LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Clark County School District teacher Juliana Urtubey was named National Teacher of the Year. Urtubey is the first Nevada teacher to receive the honor.
She was one of four finalists and during an interview with CBS News This Morning, she was surprised with the announcement that she won. The surprise continued when First Lady Dr. Jill Biden appeared in her classroom with flowers.
“I was so elated, so proud, so overwhelmed with joy,” Urtubey said of the award.
Juliana Urtubey teaches Pre-K through fifth grade at Kermit Booker Elementary School. She’s the first Latina to be a finalist for Teacher of the Year since at least 1992 in Nevada and the first winner from Nevada since the award started in 1952.
Not only is Urtubey an educator, but she is also an advocate. She has a Bachelor of Arts in bilingual elementary education and a masters from the University of Arizona.
Urtubey is also a national board-certified teacher for both exceptional needs students and young adults.
“It’s all about teaching our students to have the mindset that mistakes are OK and that learning is fun and making sure they understand what we’re doing is based on their strengths and their interests,” she said.
Urtubey’s students know her as “Ms. Earth,” sine she strives to beautify the school and unify them through the use of gardens and murals.
“Sweet, honest and a very good teacher,” said third-grader Edward Williams.
Parent Tonya Williams shared, “It is exciting. It is just, like, I think it’s a privilege to be a part of it, have my kids be in the school. I’m so happy for her.”
The 2021 National Teacher of the Year will spend the next year serving as an ambassador for education and an advocate for all teachers and students.
Urtubey said she believes the school system should be “joyous and just for each child.”