SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 60
April 24, 1998
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Virginia Teacher Named 1998 National Teacher of the Year|
Virginia's 1998 Teacher of the Year, Mr. B. Philip Bigler, has just received the nation's top teaching honor. He has just been named the 1998 National Teacher of the Year. In making this special announcement I indicated that, "all Virginians should be very proud that our teachers are represented by such an esteemed educator." Bigler was selected from four national finalists by the National Selection Committee who reviewed candidates' applications from the fifty states and the District of Columbia and conducted two days of interviews with the final four. A 19-year teaching veteran, Bigler is a history and social studies teacher at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County. He was chosen the Fairfax County Teacher of the Year for 1997, represented the northern Virginia region in the state teacher of the year competition, and was chosen as the top teacher for Virginia at a special dinner and celebration held in Richmond in October 1997. Known as a powerful and dynamic classroom teacher, Bigler has published several books and educational materials and has made special appearances on "Nightline" with Ted Koppel, CNN "Live with Sonya" (commentary for the funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), and CBS Newsmark with Charles Osgood, "Where Valor Proudly Sleeps." Among his many honors are the Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award for 1997 and the University of Chicago's Outstanding Teacher Award in 1990. Guided by the axiom that "the only thing new in life is the history that you don't know," Bigler believes that books are to the historian what test tubes are to the scientist. He believes that computer technology plays an exciting and valid role in the classroom but that students who cannot read receive little benefit from them. He tries to convince students that there is nobility and dignity in spending an occasional Saturday night at home with a book. Bigler agrees that public schools are facing many challenges. He believes, however, that quality education cannot be mandated and that every teacher has a professional responsibility to take an active role in improving the quality of public education. He holds that there is no nobler or significant occupation than teaching and affirms that we must restore academic rigor and student responsibility to our classrooms. He states, "in reality, our schools are just empty, impersonal places. It is the principals, the teachers, and the students who bring them to life and give them an identity." His former school superintendent and school board chair issued the following statement upon learning of his selection as the Virginia Teacher of the Year, " Philip Bigler is a model educator and a truly gifted teacher. He is a powerful, dynamic, and charismatic presence in the classroom. His wealth of knowledge, his warmth and caring, and his clear values have earned him the respect of students and colleagues alike. He has established a philosophy that enables him to reach children in a special way, which reflects his belief that all children should have the opportunity to learn, to enjoy, and to participate in history." On Friday, April 24, President Clinton hosted a special White House recognition ceremony honoring all 1998 state teachers of the year at which time Mr. Bigler was officially introduced to the nation as the 1998 National Teacher of the Year. If you would like to have Mr. Bigler participate in professional development opportunities in your school division, please contact Mr. Jon Quam, Director, National Teacher of the Year Program at (202) 336-7047 after July 1, 1998. Prior to July 1, you may contact the Department's Office of Teacher Education and Licensure at (804) 371-2522. PDS/tae c: Deans and Directors of Teacher Education Programs Special Note: Mary V. Bicouvaris, government and international relations teacher at Bethel High School, Hampton, Va was the first Virginia National Teacher of the Year in 1989. Ms. Bicouvaris has since retired from the public schools and currently serves on the teacher preparation faculty at Christopher Newport University.