Dana Miles, a teacher at the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver, has been named the 2023 Washington State Teacher of the Year.
Miles received the award from State Superintendent Chris Reykdal at the 2022 Educator Awards Ceremony on Monday afternoon, who praised the “phenomenal” work Miles does to prepare her students for life after high school.
“What’s valuable to me is education and access (for) individuals and breaking down those barriers that are before them,” said Miles, who delivered her acceptance speech in American Sign Language. “I can’t forget the students, they are my ‘why.’ They’re the ones who have helped me, who have been that burning, bright light that I carry forward.”
Miles, who is a part of the Deaf community, has been a teacher for 11 years and has spent the last six years teaching Work Experience and Applied Bilingual Language Arts at the Washington School for the Deaf.
In Miles’ classes, in which she teaches English and American Sign Language interchangeably, students learn skills such as resume writing and understanding workplace benefits, as well as learning how to understand their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Self-advocacy benefits all students from all walks of life,” said Miles in a written statement. “I am passionate about seeing my students develop self-advocacy skills because these skills will carry them far in life.”
Miles will now move forward to the competition for the National Teacher of the Year award, the winner of which will be announced in Spring 2023.
Veronica Gonzalez, a multilingual student/family liaison at Mount Vernon High School, was also honored during the ceremony, winning the award for 2022 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year.
In this role, Gonzalez supports students who are migratory and/or multilingual and their families with preparing for their futures.
“Veronica is highly sought and respected as a community leader and a great example to young Latin(a) female students on what hard work can achieve,” said David Moreno, who is both a former student and a parent of a current student of Gonzalez’. “She has done an amazing job ensuring that generations of students become the leaders of today.”
Gonzalez has worked at the school for 27 years and also set up a food pantry that provided 3,500 meals to 375 families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
She will now compete for the national Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) award, administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
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