COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 60
April 24, 1998

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
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.