

Mark Ray ’87, a teacher librarian at Skyview High School in Vancouver, was named Washington’s 2012 Teacher of the Year at an awards  ceremony October 3 at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. Ray was chosen from nine regional finalists. Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies and Saxton Bradley, Inc. each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for Ray and the Regional Teachers of the Year. 

Mark RayNearly 20 years into his career as a teacher librarian, he’s spent most of them in the same district where his father taught and his mother served lunch. Parents and colleagues describe Ray as "transformational" and credit his vision and enthusiasm for the success of projects as varied as redesigning classroom assessment to igniting an enthusiasm for research in the student body. In addition to his work in the library and classrooms, Ray also coaches tennis at Skyview, where his nationally recognized “no cut” program welcomes students of all abilities. 

“Every year, I can’t wait to see what new techniques he has come up with to help kids understand research,” said colleague Brenda McKinney. “From puppets to amazing Powerpoint skills, from in depth knowledge to saying it exactly how it is, Mark uses the stage of his media center to let kids know that research is accessible.” 

Ray believes passionately that teachers must begin stepping into more leadership roles and embrace the risk of trying something new if they are to meet the educational imperative of educating a new type of student and create a truly 21st century school system. His essay “Save the children by fighting ‘truthiness,’” about the importance of teaching students the skills to navigate research in the 21st century, was published by The Seattle Times on October 21. 

Ray will now be considered for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. President Obama will announce the winner in a special ceremony at the White House in the spring.  

“Mark and the 2012 Teachers of the Year represent our very best,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “They are highly skilled and they have high standards for their kids, but they also know that relationships count and that great teaching happens one kid at a time.”  

Other Honors for Evergreen Teachers close up of shiny red apple
Amada Lang ’94, MiT ’05, an art teacher at Horizons Elementary School in Lacey, was named Washington state’s Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the Washington State Art Education Association. In her seventh year of teaching, Lang is known for her enthusiasm and creativity and connecting with students of different ages through a variety of art forms that link to other classroom curriculum. “Amada is dedicated to her students and her craft as a teacher,” Horizons principal Tim Fries told The Olympian. “She is constantly and actively learning and trying to grow stronger as a teacher.”

KCTS Channel 9 recognized the Lincoln Center at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School with one of the statewide 20th Annual Golden Apple Awards. The Center is one of two programs honored for making a positive difference in Washington state education in grades pre-K-12. Nathan Gibbs Bowling MiT ’06, Travis Davio MiT ’06, and Hannah Pratt, MiT ’07 all teach in Lincoln Center, an extended-day program where students, families, community and staff dedicate themselves to closing the achievement gap for their racially diverse, low-income student population.