(I was honored to be flown to the National State Teachers of the Year Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 21 by the CCSSO.  The following entry comes from my Iowa Teacher of the Year 2014  blog at-

How do you take a collage of feelings and put it into words?  If I were an artist, I would paint this week with rich vibrant colors like the oil paintings of the Southwest artists – deep reds and vibrant yellows and royal blues.  I would shape those feelings into a sculpture with refined lines and rounded edges, gentle curves and flowing strokes.  I would write a musical score with sweet cadence and stringed chords, gently resting in the music of the mind.  All would be written and created with love for that is what I felt these past five days.  Loved.  Cared for.  Appreciated. Energized. More passionate than ever to tell the story, to paint the picture, of what teachers do every day in their classrooms, in their hallways, in their hearts.  A real teacher, a teacher who feels it to the core, continually breathes student names.  A real teacher carries students within, both those whom which they were successful and those whom they feel they failed.  Those they have reached with a fire for learning and those whom they sent on their way hoping the next teacher could reach.  A real teacher’s job is never done.  There are always more students to teach, more phone calls to make, more papers to grade, more lessons to plan, more learning to do in order to discover the best way to instruct.  Ever growing.  Ever changing. Ever discovering about techniques, about student needs, and about oneself.

As Teachers of the Year, we have been given a torch to carry – to illuminate for others what goes on in our classrooms, in our schools, in our districts.  We have been challenged to communicate a message of purpose, to share a message to honor the teaching profession, to deliver a message to move our profession forward. It is the same torch given to all teachers who love our profession.
Jeff Charbonneau, 2013 Teacher of the Year, put into perspective the reasons we teach.  A teacher knows he or she will never be rich according to the way our world defines rich, but we are teachers.  We create, we innovate, we inspire, we define and our definition of rich is not manifested in a number.  Our definition of rich is residing in a heart, the heart of the student we encouraged, the heart of the student we challenged, the heart of the student we did not allow to simply “get by.”   It resides in our own hearts, rich with satisfaction because we know the secret of what true wealth is and it is not in a ledger or in our pockets.  We carry our wealth in the value of what we do each day and that is teach.