Classcraft's Innovative Teachers of the Year 2019

Teacher Appreciation Week 2019: Classcraft honors 19 innovative educators

Teachers. They are supportive and engaging, thoughtful and inspiring. They have the ability to spark curiosity. To challenge us to overcome barriers. To shape us into who we will become. Teachers change lives and Classcraft loves them for it!

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week 2019 (May 6-10), we invited students and teachers to tell us about an inspiring educator in their life, then vote on their favorite nominee.

We received over 220 teacher nominations and tallied more than 2,000 votes that helped us shortlist 15 innovative educators. From the finalists, we’re recognizing four special teachers: Deborah Turner, Ryan Ragland, Jener Miranda, and Sarah Michaelis.

To thank them for all the great work they are doing, we’ve turned these teachers into real-life superheroes with their own unique Gamemaster avatars. And, to immortalize their hero status, our talented illustrators have featured these teachers on a limited edition poster alongside 12 Quest of the Month teachers.

Classcraft's Innovative Teachers of the Year 2019 and Quest of the Month educators.
Classcraft’s Innovative Teachers of the Year 2019 and Quest of the Month educators.

Check out our Innovative Teachers of the Year for 2019, their amazing custom avatars, and get to know these awesome educators!

Classcraft’s Innovative Teachers of the Year Award Winners

Deborah Turner — Los Coches Creek Middle School, California

Gamemaster Deborah Turner
Gamemaster Deborah Turner

Los Coches Creek Middle School (@CajonValleyUSD) students nominated teacher Deborah Turner because she’s kind, hard-working, understanding, and fun!

One of the ways she blends hard work and fun in her grade 6 history class is with Classcraft. And her student’s reaction has astonished Turner: unmotivated classmates completed their assignments, those who struggled with behavioral issues responded well, and, “the best part,” was seeing productive teamwork.

“I was always a rows teacher, seven silent rows of students quietly doing their work or participating in instruction was my goal,” Turner explained. “No longer! When all the students in one of my teams kept falling in battle every day, for a week, the entire class learned the importance of healing and protecting each other. That has bled into a more positive atmosphere in my classes.

“Every day we do a random event, and the results are hilarious! It is such a great way to start our period together. The analytics I use as a way to track behavioral issues. It is effective documentation to alert parents and administration of student behavioral needs and struggles. Can I just say, the Volume Meter is brilliant! They are able to work together, in teams, on collaborative projects, without blowing out my eardrums, and this keeps them in check. It makes them accountable for and willing to keep the volume at a reasonable level. XP is amazing!

“Many of my students say I’m their favorite teacher. I have to give Classcraft some of the credit for this. You’ve may my classroom fun, not only for the kids, but for me, too! Thank you so much!”

For Turner, this award is a nod to a teacher who inspired her, Mr. Jan Rosell. Her 6th-grade teacher cultivated her “love of reading, which led to a love of learning, which led to a love of teaching.”

3. Ryan Ragland — Charles F. Patton Middle School, Pennsylvania

Gamemaster Ryan Ragland
Gamemaster Ryan Ragland

Ask Ryan Ragland students what they like best about the Charles F. Patton Middle School (@PattonHawks) teacher, and they’ll tell you his ability to make his grade 6 science class amazingly fun!

The teacher in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is working hard to ensure his students don’t share his childhood school experience of not feeling engaged, challenged, or interested in what’s being taught. It’s what drove Ragland to become a teacher in the first place: to change the dynamic and make “education and teaching more relevant, meaningful, and engaging.”

As part of that effort, Ragland used incentive-based point systems in his classroom but says Classcraft has taken it to a whole other level.

“Classcraft allowed me to transform that system and bring it to life,” Ragland said. “I’m amazed at how excited my kids are to use it. The effect hasn’t worn off even during the course of the school year. I’m constantly getting notifications that they’re logged in after school hours, or on the weekends, using skills/abilities which says everything I need to know about how into using it they are.”

