IU School of Education at IUPUI alum, Josh DeBard, has been selected to be in the top 3 finalists for Indiana's "Teacher of the Year" program sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).
The candidates are selected based on several criteria.
- Is an expert in their field who advances growth for students of all backgrounds and abilities;
- Builds collaborative relationships with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of equity and success;
- Deliberately connects the classroom to community to impact student growth and learning;
- As a lifelong learner and teacher leader, they utilize innovation to create learning experiences within and beyond the classroom;
- Expresses themselves in an engaging and clear way, conveying the lived classroom experience to a variety of audiences.
It's safe to say, Mr. DeBard exceeds all the expectations and more. He has spent the last four years of his teaching career at Lebanon High School as a social studies teacher.
The School of Education sent Mr. DeBard a few questions about the achievement, but more importantly, the reason why to become a teacher.
What was your reaction to learning you were a finalist for the IDOE Teacher of Year?
I was honored and surprised. I am a very critical person of myself and the work that I do. It was a healthy affirmation that I can trust myself, trust my strategies, and know that I am doing good work. I have an interview soon where I will be questioned to decide if I move on in the competition. There are so many incredible educators in this state – I am simply honored to have made it this far.
Why did you want to become a teacher?
I originally signed up to study education as a comfort. I was familiar with school and my mom thought I should think about teaching. I was somewhat lost when thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. After my freshman year at IUPUI, my experience as a part of the BRIDGE and OTEAM programs, I gained a strong passion for the work of education and making the next generation better than we were. I now view my role as an educator as an honorable civil service that is necessary to promote social change.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a student currently going through the program?
You are in great hands. The IU School of Education at IUPUI prepared me for all of the challenges that have come my way in the career. Continue to learn. Challenge yourself. Trust your professors and do the work. Get involved during your block experiences and continue to read and understand educational literature. Once your foundation is strong there, go do the work. Get involved. Practice is the only way to develop this craft. Be kind to yourself. Be willing to make mistakes and take chances. Your first two years are the most challenging as you build your content and strategies. It does get easier as you get better. Pay attention to the power in politics and its attempt to influence education. Promote change on the front lines.
We at SoE wish Josh DeBard good luck on the interview, and we know that his impact and legacy will be felt throughout the school.