Congratulations To Our 2020 National University Teacher Award Winners
Our 2020 award winners were honored for their inspirational teaching practices in engaging students, building student confidence, giving students a voice, motivating students to succeed, and creating an inclusive environment. Demonstrating outstanding teaching and inspiration by supporting the social and emotional learning of their students, our winners have a genuine, powerful effect on their communities, and we are proud to recognize their dedication and accomplishments.
As part of the National University System, Inspire Teaching & Learning, Harmony SEL, and National University are dedicated to meeting the needs of a diverse population of lifelong learners, including Pre-K-12 students and educators. The National University Teacher Award reflects the combined missions of Inspire, Harmony, and NU to provide lifelong learning and promote positive peer relationships.
We are honored to have Alejandro Diasgranados, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Aiton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., as our 2020 National University Teacher of the Year! We want to congratulate Mr. Diasgranados and all our state winners recognized in 2020 for their well-earned achievement.
The National University Teacher of the Year
Aiton Elementary School
The National University Teacher of the Year
Alejandro Diasgranados provides inspiration to his students every day. Influenced by an inspirational teacher when he was growing up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Mr. Diasgranados seeks to provide the same kind of personal influence on his students. He has taught the same group of about 40 students for several years.
In his teaching and his actions, he seeks to remove all barriers to his students’ success. Recognizing that students were being bullied or were not coming to school because they did not have clean clothes, he wrote to the Washington Football Team to set up a laundry facility for the community in the school. Recognizing that the school in the Deanwood section of D.C. was in a food desert where students did not have healthy food options, he established a partnership with a local nonprofit that provides healthy cooking lessons each month to four grades throughout the school.
Mr. Diasgranados stays in constant communication with his students, which he has found even more important with the challenges experienced during COVID-19, the shift to distance learning, and the recent social unrest nationwide.
"My students are like family to me. I have been able to stay connected to my students, even throughout this pandemic. It is so important to listen to what students have to say. We want to amplify students’ voices and provide a comfortable environment where they can share whatever emotions they have to share… Their excitement and passion is my inspiration."
As he worked to earn a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Diasgranados included all of his students in the process, teaching them all about college, its culture, and how to apply. For his graduation day, he and his students raised money to rent a bus to Baltimore so that all 40 students were present as he walked across the stage.
Celebrate Your State's 2020 Winner
Click below to meet the winners from every state as they are announced.
All winners are visible in a list on the right of the page
Congratulations to all award winners!
Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan High School
"Ms. Campbell leads our department with dedication and she's focused on engaging students both in the class and throughout the community."
Birmingham, Alabama - Avondale Elementary School
"My life would not be today if it were not for Ms. Davis. I and so many other students call her "Mama Davis" because of the relationships she has built with us. She builds trust and rapport with students by being genuinely involved and concerned in every part of a child's life."
Hot Springs, Arkansas - Cutter Morning Star Elementary School
"Ms. Harrison is by far the BEST middle school science teacher and all around MENTOR to our 5th and 6th graders that I've had the pleasure of working with in my 44 year career!"
Phoenix, Arizona - South Pointe Elementary School
"Ms. Soulfire focuses on the whole child and empowers students to build their self motivation and growth mindset."
Los Angeles, California - 59th St. Elementary
"Ms. Barclay develops a safe rapport with her students. She is one of those teachers students will remember their whole lives."
Pueblo, Colorado - Vineland Middle School
"Ms. Gorham does everything I could ask for in a teacher and always helps those around her."
Stratford, Connecticut - Nichols Elementary School
"Mr. Ginicola is a master of blended classrooms, integrating dance and movement, and providing professional development for all colleagues."
Washington, District of Columbia - Aiton Elementary School
"Mr. Diasgranados is an exceptionally inspiring teacher because of his dedication and commitment to go above and beyond for his students, using his own story as inspiration to show students that they can succeed."
Wilmington, Delaware - Odyssey Charter School
"Ms. Tracy is a consummate teaching professional and one who inspires those around her to be better educators and citizens of the world. She is a leader in social justice and affording a quality, rigorous, and meaningful education for all students."
Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Lauderdale Manors Early Learning Facility
"Ms. Bremner embraces her role of advocating and supporting students' continuous academic growth with enthusiastic pride and passion on a daily basis."
Canton, Georgia - Free Home Elementary School
"Innovative. Passionate. Creative. These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of Mr. Furstenberg. He knows each child’s name, has high expectations for his students and instills a confidence about learning within each child. He cares about the kids and they know it."
Makawao, Hawaii - Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School
"Ms. Young has the highest expectations for her students and always pushes them to do their best."
Des Moines, Iowa - Brubaker Elementary
"Mr. Janss consistently uses tact and skill to develop a strong classroom community. He embraces challenges with an attitude and mindset that will overcome barriers often evident within a classroom with students with significant needs."
Boise, Idaho - South Junior High
"Ms. Drick spends endless hours connecting with students so they know they are appreciated and safe and she treats every student as though they are special and the only one."
Oak Lawn, Illinois - Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School
"Ms. McCarthy has consistently demonstrated a relentless effort to inspire our scholars through social justice topics and concepts to become practitioners of change. She is also a passionate advocate of global citizenship through literacy."
Indianapolis, Indiana - Lawrence Central High School
"Mrs. Toebes provides opportunities for our school community as a health coach, and tirelessly supports our students and staff as an educator."
Humboldt, Kansas - Humboldt Elementary School
"Ms. Cook is a leader in incorporating social-emotional learning into the classroom. She has high expectations of her students and helps them gain the confidence they need to meet those expectations."
RIchmond, Kentucky - Glenn Marshall Elementary School
"Mrs. Harris is a phenomenal teacher and she works tirelessly to make sure each of her students grows, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally."
Baton Rouge, Lousiana - The Dufrocq School
"Ms. Robinson has touched the lives of many students in her class, and spends many volunteer hours after school working with students to make sure all succeed under her tutelage."
South Yarmouth, Massachusetts - St Pius X School
"Ms. Perrault is a constantly positive and creative educator. She inspires her students daily to think, to solve problems, to collaborate, and to take ownership of their learning."
Laurel, Maryland - CMIT North Elementary School
"Ms. Green adovcates for every individual in our building -- each and every stakeholder alike -- students, staff, parents and community members. She greets each and every student as they enter the building and energizes their day."
Guilford, Maine - Piscataquis Community High School
"Our graduates frequently share that their senior English teacher Mr. Hennessey prepared them best for their next step in life."
Detroit, Michigan - Detroit Prep
"Even in the most challenging situations and balancing multiple responsibilities, Ms. Ortega maintained her focus on creating a community of learning in her classroom, not only for the current year, but also for her students’ lives in the future."
Minneapolis, Minnesota - Hiawatha Leadership Academy
"Mr. McNiven creates a classroom community where all students and teammates thrive; he honors the individuality of his students and works to build a strong collective team on the path through college."
Berkeley, Missouri - Holman Elementary School
"Ms. Prinster has changed the culture in her school through her efforts in student wellness, and she consistently creates opportunities that inspire students to learn and grow as responsible citizens."
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Warren Central Intermediate
"Mr. Price is an inspiration to all students. He actively engages his students in the classroom with his projects and encourage students to be leaders among their peers and communities."
Twin Bridges, Montana - Twin Bridges Public Schools
"Mrs. Hellwinkel is a dynamic and impactful instructor. Students know that she cares about them because she makes them feel safe and gives them the the confidence to pursue their education."
Piney Creek, North Carolina - Piney Creek School
"Ms. Murphy teaches her students to be better people through global citizenship. All students in her class are taught that they have a voice that they can use to impact the world."
Wilmington, North Carolina - Castle Hayne Elementary
"Mr. Todd is a dedicated and a caring educator who fully embodies the Harmony program. He works hard to bring in culturally diverse and relevant instructional materials into his lessons."
Hunter, North Dakota - Northern Cass Public School
"Mr. Krinke has worked hard to develop trust amongst his learners, and once he has established trust his ability to reach learners through books and readings is outstanding."
