Amy with Dr. Taylor

Amy with Dr. Taylor.

OCEAN CITY -- American Sign Language teacher whose community engagement efforts have made Ocean City, New Jersey the “deaf-friendly” town of South Jersey, Amy T. Andersen, has been selected as one of four teachers as a finalist for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

Amy T. Andersen, a National Board-Certified Teacher, believes that a nurturing classroom fosters academic achievement.

Amy started her career in Boston as a teacher of the deaf for eight years and she promoted strength in diversity. She celebrated students' differences by organizing field trips to various schools in Boston where her students presented to hearing children about American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf culture. In 2004, Amy moved to New Jersey and began the American Sign Language program at Ocean City High School with 42 hearing students. Enrollment jumped to 138 students and today, she teaches ASL 1, ASL 2 and ASL 3 Honors. In 2015, her program was highlighted on an Emmy-award winning program when her students’ ASL anti-bullying video went viral.

Amy takes students beyond the classroom by arranging paint nights with world-renowned deaf artists and signing opportunities with the National Association of the Deaf. She reinforces that every voice has value and it's our human right to communicate. ASL is an integral part of Ocean City because Amy has galvanized the entire community into becoming the “deaf-friendly” town of South Jersey. Amy’s students often pursue deaf education. Her students have interpreted for Michelle Obama and Madonna.

“Amy T. Andersen, has devoted her professional career to creating a classroom environment that ensures that each student finds their voice, finds their passion and finds their path in making the school and community all that much better,” said Ocean City Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor. “Ms. Andersen has single-handedly grown the American Sign Language (ASL) Program into both one of the most popular Ocean City High School academic programs and into an exemplary world language program for the region and state.

Ms. Andersen is an outstanding educational leader and I am very proud of Amy and all that she has achieved both in and out of the classroom. As one of the 2018, National Teachers of the Year finalists, Ms. Andersen will serve as a spokesperson for how the teaching profession can truly influence the views and actions of the next generation. She has empowered many of our Ocean City students to discover how they will make their own difference in the world. Now, Amy has the opportunity to reach and inspire students across the nation.”

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), identifies exceptional teachers nationwide, celebrates their effective work in and outside of the classroom, amplifies their voices and empowers them to take part in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, a national selection committee representing 14 renowned education and community organizations, which collectively represent millions of educators, selects four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year is then selected from the four finalists after rigorous in-person interviews with the selection committee.

Upon selecting the four finalists, the NTOY selection committee released the following statement:

“The four finalists for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year stand at the intersection of policy, advocacy and practice. They exemplify the highest levels of teaching, innovation, and leadership, and have demonstrated a commitment to students and public education. These State Teachers of the Year capture the spirit and passion of America’s teachers. Any of them would do an outstanding job as the profession’s ambassador.”

Each year, since 1952, the President of the United States has recognized the National Teacher of the Year in a White House ceremony in the spring.

The other three finalists include:

Kara Ball, an elementary educator who uses project-based learning in her STEM curriculum to cultivate curiosity in her students.

Jonathan Juravich, an elementary art teacher who used a community painting project to demonstrate the power of the visual arts to engage, communicate, and bring people together.

Mandy Manning, is the first teacher in the U.S. for her refugee and immigrant students. She uses experiential projects to help her students process trauma and learn about their new community.

One of the finalists will be named the 2018 National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) this spring, and will spend the next year traveling the country to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers and students.