Wyoming Teacher of the Year

Wyoming Department of Education > For Teachers > Recognition > Wyoming Teacher of the Year

The Teacher of the Year program honors excellence in teaching around the state of Wyoming.

2023 Wyoming Teacher of the Year – Zachary Beam, Newcastle High School

Zachary Beam has worked as a high school science teacher at Newcastle High School in Newcastle for the past nine years. Prior to that, Beam worked for the United States Forest Service Job Corps’ Education Department.

He currently teaches physical science, physics, advanced chemistry, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Lab. Beam holds a Bachelor of Science from Black Hills State University. There he majored in Math and Science Education with a focus on physics.

He has a Master of Arts in Science Education from Western Governors University with a focus on chemistry. Beam has presented at state and national conferences on managing a paperless classroom, the logistics of summer field science, and implementing a student makerspace to support student interest in STEM.


2023 District Teachers of the Year

  • Albany County School District #1 – Amy McManamen
    • Fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Velma Linford Elementary in Laramie.
  • Big Horn County School District #1 – Wendy Kuper
    • Language Arts and Journalism teacher at Burlington Schools in Burlington.
  • Big Horn County School District #2 – Caleb Sanders
    • Social Studies and Health teacher at Lovell High School in Lovell.
  • Big Horn County School District #3 – Tim Eardley*
    • Spanish teacher at Greybull High School in Greybull.
  • Big Horn County School District #4 – Magdalena Stone*
    • Middle school math teacher at Riverside Middle/High School in Basin.
  • Campbell County School District #1 – Vanessa Bridges
    • Physics, Physical Science, and AP Physics teacher at Campbell County High School in Gillette.
  • Carbon County School District #1 – Ivey Barnes
    • Mathematics teacher at Rawlins Middle School in Rawlins.
  • Carbon County School District #2 – Myra Kopasz
    • First grade teacher at Saratoga Elementary School in Saratoga. 
  • Converse County School District #1 – Chyann Brandemuehl*
    • Intensive special education teacher at Douglas Primary School in Douglas. 
  • Converse County School District #2 – Sally Downs
    • Retired sixth-grade teacher from Glenrock Elementary School in Glenrock.
  • Crook County School District #1 – Lila Kennah*
    • Instrumental, Vocal, General Music, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Physics teacher at Hulett School in Hulett.
  • Fremont County School District #1 – Camriel Kostreva*
    • English Language Arts and Reading Intervention teacher at Lander Valley High School in Lander.
  • Fremont County School District #2 – Melissa Harris
    • Fifth-grade teacher at Dubois K-12 School in Dubois.
  • Fremont County School District #38 – Brian Decker
    • Fourth-grade teacher at Arapahoe Elementary School in Arapahoe.
  • Goshen County School District #1 – Erin Estes*
    • Mathematics teacher at Lingle – Ft. Laramie High School in Lingle. 
  • Hot Springs County School District #1 – Britton Van Heule
    • Agriculture Education and Career and Technical Education teacher at Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis. 
  • Johnson County School District #1 – Christine Houseman*
    • Biology, Human Biology, and AP Biology teacher at Buffalo High School in Buffalo.
  • Laramie County School District #1 – Erin Freeman*
    • Social studies teacher at South High School in Cheyenne.
  • Laramie County School District #2 – Mary Graves
    • Biology, Chemistry, Concurrent Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, and Environmental Science teacher at Pine Bluffs High School in Pine Bluffs.
  • Natrona County School District #1 – Sandra Stille
    • English Language Arts teacher at Centennial Junior High School in Casper.
  • Niobrara County School District #1 – Michele Thompson*
    • K-12 Special Education and Occupational Therapy-Related teacher at the Wyoming Virtual Academy.
  • Park County School District #1 – Tracy McArthur
    • English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Powell High School in Powell.
  • Park County School District #6 – Christine Galagan
    • Fourth-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School in Cody.
  • Platte County School District #1 – Anthony Nichols
    • Third-grade teacher at West Elementary School in Wheatland.
  • Platte County School District #2 – Brian Faber
    • Retired Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies teacher from Guernsey-Sunrise Elementary School in Guernsey.
  • Sheridan County School District #1 – Andrew MarCure
    • Middle and High school Business, Technology, Computer Science, Yearbook, Digital Media, and Career Education teacher at Big Horn High School in Big Horn.
  • Sheridan County School District #2 – Julianne Craft
    • High School Science teacher at John C. Schiffer Collaborative School in Sheridan.
  • Sheridan County School District #3 – Joslyn Camino
    • First- and second-grade teacher at Arvada-Clearmont Elementary School in Clearmont. 
  • Sublette County School District #9 – McKenzie Sullivan
    • Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology teacher at Big Piney High School in Big Piney.
  • Sweetwater County School District #1 – Brittany Andrews
    • Fourth-grade teacher at Pilot Butte Elementary in Rock Springs.
  • Sweetwater County School District #2 – Heather Phillips*
    • First- and second-grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School in Green River.
  • Teton County School District #1 – Gabriel Lopez
    • Spanish Language Arts, AP Spanish Literature, and Spanish through Art teacher at Jackson Hole High School in Jackson.
  • Washakie County School District #1 – Sharee Barrus
    • Second-grade, fourth-grade, Title I, and Reading Recovery teacher at East Side Elementary School in Worland.
  • Weston County School District #1 – Zach Beam (2023 Wyoming Teacher of the Year).*
    • Physical Science, Physics, Advanced Chemistry, and STEM Lab teacher at Newcastle High School in Newcastle.
  • Weston County School District #7 – Alyson Kruger*
    • English teacher at Upton Elementary/Middle School in Upton.