Lincoln, Nebraska - Kahoa Elementary School
"No matter the need, Ms. Voinovich believes in her students and believes it is her responsibility to make sure they experience success and gain the skills necessary to be successful in life, including personalizing each student's learning plan."
Nashua, New Hampshire - New Searles Elementary School
"Mr. Hansen is committed to teaching kids to think in innovative ways, while empowering their creativity with out-of-the-box activities."
Toms River, New Jersey - East Dover Elementary
"Ms. Wilbert consistently finds ways to help her disabled students excel in language acquisition and their behavioral goals. Over the last two years, she has been a huge supporter of the school becoming fully inclusive. Her present and past students all know that she is willing to support them through any challenge is and that is why she is successful in the classroom."
Animas, New Mexico - Animas High School
"It is unbelievable to watch Ms. Massey engage with students and witness how motivated students are by her innovation and energy in our small rural community."
Las Vegas, Nevada - C.P. Squires
"Ms. Miller is empowering our students to become well-rounded individuals who are conscientious and always thinking of others."
Brooklyn, New York - James Madison High School
"Ms. Morris has transformed our Title 1 community of 4,000 students to truly take a step back and look at each child and their needs. She is without a doubt a true educator who never stops thinking out of the box to help children become the next best them."
Kent, Ohio - Theodore Roosevelt High School
"Ms. Flaherty is an incredible educator and consistently builds upon our professional development themes of empathy and connection, always looking at different areas where students can feel better about themselves."
Edmond, Oklahoma - Sunset Elementary
"Ms. Bointy has supported the implementation of Harmony resources for each of our classroom teachers and continues to be a champion for families and children in our community."
Warrenton, Oregon - Warrenton Grade School
"Ms. Salmi goes above and beyond for her students, cares about their social emotional needs, and she connects with her students and their families."
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Henry C. Lea Elementary School
"Ms. Beverly's students evolve in her class, becoming aware of the world around them, developing a deeper understanding of persuasive arguments, and growing as generous, thoughtful human beings."
Providence, Rhode Island - Nathanael Greene Middle School
"Ms. Smith is a team player and always has the student at the center, leading physical and mental health and wellness iniatives to ensure that our students are socially and emotionally safe."
Florence, South Carolina - Southside Middle School
"Ms. Warr is a daily inspiration to her students by modeling for them that through perseverance and positivity, success is inevitable. She encourages and nurtures middle school students during a time in life when peer pressure and daily challenges are common."
Watertown, South Dakota - Roosevelt Elementary School
"Mrs. Kannas is a relentless learner and advocate for all students in her classroom. She partners with families to support children going through hardships and she has a burning desire to move students forward with academic achievement and social-emotional growth."
Memphis, Tennessee - John P. Freeman Optional School
"Dr. Collins is always student centered and leverages anything she can to expose her students to new opportunities and to be more aware of their backgrounds and hertigage."
Missouri City, Texas - Missouri City Middle School
"Mr. Thomas goes above and beyond to reach our students and make learning engaging and meaningful."
South Weber, Utah - South Weber Elementary
"Ms. Sheffield has made it her personal mission to ensure that ALL of our students are taught the necessary social and emotional skills to make our world a better place."
Henrico, Virginia - Gayton Elementary
"Ms. Harrell is a tremendously student-centered teacher who differentiates the needs of her students academically as well as socially and emotionally. She carefully develops a classroom culture that is inclusive and supportive to all students."
Williston, Vermont - Allen Brook School
"Ms. Porter works beyond her classroom walls to promote a healthy working environment for her colleagues."
Federal Way, Washington - Lake Grove Elementary
"Ms. Henry teaches students the art of being courageous at accomplishing their goals."
Minocqua, Wisconsin - Lakeland Union High School
"In the classroom, Ms. Wentland has mastered the difficult skill of blending a safe, caring environment with rigorous academic activities for her students. Beyond the classroom, she shares her knowledge and abundant experience with other professional educators around the country. Mary Wentland is a true gem in the educational field."
Martinsburg, West Virginia - Spring Mills High School
"Ms. Hillard inspires students to learn, to be successful, and to feel accepted and be challenged. She goes above and beyond for her students. There are not many teachers like her."
