So I'm sitting here scrolling through my Facebook news feed, looking for the next great piece of content that I can share with you, when I'm stopped dead in my tracks by one of the posts I see.

My friend (and my son's band director) Mr. Goodwin wrote "Humbled and honored to have been selected as the 2021 Indiana Teacher of the Year." What?! This is HUGE! I've got to write about this and spread the good news! If I would have kept reading his status, I would have seen "Even more humbled to share this award with all of my colleagues, who deserve this far more than I." What?! Now I'm confused.

Simply put, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has decided that the 2021 Indiana Teacher of the Year will not be one teacher, but over 65,000 of them - that's ALL the teachers in Indiana. I gotta say it's hard to argue with that. I guess a once in a lifetime kind of school year deserves a once in a lifetime kind of award. In a statement, Indiana State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick says “The COVID-19 pandemic brought new complexities and challenges to schools with no advance warning. Teachers across our state have displayed a level of flexibility and commitment, underscoring the fact Hoosiers really are #INthisTogether.”

You and I know that teachers do not choose this career path because they're looking for attention and awards - they choose it because they love to teach young people, and they want to make a difference in their lives. Having said that, I'm sure it's nice to get recognized every once in a while for those efforts.

That's how I feel about the IDOE's decision, but how do some Indiana teachers feel about it? I happen to know a few of them, and here's what they had to say.

Doug Goodwin (Helfrich Park STEM Academy)

This is the most appropriate decision the Indiana Department of Education could have made. I know this announcement brought a smile to the face of many teachers who needed a pick-me-up at the end of this school year. I think we all include those who became teachers at home as well!

Catie Tenbarge (Cynthia Heights Elementary School)

It’s well deserved for all! This year was not a normal year, so it doesn’t deserve a normal award. We didn’t miss a beat, we changed directions and made sure our students still had the best education we could offer! It’s nice to be recognized for all our hard work.

Lydia Goodwin (Daniel Wertz Elementary School)

Wow! That’s going to look really good on my resume! In all seriousness, it’s awesome that they are recognizing all of the hard work that teachers everywhere have been making “on the fly” to try to keep kids learning and parents sane. We have never done anything like this before and we certainly didn’t have a “teaching distance-learning” class in college! Great work everyone!

Jana Schlosser (Reitz High School)

Oh wait...is the IDOE saying all teachers are winning it this year??! I had no idea! When can I expect my bonus? Hahaha!!

Alex Craig (Daniel Wertz Elementary School)

Welllllll, I’d like to thank my sponsors - Dr. Pepper, Purple Doritos, and Cosmic brownies for getting me through teaching in a pandemic...but in all seriousness, there’s no college course on this. It happened, and it happened fast. No goodbyes and several unknowns. I think the behind the scenes part of pandemic teaching was the most important part. Our schools quickly found ways to help feed our kids, and support them in ways people don’t realize they get from the schools day in and day out. It wasn’t just assigning work or sending home packets. We care about these kids and their well-being, all around we found ways to connect. Our music teacher incorporated names into songs for Feel Good Friday’s, we had staff teaching lessons on Facebook live, and field trip webex’s. Even through a pandemic, I hope people never forget how important this job is, and that it goes beyond grades and class work! I’m thankful that the IDOE could recognize the dedication.

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