Career and Technical Education Instructor Blaire Penry is the 2024 Washington State Teacher of the Year

Career and Technical Education Instructor Blaire Penry is the 2024 Washington State Teacher of the YearBlaire Penry, a devoted Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Electives teacher at Auburn Online School, has been honored as the 2024 Washington State Teacher of the Year. Penry’s exemplary dedication to her students and innovative teaching methods have earned her this prestigious accolade.

Penry’s teaching portfolio is diverse, encompassing subjects such as psychology and theater for students in grades six through twelve. Her passion for these subjects is evident in her teaching philosophy, which centers on making learning relevant and engaging for her students. “I really love what I teach,” said Penry. “I’m fortunate in that I get to teach career and technology and electives – so I teach psychology and theater. These are things that I genuinely love and find interesting and can find relevance in their lives and build those connections between their lives outside of school, and then the curriculum.”

The Washington State Teacher of the Year approach to education is deeply influenced by her lived experiences and activism. Penry is a champion of equity and diversity, having led the creation of student equity groups and developed professional development programs for faculty across the Auburn School District. Her commitment to these values ensures that her classroom is a welcoming and inclusive environment where all students can thrive.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal praised Penry for her outstanding contributions to education. “Each year, it’s an honor to recognize and celebrate several of our incredibly talented and dedicated educators,” Reykdal said. “Blaire is an excellent example of some of the best parts of our public school system in Washington. She supports and cares for the individual needs of each and every one of her students and creates learning spaces that are welcoming, engaging, and inclusive.”

Blaire Penry’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts in teaching from Texas Woman’s University. She has been supporting K–12 students for seven years, both as a teacher and as an education leader. At Auburn Online School, which was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penry played a crucial role in designing a curriculum that leverages new technologies to engage students.

Her students and colleagues speak highly of her impact. “I believe that Mrs. Penry is an outstanding teacher. The way that she shows her students how much she cares about them and the energy she brings to the classroom every day constantly making you want to be there is amazing,” said a senior student. Nola Wilson, Principal of Auburn Online School, echoed these sentiments, stating, “Blaire is especially skilled at building engaging, student-centered learning communities, providing consistent and caring guidance, and elevating students’ positive sense of self.”

As the 2024 Washington State Teacher of the Year, Blaire Penry’s leadership and innovative teaching continue to shape her school community, inspiring students and colleagues alike to become reflective, informed and active citizens. Her journey now extends to the national stage, where she will compete for the National Teacher of the Year, bringing her vision and passion for education to an even broader audience.

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