Tacoma Educator Named Teacher of the Year

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Randy I. Dorn

Tacoma Educator Named Teacher of the Year

AP social studies teacher is transforming lives at Lincoln High School

Seattle – September 21, 2015 – Nathan Gibbs-Bowling was named Washington’s 2016 Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony this afternoon.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn congratulated the nine Regional Teachers of the Year and announced the State Teacher of the Year at EMP Museum. The event was hosted by EMP and the Charles Beresford Company.

Superintendent Dorn praised the group saying, “Nathan and the 2016 Teachers of the Year are great examples of the deep caring educators have for their students and communities. This is not just a job for them. It is a calling. They put everything they have into helping their students learn because they know student success affects the whole community.” Dorn continued, “They all have great big hearts, and although they are definitely experts in their subjects, they also realize at the end of the day, they don’t teach math or English or social studies. They teach kids.”

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies, and Saxton Bradley, Inc. each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements for both Nathan and the Regional Teachers of the Year.

Nathan is starting his 10th year of teaching in Tacoma. He currently teaches AP Government and Human Geography at Lincoln High where colleagues describe him as a cultivator of student minds. Nathan became a teacher because of his belief that education is perhaps the greatest transformational force for both individuals and communities. He strives as a teacher to make the impossible become possible for his students. Nathan’s students are actively engaged in the democratic process through action and critical thinking and pass the AP exam at a rate 3 times the district average. Two years ago he started the first freshman AP course in the district.

As a colleague, Nathan challenges teachers to take up the mantel of leadership and embrace the opportunity to create real change that their profession affords. He reminds us that research shows students do best when great teachers are clustered together and is a strong advocated for high-quality, collaborative professional development. He insists that teachers, systems, and communities must create solutions that put students’ needs above all else and is not shy about sharing these beliefs and convictions with statewide leaders.

Visitors to Nathan’s classroom emerge awestruck by his knack for providing strong leadership and direction while letting the students do the majority of the talking. Much of his success can be attributed to his skill at relationship building which has its roots in his deep commitment to the community where he grew up and now teaches. He is a mentor for the College Success Foundation, his church adopted a school without a PTSA, and he’s even a star announcer at athletic events. Nathan is so committed to his students that they have trouble shaking him even after graduation. He recently helped organize a fall alumni support tour where a group of teachers traveled to see former Lincoln students who are now at college.

“Even if I aced the test, he always saw room where I could do better,” says former student Trang Tran. “He continuously pushed me to my limits, never allowing me to settle with what was good. He wanted great. This made me driven and determined to strive for greatness beyond what I even expected of myself. I worked harder, applied to schools that I never even dreamed of, and got more involved. I wanted to make him proud of me.”

Regional winners
Before announcing the State Teacher of the Year, Superintendent Dorn introduced the regional finalists. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession provide professional development for all nine finalists. The Regional Teachers of the Year included:

  • Alecia McAdams-Sing
    Educational Service District 101
    Nine Mile Falls School District|Lakeside High School

  • Joyce Stark
    Educational Service District 105
    Sunnyside School District|Sunnyside High School

  • Bethany Rivard
    Educational Service District 112
    Vancouver School District|Fort Vancouver High School

  • Maegan Skoubo
    Educational Service District 113
    Raymond School District|Raymond Junior Senior High School

  • Theresa Holland-Schmid
    Educational Service District 114
    North Kitsap School District|Kingston High School

  • Omar Escalera
    Educational Service District 123
    Pasco School District|McLoughlin Middle School

  • Ashley Leneway
    North Central Educational Service District 171
    Lake Chelan School District|Morgan Owings Elementary School

  • Michael Werner
    Northwest Educational Service District 189
    Granite Falls School District|Granite Falls High School School

Next steps
The 2016 State Teacher of the Year will 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.

As the Washington Teacher of the Year, Nathan will serve as an ambassador for the teaching profession in 2015–16 while maintaining his duties at Lincoln High School.

The selection committee includes previous state teachers of the year and representatives from the following organizations: the Washington Education Association, Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council, Washington State Parent Teacher Association, Washington Association of School Administrators and the Association of Washington School Principals.

Photos of each of this year’s finalists are posted on the OSPI education awards page: http://www.k12.wa.us/EducationAwards/.


Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager

Kristen Jaudon
OSPI Communications Specialist

About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state's 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.

Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at 360-725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.