Thermopolis, Wyoming - Ralph Witters Elementary
"When you have a conversation with Ms. Taylor about education, you can tell from her care and cutting-edge ideas that she is meant to be a teacher and above all else a Kindergarten teacher."
Lee Morgan - Wasilla, Alaska
Snowshoe Elementary School-Behavior Support Program
Patricia Skelton - Opelika, Alabama
Opelika Middle School
Claudine James - Malvern, Arkansas
Malvern Middle School
Katrina Lacey - Desert Vista, Arizona
Desert Vista High School
Martha Garibay - Los Angeles, California
Fifty-Second Street Elementary School
Randi Dotter - Cotopaxi, Colorado
Cotopaxi Consolidated Schools
Jeanne Malgioglio - Trumbull, Connecticut
Madison Middle School
Sarah Frayer - Washington D.C.
Friendship Woodridge International School
Laura Thompson - Hockessin, Delaware
William F. Cooke, Jr. Elementary School
Jennifer Apgar - Tampa, Florida
Ferrell Girls Preparatory Academy
Jennelle Williams - Atlanta, Georgia
Dean Rusk Head Start Academy
LeeAnn Pule-Viernes - Hauuka, Hawaii
Kahuku Complex Intensive Learning Classroom
Beth Deacon - Keokuk, Iowa
Keokuk High School
Kelsey Bender - Blackfoot, Idaho
Blackfoot High School
Loretta Edwards - Chicago, Illinois
Clara Barton School
Terri Childers - Hammond, Indiana
Joseph Hess Elementary
Reina Cruz - Junction City, Kansas
Junction City High School
Kerri Stanfield - Maysville, Kentucky
Mason County Middle School
Kristen Bruce - Leesville, Louisiana
Pickering High School
Renee Estrella - Swansea, Massachusetts
Joseph G Luther Elementary School
Susan Ellerbee - Randallstown, Maryland
Randallstown High School
Sarah Page - Vasselboro, Maine
SKCDC Head Start
Jessyca Mathews - Carman-Ainsworth, Michigan
Carman-Ainsworth High School
Taylor Thomas - South St. Paul, Minnesota
Intermediate School District 917
Leslie Aguilar - Columbia, Missouri
Battle High School AVID College Readiness System
Jennifer Pratt - Houston, Mississippi
Houston Alternative High School
Connie Michael - Crow Agency, Montana
Crow Agency Public School
Lindsey Cahoon - Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Elizabeth City Middle School
Leah Juelke - Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo South High
Tom Whisinnand - Omaha, Nebraska
Maryanne Cullinan - Antrim, New Hampshire
Great Brook School
Michael Niedizejko - New Providence, New Jersey
New Providence High School
Denise Agan - Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Mountain View Middle School
Stephanie Graville - Las Vegas, Nevada
CC Ronnow Marathon Kidspe Elementary School
Zenzile Dabreo - Brooklyn, New York
PS IS 109
Linda Amici - Westerville, Ohio
Dallas Fields - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dove Science Academy
Felisha Ferber - Portland, Oregon
Glenfair Elementary School
Jerriel Hall - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
KIPP West Philadelphia Prep
Megan Thomas - Providence, Rhode Island
Paul Cuffee Upper School
Patti Nunnally - Florence, South Carolina
Henry Timrod Elementary
Spencer Cody - Roscoe, South Dakota
Edmunds Central School District
Kayla Flatt - Cookeville, Tennessee
Norma Burke - Houston, Texas
Early College High School Galena Park ISD
Stephanie Hunt - North Salt Lake, Utah
Clayton Middle School
Lani Ashberry - Middlesex, Virginia
St. Clare Walker Middle School
Miranda Johnson - Hinesburg, Vermont
Hinesburg Community School
Holly Coty - Tumwater, Washington
Peter G. Schmidt
Heidi Hamilton - Hartland, Wisconsin
Arrowhead High School
Amy Parent - Huntington, West Virginia
St. Joseph Catholic School
Kelly Vallier - Rock River, Wyoming
Rock River School