Teacher of the Year

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

2019 Wyoming Teacher of the Year – Valerie Bruce

Inspired by her grandmother who taught for 42 years, Valerie Bruce knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher. With the purpose of helping others learn, sharing curiosities, igniting passions, and aiding children in finding their futures, Valerie began her pursuit at the University of Montana-Missoula. She graduated in May 2009, with a degree in Elementary Education and began teaching in Campbell County School District #1 in July 2009. She then pursued her Masters in Educational Administration from Chadron State College-Nebraska, graduating in May 2017.

Valerie is an enthusiastic educator, champion for students, and a lifelong learner who places relationships as a top priority. Valerie makes sure to greet every student outside the door with a smile and a genuine “How are you?” followed by a warm “I’m so glad to see you today!” Valerie attends extra-curricular activities of students and believes seeing students during soccer, gymnastics, football, karate, rodeos, and wrestling positively impacts student teacher relationships and strengthens the parent-school connection immensely.

Goal setting and celebrating student growth are an everyday occurrence in Valerie’s carefully cultivated classroom community built on trust, hardwork, and a growth mindset. She believes every student can grow, achieve at high levels, and nurturing student belief in themselves is her daily goal. Valerie focuses on fostering a love of reading, inspiring the craft of writing, and thinking about your thinking. Students refer to themselves as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, thinkers, and friends who identify as a group of learners working toward individual goals.


  • 2018 Sara Reed, Hillcrest Elementary
  • 2017 Ryan Fuhrman, Sheridan Junior High School
  • 2016 Amy Pierson, Cloud Peak Elementary
  • 2015 Tyler Bartlett, Newcastle Middle School
  • 2014 Mick Wiest, Fort Mackenzie
  • 2013 Laura Drake, Goins Elementary
  • 2012 Hebert “Brent” Daly, Campbell County High School
  • 2011 Laurie Graves, Big Horn Elementary
  • 2010 Christina Mills, Lingle-Ft. Laramie High School
  • 2009 Alice King, Campbell County High School
  • 2008 Eileen Johnson, Indian Paintbrush Elementary
  • 2007 Mark Nethercott, Star Valley High School
  • 2006 Carol Kirkwood, Laramie High School
  • 2005 Debi Gaines, Saratoga Elementary
  • 2004 Jack Patrick, Saratoga High School
  • 2003 Eric Stemle, Evanston High School
  • 2002 Marcia Patton, Kelly Walsh High School
  • 2001 Cindy Gulisano, Lingle-Ft. Laramie Elementary School
  • 2000 Bernie Schnorenberg, Sundance Elementary School
  • 1999 June Vialpando Moore, Beitel Elementary School
  • 1998 Mary Ellen Krisko, Worland Middle School
  • 1997 Kevin Tennant, Campbell County High School
  • 1996 Pamela Moore, Aspen Elementary School
  • 1995 Joan Brummond, Afflerbach Elementary School
  • 1994 Sharon Yovich, Thayer Elementary School
  • 1993 Judith McBride, Slade Elementary School
  • 1992 Joan Marie, Barker Green River High School
  • 1991 Bette Sample, Gertrude Burns Elementary School
  • 1990 Rod Laird, Saratoga Elementary & Middle School
  • 1989 Mark Levitt, Green River High School
  • 1988 Janice Truchot, Sundance Elementary School
  • 1987 Lois Distad, Bar Nunn Elementary School
  • 1986 Mercine Miller, Tongue River Elementary School
  • 1985 Robert Meredith, Shoshoni High School
  • 1984 Charlotte Levendosky, Crest Hill Elementary School
  • 1983 Ann Tollefson, Natrona County High School
  • 1982 Robert Hilgenfeld, East Junior High School
  • 1981 Lois Sackman, Riverton High School
  • 1980 Elizabeth Shelton, Big Horn High School
  • 1979 Mignon Hill, Laramie Elementary Schools
  • 1978 Steve Campbell, Ashgrove Elementary School
  • 1977 Jeanne Curran, Rock Springs East Junior High School
  • 1976 Rosaleee Ammons, Osage Elementary School
  • 1975 Margaret Mecca, Hot Springs County High School
  • 1974 Maxine Torbert, Sheridan High School
  • 1973 Helen Meldrum, Buffalo High School
  • 1972 Margaret Blacker, Laramie High School
  • 1971 William Malloy, Thermopolis Elementary & Junior High School
  • 1970 Janette Plott, Central Junior High School, Sheridan WY
  • 1969 Karl Allen, Hot Springs County High School
  • 1968 Helen Kienlan, Elementary
  • 1967 Ann Halseth, Yellow Tone School, Rocksprings
  • 1966 Pearl Bader, Ten Sleep Elementary School
  • 1965 Lawrence Bays, Wheatland High School
  • 1964 Letha Dickinson, Riverton Elementary School

