According to the paper, it was 15 years ago that I started what we have come to call my year as Miss America. No tiara, no sash, and no $32,000,000 in scholarships, but a year that will live in memory. South Dakota Teacher of the Year. What an amazing honor! And while I'm still not convinced there were any other candidates, I proudly claim the award. I believe EVERY teacher deserves the award...at least the ones that love what they do. I'm not naive enough to think all teachers are exceptional. Like every profession, there are those who do it for the money(!), some who do it for the summer months, and some who do it because they've done it and don't want to try something else. But the vast majority of the teachers I know ascribe to the philosophy that people deserve the right to make themselves better, that all people deserve respect, and that education is a means to a better world. And more importantly, they do it because they love their subject, they love their students, and they themselves love to continue to learn.
Because of the award, I met an amazing group of educators. We quickly bonded and became a family. Because of the award, I started my encore speaking career. Because of the award, I've discovered "world peace"! Oh wait...that's the Miss America thing again. Thanks for letting me walk down memory lane. Thanks for constantly supporting education, and thanks for allowing me to love you!