Five Facts About Missy Testerman, the 2024 National Teacher of the Year

Missy Testerman boasts an extensive teaching career, spanning over 30 years in first- and second-grade classrooms, well beyond the norm.

Recognizing the diverse influx of families from Mexico, Central America, and Asia into her school district in rural Appalachia, she made a transition to teach English as a second language. This shift aimed to facilitate her students’ and their families’ adaptation to life in the U.S.

The pivotal role her students play in their families as translators necessitates their acquisition of English. Testerman emphasized this, stating, “So their exposure to the language and their learning the language actually opens up doors and possibilities for their families.”

Recently, Testerman was crowned the 2024 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

In her new role as Teacher of the Year, she will embark on a year-long journey across the U.S. as a representative of the teaching profession. Her message aims to encourage fellow educators to advocate for their students and colleagues, as shared with The74.

Announced as the top teacher among a competitive field of three other finalists, Testerman stands out for her dedication to ESL education and her commitment to students’ integration and success.

First Lady Jill Biden revealed to Testerman and the other finalists and state-level teachers of the year that they would be honored with a unique experience of a state dinner at the White House, marking a departure from the traditional diplomatic-oriented events.

Educated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master of Arts in reading education from East Tennessee State University, Testerman serves at Rogersville City School, a K-8 establishment in a quaint farming town of approximately 4,500 residents, located 250 miles east of Nashville. She takes on the roles of ESL specialist, ESL program director, summer programs coordinator, mentor teacher, and member of the teacher leadership team in the Rogersville district.

Notably, Testerman joins the ranks of previous ESL teachers who have received the esteemed top-teacher accolade, underscoring the importance of ESL education in diverse settings.

Unveil five intriguing facets about Testerman below:

1. Consistent Dedication in Rural East Tennessee

Embodying a lifelong commitment to teaching, Testerman, aged 53, has dedicated a remarkable 33 years to teaching in her solitary tenure at Rogersville, situated in rural East Tennessee.

Describing the picturesque locale as resembling a “Hallmark postcard,” Testerman expressed her enduring passion for teaching and highlighted the joy it continues to bring her.

2. Transition to ESL from Classroom Teaching

Transitioning from three decades of teaching first and second grades, Testerman ventured into the realms of ESL, augmenting her expertise with an ESL endorsement through Tennessee’s Grow Your Own program, with a vision to advocate for immigrant students and families in Rogersville.

Ensuring the assimilation and active participation of immigrant families in the community, Testerman strives to foster acceptance through sports and various engagements, aiming to make integration smoother.

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