Only on "CBS This Morning," Nevada special education and elementary teacher Juliana Urtubey is revealed as the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.
- Only on CBS This Morning we are so psyched to reveal the 2021 National Teacher of The Year. Exceptional educator she is, or he is, chosen by the nonprofit Council of Chief State School Officers. This year's finalists include teachers from Utah, Washington D.C., North Carolina, and Nevada. Look at that list. I remember when we profiled these guys and the 2021 National Teacher of The Year, drum roll please Tony and Anthony. Juliana Urtubey of Las Vegas!
- Known to her school and community, there she is, look at you as, as "Ms. Earth," she uses a garden to teach and connect with her students, many of whom are English language learners. Juliana Urtubey is with us, congratulations Juliana. Stand by for just a second, we're going to come right back to you, but first we spoke to several of your former students and their families about what you've done, the difference you've made for them.
JOSEPH MORENO: I would describe Ms. Urtubey as kind hearted, all knowing, fun yet also sort of serious when it comes to our behavior.
VANESSA YAPCHING: She's kind and sometimes she tells us a joke.
- She was a good leader and she would just teach us things in a different way that other people wouldn't.
- She was also a teacher that cared a lot. She didn't just see the students as students, she saw them as more than that.
- She always just reminded me of Miss Frizzle from "The Magic School Bus."
- Good morning, class.
- Miss Frizzle!
- She even had the little earrings that Miss Frizzle had.
- One of the things that I love the most is I love learning in the garden.
- The "garden gnomies," that was the name of us back then. The "garden gnomies," we all cared about that garden.
VANESSA YAPCHING: It was a bit like a dream. There's some butterflies around and ladybugs.
JOSEPH MORENO: I think it just changed my life knowing what could be done when it comes to taking care and protecting our social and economical environment.
JULIANA URTUBEY: Ah! Who taught you that? Where did you learn that?
- She should be like the example of what a great teacher should be.
VANESSA YAPCHING: She was the best teacher.
BELEM VARGAS: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
- She just wants to say thank you for everything, taking care of all the kids, and just looking out for everybody.
ALEJANDRA MONTOYA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
- Juliana Urtubey is back with us. Good morning and congratulations to you, Ms. Urtubey. Listen, it's clear that teachers can change the world, change lives, the students clearly love you. Why do you love teaching so much?
JULIANA URTUBEY: I get to be part of a whole new world with so many students. I haven't seen so many of those students in such a long time, so it's so beautiful. Oh, I'm just so excited.
- I know, but look at the difference you've made in their lives and this has been a really challenging year for teachers this year. How are you holding up and still doing it?
JULIANA URTUBEY: It really has been incredible and they've made that same kind of impact in my life. It's been tough. It's been a hard year. We've been through a lot of loss and--
- We have, Juliana.
JULIANA URTUBEY: We're here though. We're here and we're doing well, and we're doing our best to stay connected.
- Well listen, we're not the only ones that wanted to congratulate you. We have a very special guest for you. If you could put your mask back on so we can follow social distancing, they're going to come in the room.
JULIANA URTUBEY: OK.
- They're going to come in the room, they wanted to be there personally to say congratulations.
JULIANA URTUBEY: Oh my God!
- Oh my God. Juliana Urtubey, meet Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Jill Biden meet Dr. Juliana Urtubey.
JILL BIDEN: [INAUDIBLE]
- You know what we're going to do? We're going to go to break, we're going to get them socially distanced.
- Oh my god.
- And we're going to put a mic on Dr. Biden so we can all hear what she just said.
- I think she said congratulations.
- Congratulations, she came with flowers. So guys, we're going to take a break and we'll come back with a conversation.
- Oh my gosh.
- Oh, I love it. Dr. Biden and Juliana Urtubey. We'll be right back.