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Mount Vernon educator named state Teacher of the Year

September 12, 2018

Mount Vernon High School teacher Robert Hand helps students build a tiny house for the poor in March 2017 as part of a class project.

MOUNT VERNON — A Mount Vernon teacher has been named the state Teacher of the Year.

Robert Hand, who teaches family and consumer sciences at Mount Vernon High School, was one of nine regional teachers nominated for the annual honor by their local educational service districts.

He was named teacher of the year at a Monday ceremony in Seattle by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.

“It’s surreal,” Hand said Monday afternoon.

Hand was originally nominated as a regional teacher for Educational Service District 189 — which serves Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan and Snohomish counties — by a student.

“It was a surprise,” he said. “I’m not out to get recognition.”

He said when he read the email announcing his nomination and the accompanying letter written by a student, he cried at his desk.

“Mr. Hand got to know my struggles and did what a lot of other teachers didn’t: He actually acknowledged them,” the student wrote in her nomination letter, according to Reykdal’s office. “After this, he didn’t lower his expectations of me because he knew I was as capable as any other student who had the privileges I didn’t.”

Hand has taught at Mount Vernon High School since 2013.

Hand is now in the running for national Teacher of the Year, which is awarded in spring by the Council of Chief State School Officers at the White House.

This year’s national Teacher of the Year was Spokane teacher Mandy Manning.

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