2020 District TOTYs

  • Jennifer Sheaffer – Albany County School District #1
  • Elisha Summers – Big Horn County School District #1
  • Joshua Sanders – Big Horn County School District #2
  • Michael Blissett – Big Horn County School District #3
  • Jennifer Farnes – Campbell County School District #1
  • Dustin Grant – Carbon County School District #1
  • Shelly Cooper – Carbon County School District #2
  • Christine A Collins – Converse County School District #1
  • Misty Atnip – Fremont County School District #1
  • Lori Sincavage – Fremont County School District #2
  • Brian Harms – Goshen County School District #1
  • Nichole Ciz – Hot Springs County School District #1
  • Carol Ruby – Johnson County School District #1
  • Kim Parfitt – Laramie County School District #1
  • Christina Nusbaum – Laramie County School District #2
  • Denise Frazier – Lincoln County School District #2
  • Brent Rose – Natrona County School District #1
  • Jane Woods – Park County School District #1
  • Ryan W. Beardall – Park County School District #6
  • Perry Flom – Park County School District #16
  • Brice McIntosh – Platte County School District #1
  • Matt Hebbert – Platte County School District #2
  • Molly Stamenkovic – Sheridan County School District #1
  • Isaac VanDyke – Sheridan County School District #2
  • Rose Robertson – Sublette County School District #1
  • Cara Olson – Sublette County School District #9
  • David Galindo – Sweetwater County School District #1
  • Bradlee Skinner – Sweetwater County School District #2
  • Sheena Dhamsania – Teton County School District #1
  • Barbara Jefferis – Uinta County School District #1
  • Jim Dolezal – Uinta County School District #4
  • Dane Weaver – Washakie County School District #2
  • Aletha Womack – Weston County School District #7

2019 District TOTYs

  • Fredrick Pannell, Albany County School District #1
  • Lynne Ann Sanders, Big Horn County School District #1
  • Dawn Thur, Big Horn County School District #3
  • Valerie Bruce, Campbell County School District #1
  • Anthony Lucero, Carbon County School District #1
  • Emily Haught, Converse County School District #1
  • Miranda Haskell, Converse County School District #2
  • Lisa Moss, Fremont County School District #1
  • Malia Qureshi, Fremont County School District #2
  • Stephen Hart, Goshen County School District #1
  • Aimee Kay, Hot Springs County School District #1
  • Mary Odenbach, Johnson County School District #1
  • Dustin Lee, Laramie County School District #2
  • Tracey Sorenson, Lincoln County School District #2
  • Cheryl Junge, Natrona County School District #1
  • Necole Hanks, Park County School District #1
  • Audra Wood, Park County School District #6
  • Renee McKain, Platte County School District #1
  • Sonja Brown, Platte County School District #2
  • Justin Kidneigh, Sheridan County School District #1
  • Katie Medill, Sheridan County School District #2
  • Gregory Bell, Sublette County School District #9
  • John Cundall, Sweetwater County School District #1
  • Genny Luckau, Sweetwater County School District #2
  • Michelle Rooks, Teton County School District #1
  • Anna Deru, Uinta County School District #4
  • Kenna Lamb, Washakie County School District #1
  • Ross Hauptman, Washakie County School District #2
  • Joseph Samuelson, Weston County School District #7

2018 District TOTYs

  • Andrew Taylor, Lincoln County School District #2
  • Brent Moser, Converse County School District #1
  • Chelsea Kuhn, Albany County School District #1
  • Christel Griffin, Laramie County School District #1
  • Colter Brantz, Sheridan County School District #1
  • Dennis Howell, Natrona County School District #1
  • Heather Babb, Fremont County School District #1
  • James R. Gilman, Park County School District #1
  • Jana Bjelkevig, Platte County School District #1
  • Jane Bushnell, Big Horn County School District #2
  • Janet Lee, Fremont County School District #2
  • Jason Groene, Goshen County School District #1
  • Jenelle Larson, Carbon County School District #1
  • Jenna Banks, Sublette County School District #9
  • Jennifer Hayward, Sublette County School District #1
  • Kari Pavey, Johnson County School District #1
  • Karrie Preuit, Washakie County School District #1
  • Lex Cornia, Uinta County School District #1
  • Lisa Gingery, Teton County School District #1
  • Lynnette Forcella, Big Horn County School District #3
  • Nick Johnson, Weston County School District #7
  • Nicki Erickson, Washakie County School District #2
  • Peggy Anderson, Platte County School District #2
  • Reagan Kaufman, Laramie County School District #1
  • Ryan Collier, Converse County School District #2
  • Sara Reed, Campbell County School District #1
  • Stephanie Czarobski, Hot Springs County School District #1
  • Tennyson Draney, Uinta County School District #1
  • Tiana Lee, Park County School District #6
  • Wanda Theobald, Laramie County School District #2

