Juliana Urtubey is a special education teacher at Booker Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Having experience of over a decade, being an educator for kindergarten through fifth grade and her attempts to improve learning outcomes for her students, landed Urtubey the ward for 2021 National Teacher of the Year.
The Council of Chief State School Officers recognized Urtubey as the winner of the national award. She became the first woman since 2005 of Latin American descent and the very first Nevada state teacher to have won the award. The council CEO Carissa Moffat Miller told NBC News, “Juliana Urtubey exemplifies the dedication, creativity and heart teachers bring to their students and communities.”
Urtubey has been named Ms. Earth (originally “Ms. Earth-to-bey,” a pun on her last name) with much love, by her students for her efforts to beautify schools with gardens. She along with her students formed a garden club called “Gnomies” along with a mini farmer’s market.
Urtubey said, “We, as teachers, are much more open to this self-paced learning, this flipped classroom, which has been an invitation for students who think and learn differently.”
Starting from individualizing lessons, tending to the emotional and behavioral needs of her students to spending hours with struggling pre-K kids, helping fifth-graders and strategizing with teachers, Urtubey does it all.
The award is usually presented at the White House by the President but due to the pandemic the ceremony has been delayed. This did not stop the First Lady, Jill Biden, from congratulating Urtubey during a surprise visit to her classroom. Being an educator herself, the First Lady knows the struggles and importance of the education system. The First Lady said, while appreciating Urtubey’s work, “She (Urtubey) is just the epitome of a great teacher, a great educator.”
During her childhood, having had troubles in finding a good school and correct learning environment, made Urtubey realise the importance of educators and the right classroom. This inspired her to become a teacher herself and work with differently abled students. She said, “There’s always strengths to find, and so once you find those strengths, you start there.”
ScooNews wishes Juliana Urtubey, Ms. Earth, heartfelt congratulation on winning the National Teacher of the Year 2021 award!
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