TOPEKA — Tabatha Rosproy, an early childhood educator at Winfield Unified School District 465, is the 2020 National Teacher of the Year (NTOY), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced Thursday, May 21.
Rosproy, whose classroom is housed in Cumbernauld Village retirement community in Winfield, becomes the first early childhood educator to be named National Teacher of the Year. Cumbernauld Little Vikes intergenerational program serves special education and typically developing preschoolers, and offers students daily interactions with residents, who serve as “grandparent” volunteers.
“I am so honored to have been chosen to represent the incredible educators in our nation as National Teacher of the Year, and I’m especially proud to represent Kansas,” Rosproy said. “Kansas is a model for rethinking education, and teachers across the nation are being charged to do just that during these trying times. There is no place that could have better prepared me for this honor.”
Rosproy recently helped lead Kansas in preparing for learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was one of three co-chairs of the Continuous Learning Task Force, which developed guidance for Kansas educators to meet the immediate need of supporting learning outside of normal practices. Rosproy served on the task force while continuing to teach her own students at Cumbernauld Little Vikes.
“We are so proud of Tabatha and excited to have her represent the state of Kansas,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “She is a remarkable educator whose passion for the profession is reflected daily in the eyes of her young students and in the members of the retirement community who volunteer in her classroom. Her ability to bridge this generational gap in a single classroom is perhaps one of the richest experiences we can offer our students and our communities.”
The National Teacher of the Year program, run by CCSSO, identifies exceptional teachers in the country; recognizes their effective work in the classroom; engages them in a year of professional learning; amplifies their voices; and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.
Rosproy, as the 2020 National Teacher of the Year, will spend a year representing educators and will serve as an ambassador for students and teachers across the nation, according to CCSSO. During her time as NTOY, Rosproy hopes to highlight the importance of social-emotional learning and early childhood education for all.
“I hope to bring a voice to the important role early childhood education plays in our society, but also to the powerful role social-emotional education at all age levels plays,” Rosproy said. “Now, more than ever, we are being reminded that our children must have the ability to regulate their emotions, to connect and to think critically about the world around them. Together, we can help them develop these essential skills.”
Every year, exemplary teachers from states, U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. The 2020 cohort includes 55 educators.
From that group, the National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee selects four finalists based on a specific set of criteria. The National Teacher of the Year is then selected after rigorous in-person interviews with the selection committee, which includes representatives from 17 renowned education and community organizations, which collectively represent millions of educators, parents and students.
Rosproy was one of four finalists for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year designation. Other finalists were Chris Dier, of Louisiana; Leila Kubesch, of Ohio; and Linda Rost, of Montana.
Rosproy began her career as an early childhood teacher in 2010 at the Heartland Programs Head Start in Salina, Salina USD 305. She became an early childhood special education teacher at the Winfield Early Learning Center (WELC) in 2014.
She has helped her preschool students thrive as part of a partnership with older residents. Her classroom is housed in Cumbernauld Village, a retirement community and nursing home in Winfield. This partnership helped build new social capital in the community, and the program saw increased preschool literacy and math scores.
Rosproy received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood unified, with a minor in English, in 2009 from Southwestern College. She is currently working on obtaining her master’s degree in education, English as a secondary or other language, from Fort Hays State University.
Rosproy is involved in several leadership roles and professional organizations, and she has received several awards and recognition, including Winfield USD 465 Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2015. She is active on her building leadership team, the co-head teacher of WELC and serves as co-president of Winfield National Education Association. She is also active at the state level with the Kansas National Education Association.
Learn more about each of the finalists, as well as the national program, by visiting https://ccsso.org/.