Wisconsin selects four Teachers of the Year (TOY) annually to represent Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, and Special Services. Through an interview process, one is selected to represent Wisconsin in the CCSSO National Teacher of the Year program. More information about the selection process: WI Teacher of the Year Selection Process
However, DPI considers all four of its TOYs as a Teacher of the Year, and does not give special designation to the one chosen to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year program.
Year of Recognition vs. Years of Service
The Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Council believes that the first year of a Teacher of the Year’s service is considered his or her “year of recognition”. During this year, the TOYs focus on being a forward-facing representative of education. Wisconsin’s Teachers of the Year remain in their classrooms and districts throughout the year while actively serving as a representative of public education. They attend several ceremonies in their honor, including recognition at the annual State of Education Address at the state capitol rotunda by the State Superintendent of Schools. They engage in ongoing professional development as a cohort, and engage in many local and statewide activities. They are frequently asked to speak at conferences or events, and each teacher designs his or her year of experience based on their interests, passion areas, experiences, expertise and content areas.
Each of the Teachers of the Year are also appointed to the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Council for five years.
After his or her “year of recognition”, a Teacher of the Year enters the “years of service”, in which their tasks become much more service-oriented. Activities include providing policy guidance and feedback; leading local, regional or statewide educational initiatives; public speaking; designing and leading professional development; acting as an advocate on key issues and topics.