2017 District TOTYs

  • Aftann Kissling, Fremont County School District #24
  • Angela Ochsner, Goshen County School District #1
  • Brandi Boltz, Washakie County School District #2
  • Candace Stoll, Converse County School District #2
  • Casey Bowe, Big Horn County School District #3
  • Catelyn Deromedi, Hot Springs County School District #1
  • Christopher Cox, Johnson County School District #1
  • Dale Wille, Carbon County School District #1
  • Dana Gale, Platte County School District #1
  • Dirk Andrews, Natrona County School District #1
  • Dr. Jennifer Mellizo, Albany County School District #1
  • Elizabeth Becher, Washakie County School District #1
  • Jerod Ready, Park County School District #6
  • Jessica Mae Finn, Weston County School District #7
  • Jessica Marron, Park County School District #16
  • Kathryn Watson, Platte County School District #2
  • Katie Hernandez, Big Horn County School District #2
  • Laurel Main, Sheridan County School District #1
  • Lucinda McGeary, Campbell County School District #1
  • Mitch Irrgang, Sublette County School District #1
  • Rachel Giesmann, Fremont County School District #1
  • Rhonda Morrison, Laramie County School District #2
  • Rita Perkins, Uinta County School District #6
  • Robin Miller, Teton County School District #1
  • Robyn Wilkinson, Converse County School District #1
  • Rosemary Graff, Fremont County School District #2
  • Shane Steiss, Sweetwater County School District #2
  • Shannon Blackmore, Park County School District #1
  • Shirley Hall, Lincoln County School District #2
  • Terry McCrann, Sweetwater County School District #1

2020 Teacher of the Year Applications

District Teacher of the Year (DTOTY) applicants must complete their own application and submit it to the WDE. The TOY program guidelines are included in the application. In order to be eligible for the Wyoming Teacher of the Year (WTOTY), the DTOTY must be “continuing in active teaching status” through the end of 2020.

The 2020 WTOTY will be selected from the pool of Wyoming DTOTYs and will be announced in the fall of 2019. Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year automatically becomes a nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.

For more information:  2020 TOTY Application Information

The entire application package must be electronically submitted no later than Friday, May 31, 2019.

Click here to submit the 2020 TOTY Application.

Duties & Responsibilities of the Wyoming Teacher of the Year

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

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

The Teacher of the Year 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 Wyoming Teacher of the Year is also expected to attend both state and national events such as education meetings, conferences, and workshops. 

Since the Wyoming Teacher of the Year 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.

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

WTOTY Selection Process

All applications received by the deadline will go to the WDE selection panel for review. Scoring of each application will be based on the 2020 TOTY Rubric. The selection panel will individually score each application. The TOY Coordinator will compile all scores to have the top five applications become finalists.

Finalists will need to submit a video of them teaching with the guidelines listed below. Please note that this step is only for those who make it to the top five.

The Finalists will also be schedule 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.

The selection panel will score both the finalist videos and interviews individually. Again, scores will be combined to select the Wyoming Teacher of the Year. If there is a tie, the selection panel will meet to discuss and choose a winner.

Finalist Teaching Video

The top three (3) finalists will be required to submit a video of them teaching. The video should demonstrate the teacher’s instructional ability. Videos will be scored by the selection panel using this rubric.

Teaching Video Lesson

  • The video should not exceed 30 minutes in length.
  • Videos may be edited.
  • Begin the video stating the lesson objective and expected outcomes.
  • Showcase a segment where student learning is maximized.
  • Include evidence of teacher instruction and student work.
  • Include the lessons closure.
  • Have fun!

Video Lesson and Upload

  • Before filming, collect student video waivers to keep on file at the school.
  • Identify someone with suitable videotaping skills (ask your IT or communications Department for help).
  • Conduct a trial run, if possible, to test audio and video quality.
  • Create video, edit, and upload the video link, preferably to YouTube. (Be sure video link is marked private. It is encouraged to have a friend test the link before submitting.)
  • Submit the link to the WDE TOY Coordinator at robin.grandpre1@wyo.gov.

2020 Teacher of the Year Timeline and Selection Process*

TimelineDescription
By a deadline established by your local school districtSubmit this application to the point person(s) who facilitates the TOY program in your district.
May 31, 2019Each DTOTY submits the online application to the WDE. All applicants become candidates for the WTOTY award.
June 1 through September 2019WDE Team moves through its selection process for WTOTY.
No later than October 2, 2019Each participating district announces its DTOTY awardee. The local school district may choose to announce its DTOTY any time before this date but no later than this date.

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

No later than October 9, 20192020 WTOTY awardee is announced by the WDE.
November 2019Monetary awards for the top three (3) DTOTYs finalists are processed*

*Award amounts are contingent upon availability of state funding.

October 31, 2019Application for the National Teacher of the Year (NTOTY) award is due. This is submitted by the WDE on behalf of the WTOTY.
December 2019The National Selection Committee moves through its selection process for NTOTY.
December 2019Four NTOTY 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 2020The four NTOTY 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 2020The 2020 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 Teach 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
robin.grandpre1@wyo.gov
307-777-5315