Mandy Manning named 2018 National Teacher of the Year

Photo: Mandy Manning
Posted on 04/20/2018
Mandy Manning named 2018 National Teacher of the Year.April 20, 2018:

Ferris High School teacher Mandy Manning was recently named National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief School Officers. Manning, who had previously earned regional and state Teacher of the Year honors, teaches in the Newcomer Center at Ferris, an English Language Development (ELD) program for non-native speakers.

Her honors included a live studio appearance on CBS This Morning and a recognition ceremony at the White House.

From an earlier NEWESD 101 feature posted on July 12, 2017:

Mandy Manning was a media and film major at Eastern Washington University who never imagined her career in a classroom. She was going to be a screenwriter and producer. But then, during years of extensive travel around the nation and world, she kept hearing the same advice from disparate voices wherever she went. “You ought to be a teacher,” they said. She heard it on a first job in Shelton, Washington; again on a Peace Corps assignment in Armenia; then again while living in Texas.

All of those disparate observers saw the same thing. Even without formal training, Manning possessed the qualities of a great teacher – compassion, enthusiasm, love of learning and a great way with kids. She was a natural.

Manning heeded the call. After a master’s degree and teaching assignments in Texas, Japan and New York, she returned to her childhood home of Spokane in 2008. Three years at Lewis and Clark High School then led to a very special opportunity at Ferris High School in 2011.

There, Manning was hired to teach in the school’s Newcomer Center, an English Language Development (ELD) program for non-native speakers. The program is one of the few of its kind in the state.

In a typical semester, she will count roughly 30 students from a dozen or more nations. The only common thread is that none speak English. That, however, is very temporary.

On the first day, new students are greeted with introductions and hugs. Then the magic begins. Manning and bilingual specialist Luisa Orellana weave lessons in reading, ELD and math into larger pathways to education and opportunity.

Within a semester, most transition into traditional classrooms. Some of her early students are now in college.

Former Ferris Assistant Principal John O’Dell says Manning’s success is due, in part, to the fact her work extends beyond the classroom. “Mandy is a tireless worker for the students and families she serves,” he wrote. “This includes involvement in local refugee support organizations and countless home visits.”

“These acts of concern have a ripple effect through the classroom,” adds ELD colleague and department lead Amanda Mills. “They create an atmosphere in which students know how much she values their cultures and how invested she is in their success.”

Indeed, her students’ success has gone so wide and deep that Manning herself has received a special honor. She has been named the 2018 Teacher of the Year in the seven-county region served by NEWESD 101. With that honor comes automatic nomination for the state Teacher of the Year award.

Manning, however, doesn’t care much about personal accolades. For her, it’s all about the kids. If they are successful, she is successful. And therein lies another of the special qualities seen by those disparate observers back in the 1990s.

With all due respect to the Manning family of professional football fame, friends of Mandy say the more significant Book of Manning is the one being written in Spokane. This book is not about games on Sundays. It is about a teacher changing the world, seven days a week, one life at a time.