Highlights from Amy Jo Meiners, AK Teacher of the Year Speech


  • From Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Tonight, I want to encourage each of you to share your light.
  • There are several factors that influenced me to become a teacher. First, I grew up in a home that encouraged me to work hard, help others, and follow my passions.
  • Mrs. Cesar was different. She was firm, consistent, and let us know daily that we were precious. She taught us math through sewing quilts and cooking. She brought in elders to share the art of carving and beading as we learned more through stories. We wrote about our experiences. Learning was important and it was fun. We worked hard for her because she demanded we do our best.
  • Ms. Libby’s classroom was print-rich and fully integrated with the students’ interests. Attendance was high because the students were excited to come learn each day. I still remember how their eyes would light up with some new discovery they had made as though they were the first person to have this knowledge. These first-grade students produced plays about animals they had researched and performed in front of the school. They saw themselves as writers, as performers, as a team, as important learners. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of this learning. I wanted to work hard, to help others, and to passionately share learning.
  • Change isn’t easy, and sometimes even the discussions are beyond uncomfortable; however, change is inevitable and we are better served if we approach it as a positive, learning opportunity.
  • There are many outstanding employees throughout Alaskan schools, and I want us to collectively start sharing our stories about the noble adventure that is education. If we want to encourage those who can to come join us and be a part of the world of education, if we want to encourage retention of new staff, we need to give voice to the joy of our work.
  • I’m inspired by the teacher next door. Her name is Allison Neussl and I hope you get the chance to teach with her or teach with someone like her. She is fresh out of college and eager to try out all she has learned in her teacher training, and more than that, she has a keen sense of intuition to help her quickly identify students’ needs and what she needs to do to scaffold their learning.
  • our profession is an honorable, exciting, ever-changing career choice and we need to encourage and support those around us. I encourage you to take the time to share your story, share your light.
  • You make a difference.

About JEA

Juneau Education Association (JEA) is an affiliate of NEA-Alaska and the National Education Association. JEA's purpose is: a) To represent its members in their relations with their employer. b) To develop and promote the professional interests and concerns of the members. c) To promote professional attitudes and ethical conduct among teachers. d) To work for the welfare of school children, the advancement of education, and the improvement of instructional opportunities for all. e) To encourage teachers to exercise their rights and privileges as citizens and to provide leadership in civil affairs. f) To hold property and funds for the attainment of Association purposes.
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