May 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Colombian immigrant named "2021 National Teacher of the Year"

Juliana Urtubey, the 2021 National Teacher of the Year, stands in front of trees.

Juliana Urtubey, the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. Photo: Melissa Esparza/Council of Chief State School Officer

A Colombian-born special education teacher in a Nevada elementary school has been named the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

Why it matters: Juliana Urtubey is the first Hispanic person to earn the honor since 2005. Her selection comes as the U.S. Latino student population grows and the national focus turns to reopening schools after the coronavirus outbreak.

Details: The 11-year classroom veteran teaches at Kermit R. Booker Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas, where she serves as a co-teacher in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade special education settings.

  • She was chosen by the Council of Chief State School Officers from a shortlist of state teachers of the year from 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories.
  • Urtubey will spend a year in her new role representing educators and serving as an ambassador for students and teachers across the nation.

Urtubey told Telemundo Noticias she is proud to represent her community and her school, and that she was honored to meet first lady Jill Biden, herself an educator, during the presentation ceremony.

  • The bilingual Urtubey said she teaches many English-language learners in an area that has seen a jump in Latino students.

What they're saying: “Juliana Urtubey exemplifies the dedication, creativity and heart teachers bring to their students and communities,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, CCSSO chief executive officer.

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