Duties & Responsibilities of the Wyoming Teacher of the Year

The successful candidate who will serve as the Wyoming Teacher of the Year (WTOY) must maintain his/her current employment position. If the WTOY is selected as the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY), they will be released from classroom responsibilities during the year of national recognition.

Being named WTOY comes with the significant responsibility of representing the teaching profession in Wyoming.

The WTOY acts as:

  • A liaison between the teaching community, Wyoming Legislature, Wyoming Department of Education, districts and communities.
  • An education ambassador to businesses, parents, service organizations, and media.
  • A resource on the state of the profession; to be available for workshops and conferences around the state.
  • An education leader involved in teacher forums and education reform.

The WTOY is also expected to attend both state and national events such as education meetings, conferences, and workshops. 

Since the WTOY will be requested to attend many events and make speeches during the year, they must be poised, articulate, and have the energy to withstand a busy schedule.

The WTOY automatically becomes the nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Program, which is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

WTOY Selection Process

All applications received by the deadline will go to the WDE selection panel for review. This Application Information Document provides more information about the WTOY selection process.

Scoring of each application will be based on the 2024 TOY Rubric. The selection panel will individually score each application. The TOY Coordinator will compile all scores to have the top three applications become finalists. 

The finalists will also be scheduled for virtual interviews where the entire selection panel will ask finalists questions about their teaching style and practices. The questions for this interview will NOT be given out ahead of time. In addition, the finalists will be asked to give a 5-7 minute keynote addressing their platform topic. 

The selection panel will score both the finalist keynotes and interviews individually. Again, scores will be combined to select the WTOY. If there is a tie, the selection panel will meet to discuss and select a recommendation for final approval by the State Superintendent.

A document with suggestions for submitting your application can be found here.

2024 WTOY Application

If you were selected as a 2024 District Teacher of the Year (DTOY), you are eligible to apply for the 2024 WTOY. The application is due on June 30, 2023.

Click here for the 2024 Wyoming Teacher of the Year Application

2024 Teacher of the Year Timeline and Selection Process*

Timeline Description
By a deadline established by your local school district Submit application to the point person(s) who facilitates the DTOY program in your district.
June 30, 2023 Each DTOY submits the online application to the WDE. All applicants become candidates for the WTOY award.
July 1 through September 2023 WDE Team moves through its selection process for WTOY.
No later than September 1, 2023 Each participating district announces its DTOY awardee. The local school district may choose to announce its DTOY any time before this date but no later than this date.

Please note: a DTOY that becomes a finalist for WTOY will be notified sometime between June and July.

September 2023 2024 WTOY is announced by the WDE.
October 31, 2023 Application for the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) award is due. This is submitted by the WDE on behalf of the WTOY.
December 2023 The National Selection Committee moves through its selection process for NTOY.
December 2023  Four NTOY finalists, their state superintendent, and state teams of the four states selected will be notified by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
February 2024  The four NTOY finalists will be brought to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with the Selection Committee in a variety of situations, including individual interviews.
April/May 2024  The 2024 National Teacher of the Year will be announced and honored in Washington, DC.
*The State Superintendent of Public Instruction makes the final decision on the Wyoming Teacher of the Year winner.

Contact Information:

For more information about the Teacher of the Year program, please contact:

Robin Grandpre
WDE Teacher of the Year Coordinator