A Norwood Middle School teacher is in the running to be named the 2020 Teacher of the Year. Leila Kubesch was named Ohio's Teacher of the Year in October, putting her in the running for the national title bestowed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
Kubesch is among four finalists. The winner, who will be announced in the spring, will spend a year touring the country doing advocacy work.
"The four finalists for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year stand out as exceptional educators and leaders, serving students and communities with expertise, empathy and passion," the selection committee says in a statement. "These State Teachers of the Year are working to equitably meet the needs of all students by holding high expectations for every child, prioritizing student well-being, and intentionally engaging with the communities in which they teach. Any one of them would do an outstanding job as the profession's ambassador."
Kubesch teaches English and Spanish to students who speak neither as a first language. In selecting her as Ohio's Teacher of the Year, the Ohio Department of Education writes:
"Having committed to teaching in high-need schools, she became resourceful in securing unique opportunities for her students. With the goal of empowering all youth in the same manner as those in affluent communities, she fosters community partnerships, writes grants for innovative learning and instills a mindset of dreaming big through large-scale service learning projects that stem from youth initiatives. The work of her students has landed in museums around the country and won national recognition."
Norwood City School's Superintendent Katherine Sabo praises Kubesch for going beyond her work at the school to help meet her student's needs.
"Leila is a force in bringing our students and community together in the act of learning," Sabo says. "She regularly visits the homes of her students to cultivate mutual trust and respect, and to make sure parents stay involved in the education of their children."
Kubesch is also praised for her advocacy on behalf of emancipated youth in foster care. "She presented to large audiences including TedXCincinnati, where she won the Audience Choice Award for her talk. She spoke with politicians and dedicated her effort until House Bill 50 passed, enabling foster youth in Ohio to have a home until age 21," according to her application.