Teacher of the Year (TOY)

“A teacher affects eternity” --Henry Adams


The Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the ING Foundation and is a project of the Chief Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with People to People Ambassador Programs.

Criteria for Selection of State Teacher of the Year

A candidate for Teacher of the Year should be an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled teacher in any state-approved or accredited school; pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, who is planning to continue in an active teaching status. The candidate should:

  • inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn;
  • have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues;
  • play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school;
  • be poised, articulate, and possess the energy to withstand a taxing schedule; and
  • be a certified teacher through the state of Alaska.

2015 Application Packet

About the National Teacher of the Year Program

The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program began in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. The NTOY is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a National Selection Committee representing the major national education organizations. Each April, the NTOY is introduced to the American people by the President of the United States.

Participation in the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program is available through the State Teacher of the Year Program. Each year the 50 states, five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity name a state teacher of the year.

During the official year of recognition, the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) is released from classroom duties to travel nationally and internationally as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession. The teacher's home state and district ensure the teacher's salary and benefits. All scheduling and logistical arrangements for the National Teacher are coordinated through the NTOY Program. National Teachers average over 150 events each year before audiences ranging from several hundred to over ten thousand. Television, radio, and the print media readily utilize National Teachers to represent the voice of education. The National Teacher may be called upon to represent American educators to audiences in other nations. National Teachers are frequently requested to sit on national and state commissions and policy advising bodies.

2014 Teacher of the Year

  • The 2014 Alaska Teacher of the year is Denise Lisac, K-5 reading teacher in Dillingham Elementary School in the Dillingham City School District.

Recent Teachers of the Year

  • 2013 - Christopher Benshoof, Lathrop High School in Fairbanks
  • 2012 - Cara Heitz, Cordova Jr./Sr. High School in Cordova
  • 2011 - Lorrie Heagy, Glacier Valley Elementary School, Juneau

Past Teachers of the Year


For more information, please contact:

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
Teacher of the Year Program
ATTN: Atiya Barlow, Program Coordinator
344 West Third Avenue, Suite 127
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: (907) 269-6579