English language arts teacher Dana Miles has been named the 2023 Washington State Teacher of the Year. Miles, who teaches at the Washington School for the Deaf, is known for her innovative teaching techniques, which are designed to help her students succeed both in and out of the classroom.
Dana Miles is deeply committed to her students and believes in providing them with the tools they need to succeed in the world beyond high school. One of her key priorities is ensuring that students with additional disabilities are protected and prepared for the challenges they will face.
“Dana wants to make sure that her students are getting access to the resources and best education they can get, including Social Emotional Learning (SEL),” wrote Amy Blades, Washington School for the Deaf School Counselor. “Students with additional disabilities are at risk of being harmed or taken advantage of. Dana wants to make sure that they get education on self-advocacy, recognizing unhealthy behaviors in themselves and others, trusting their intuition, learning communication skills, and tools to navigate the outside world.”
The 2023 Washington Teacher of the Year has been teaching for more than a decade and comes from a family of educators. Her husband, Billy Miles, also teaches at the school as an art teacher. Miles is known for her dedication to her students and her ability to make learning applicable to real-world contexts.
“The work Mrs. Miles does to prepare her students for the world after high school is phenomenal,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “The way she makes her students’ learning applicable to their lives and the use of real-world contexts sets them up for success after high school in a variety of ways.”
Miles’ focus on real-world skills is evident in her work with the school’s work experience program. The program teaches practical, real-life skills to students to help them prepare for life beyond the classroom. Miles is passionate about the program and its potential to help her students succeed.
“I really had no idea how many barriers deaf people have toward finding employment,” Miles said. “I try to make sure our students actually have the opportunity to prepare for a variety of career options. It’s about teaching things like soft skills, where to look for employment and how to navigate those conversations.”
Dana Miles’ commitment to her students has not gone unnoticed. She was recently named the 2023 Washington State Teacher of the Year, an honor that recognizes her dedication and innovation in the classroom. She will now be considered for the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in the spring of 2023.
“Dana develops authentic relationships with her students. They love her, and they know they can always count on her to be in their corner,” said Shauna Bilyeu, the school’s principal. “She freely shares her own experiences — stories of what it means to be a deaf female and how to navigate the hearing world. She is a passionate teacher, and I respect her tremendously.”