Jener Miranda — John Adams Middle School, California

Gamemaster Jener Miranda
Gamemaster Jener Miranda

Funny. Generous. Supportive. Understanding. These are just a few of the many qualities Jener Miranda’s students used to describe the John Adams Middle School (@SMMUSD) teacher.

Miranda became a teacher because of the positive impact his middle and high school teachers had on him. He prides himself on being a good role model for kids in his grades 7-8 English and journalism classes in San Diego, California.

“I think of [my teachers] fondly and how they made me feel every time I walked into their classroom,” said Miranda. “Being a shy kid, they made me feel safe, heard, and confident — I wanted to do the same for other kids. In my classroom, I provide a warm atmosphere where students can freely express themselves in their writing, speaking, and thinking. I also want them to enjoy the process of learning, being curious, collaborating with others, and the feeling of discovery so that they carry it with them throughout their adulthood, the way my favorite teachers made feel about learning.”

After teaching for a decade, Miranda is constantly working to improve lessons and instruction and cultivate positive relationships with his students. Classcraft is a part of his journey.

“The impact Classcraft has made in my classroom is priceless … Students have shown an incredible amount of kindness to their peers, supporting each other when needed, offering help, being team players, behaving properly when substitute teachers are covering my classes, and it’s made my classroom more fun.

“When my kids are having fun, it makes my day more enjoyable. And if I’m going to be teaching for another 20 years, Classcraft will be right there with me.”

Sarah Michaelis — Waikoloa School, Hawaii

Gamemaster Sarah Michaelis
Gamemaster Sarah Michaelis

Sarah Michaelis loves being a teacher and teaching middle school. Nominated for her positivity and ability to make every student feel special, it’s obvious that even after 22 years of teaching, the Waikoloa School (@WaikoloaL) educator still brings that passion into her classroom.

One of the tools Michaelis uses to connect with her grades 6-8 music and computer students and invigorate her class is Classcraft.

“I consider myself a pretty ‘fun’ teacher, but Classcraft has taken our gaming to a new level,” Michaelis said. “The relationships between students has improved, the teamwork each day, the excitement students have to see our daily ‘event’ and weekly challenges has brought the energy level in my class to a whole new level. The students take such pride in their avatars and game achievements, and my behavior challenges are virtually non-existent (what more could a teacher ask for?).”

Classcraft’s Innovative Teachers of the Year Finalists

We’d like to congratulate all our finalists for being rockstars in the classroom. It was a pleasure to read all the wonderful supporting comments from your students and colleagues! Here are our amazing finalists:

Name: Brittany Bishop (@BishopbLTMS)
School: Lake Travis Middle School (@LakeTravisMS)
Grades: 6
Subjects: Science

Name: Ann Case
School: Brandon Middle School (@RankinSchools)
Grades: 7
Subjects: Science

Name: Erica Henderson
School: Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy (@JoseMartiMAST)
Grades: 6 to 12
Subjects: Calculus

Name: Jessica Hughes
School: Samuel M. Inman Middle School (@APSInman)
Grades: 6
Subjects: Science

Name: Terron James (@Terron_James)
School: Excelsior Academy
Grades: 6 to 8
Subjects: English Language Arts and digital literacy

Name: Kyle Johnson
School: Valor Academy Middle School (@brightstrschool)
Grades: 5
Subjects: Reading

Name: Meredith Levin (@mlevin324)
School: Marlton Middle School
Grades: 8
Subjects: Special Education, reading, writing, social studies, science, and math

Name: David López (@dalopevi)
School: Colegio Marista San José, Logroño (@maristaslogrono)
Grades: Year 3
Subjects: Spanish, P.E., and religion

Name: Jeff Noonan (@noonan_jeff)
School: École Vision Beauce
Grades: 4
Subjects: Homeroom teacher and ICT manager

Name: T.J. Schmitt (@tj_schmitt)
School: Barnesville High School
Grades: 7 and 10
Subjects: Life science

Name: Beth Utley
School: Naaba Ani Elementary School
Grades: 5
Subjects: Math, reading, writing. science, and social studies

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