NEW YORK--()--PEOPLE, the No. 1 celebrity weekly in the U.S., today announced the five winners of the magazine’s first-ever “Teacher of the Year” Awards (#teacherofyear): Jennifer Bohn (Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, Florida), Brian Copes (Calera High School in Calera, Alabama), Elizabeth “Libby” Curran (Richards Elementary School in Newport, New Hampshire), Arwen Imai Matthews (Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas) and Robert J. Vega (Noble Street Charter School in Chicago).
“We all remember those special teachers who changed our lives, who helped us achieve, who set us on a path to becoming successful adults”
PEOPLE’s “Teacher of the Year” Awards honors these five extraordinary educators – nominated by readers and selected by PEOPLE’s editors with guidance from an all-star advisory board of education professionals – who are changing the lives of their students and paving the way for a new generation of American leaders. Each winner will be featured in the October 22 issue of PEOPLE magazine (on newsstands October 12), and will receive $5000 ($4000 for their school and $1000 for themselves). In addition, they will be feted in New York at a special luncheon on Wednesday, October 10.
“We all remember those special teachers who changed our lives, who helped us achieve, who set us on a path to becoming successful adults,” said Larry Hackett, managing editor, PEOPLE. “The winners of our 2012 contest are doing just that for their students, each in a different way.”
About PEOPLE’s “Teacher of the Year” Winners:
Jennifer Bohn – Coordinator of the International Baccalaureate program at Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, Florida. An 18-year veteran at Evans, Bohn teaches Leadership Development to at-risk students. As an adviser for the BETA club, a group that teaches leadership skills, Bohn helped her students publish a 138-page book, Everyone Has a Story To Tell, a collection of interviews of 30 homeless people from the area.
Brian Copes – A pre-engineering teacher at Calera High School in Calera, Alabama, teaching classes such as Research and Design and Engineering Applications, he says his goal is to encourage his students to change the world. Last summer Copes took 10 of his students to Honduras, where they fit 14 amputees with artificial legs that they had fashioned from parts from old Toyota Corolla automobiles. The class also assembled basic utility vehicles to provide ambulance services to remote locations.
Elizabeth "Libby" Curran – A special education teacher at Richards Elementary School in Newport, New Hampshire, and a district trainer for alternative assessments and known locally as "the lady with the little books." Curran has hand-produced more than 200 beginning readers, which draw upon her students' interests. She pioneered a reading-buddies program, where students of the same age read to each other for an hour after school, and has helped more than 500 families become regular library users.
Arwen Imai Matthews – Head of the science department at KIPP 3D Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas, teaches eighth-grade physics and chemistry. Matthews has ignited an enduring passion for science in hundreds of students, many of whom she continues to assist with homework beyond graduation. Along with leading extracurricular activities and one-on-one tutorials with her kids, she takes steps to ensure that girls remain confident and committed to the study of science.
Robert J. Vega – Serves as the director of bands for Rauner College Prep, a campus of the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago. Since 2010 Vega has been the sole member of the school’s music department, teaching band to more than 300 students. Though few of his kids had ever picked up an instrument before his class, the Rauner jazz band placed fifth last year at the Berklee College of Music's High School Jazz Fest in Boston.
PEOPLE’s “Teacher of the Year” Awards are sponsored by Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats®, a brand that is committed to setting children up for success in school and recognizes the important role that teachers play in helping kids reach their individual potential.
“Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® believes in helping kids reach their greatest potential each day in school. That’s why we’re proud to recognize hard-working teachers who share in that mission with us by sponsoring the Teacher of the Year Awards,” said Matt Lindsay, Marketing Director, Morning Foods from Kellogg Company.
PEOPLE’s Teacher of the Year Advisory Board:
Kim Oliver Burnim – Teacher at Broad Acres Elementary, a culturally and linguistically diverse school in Silver Spring, Maryland. In 2006 she was named the National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Following a year as a full-time education spokesperson and advocate, she is back in her classroom.
Dr. John Deasy – Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest. Prior to joining the LAUSD in August 2010, he served as Deputy Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led the programmatic work on effective teaching.
Lily Eskelsen – An elementary school teacher from Utah and Vice President of the National Education Association. She was recently appointed by President Obama to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, whose goal is to expand education opportunities and improve education outcomes for Hispanic students.
Wendy Kopp – Chief Executive Officer and founder of Teach For America, which has enlisted 33,000 new graduates to commit themselves to two years of teaching in low-income communities. She is also Chief Executive officer and co-founder of Teach For All, a global network of independent social enterprises which are working to expand educational opportunity.
John Legend – Grammy-winning recording artist and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Show Me Campaign, an organization that works to break the cycle of poverty through education.
PEOPLE revolutionized personality journalism in 1974; today it is the world’s most successful and popular magazine. Each week the PEOPLE brand brings more than 53 million consumers the latest news, exclusive interviews, and in-depth reporting on the most compelling people of our time. PEOPLE.com is the premier web destination for celebrity news, photos, style, and entertainment coverage. PEOPLE is headquartered in New York with reporters across the globe.
About Kellogg Company
Driven to enrich and delight the world through foods and brands that matter, Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) is the world’s leading producer of cereal, second largest producer of cookies and crackers and - through the May 2012 acquisition of the iconic Pringles® business - the world’s second largest savory snacks company. In addition, Kellogg is a leading producer of frozen foods. Every day, our well-loved brands - produced in 18 countries and marketed in more than 180 countries - nourish families so they can flourish and thrive. With 2011 sales of more than $13 billion, these brands include Cheez-It®, Coco Pops®, Corn Flakes®, Eggo®, Frosted Flakes®, Kashi®, Keebler®, Kellogg’s®, Mini-Wheats®, Pop-Tarts®, Pringles®, Rice Krispies®, Special K®, and many more. To learn more about Kellogg Company, including our corporate responsibility initiatives and rich heritage, please visit www.kelloggcompany.com.