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Whitworth alum named Alaska's Teacher of the Year

Amy holds a door open as a line of elementary students file inside.

Amy Jo (Macaulay) Meiners, '88, was named Alaska's 2016 Teacher of the Year by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Meiners' name will now be submitted as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced in April. The National Teacher of the Year is given a paid leave of absence for one year to travel for speaking engagements and policy commissions.

"Being named Teacher of the Year is a humbling experience," Meiners says. "There are many great teachers who have mentored me, who teach with me, and who I see at the starting line of their careers."

Meiners met some of her mentors while studying at Whitworth.

"My Whitworth education helped me define who I am in terms of mind and heart," Meiners says. "I remember Forrest Baird challenging me to find what it means to participate fully in life's journey. In addition, fantastic education professors taught me the craft of teaching, the art and science of education, and kept it embedded in the reality of constant practice. Randy Michaelis taught me that learning is an ever-changing, ongoing process rather than an end-product or outcome."

Her Whitworth education also inspired Meiners to focus on the world beyond the classroom.

"Through many classes, work-studies, and leadership opportunities, Whitworth encouraged me to step up to the challenge of finding a way to help our world be a better place," Meiners says. "The combination of looking globally and acting locally has made a difference in how I view being a teacher."

Meiners is an extended-learning teacher for Alaska's Riverbend and Auke Bay elementary schools.

"My greatest accomplishment has been guiding students in a way that extends their intellectual, social and emotional learning, helping them find their own passions to continue their independent learning," Meiners says. "Through rigorous standards, culturally relevant experiences, technology and arts integration, and creative, self-driven learning, my students will have the foundation to become lifelong learners, responsible citizens, and productive members of society."

Meiners' daughter Maggie also graduated from Whitworth. She is a member of the Class of 2015, who graduated with majors in physics engineering, business management, and math. In addition, Meiners' daughter Gracie is a current Whitworth sophomore, studying marketing.