October 9, 2018

National Teacher of the Year Award

NYU DC Dialogues and the Peace Corps Community for Refugees hosted an evening of discussion led by keynote speaker, Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, who has become one of the nation's leading advocates in support of immigrant and refugee students in the nation's public schools. Like thousands of other U.S. educators who started their professional lives in the Peace Corps, Manning began her teaching career in 1999 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia.

Last May, when the veteran high school teacher from Spokane, Washington received her award from President Trump at the White House, she hand delivered to the president more than 40 letters from her immigrant and refugee students chronicling their difficult but largely successful experiences in the United States. Manning has been speaking out about her students and what America means to them to national audiences ever since.

Following Manning's address, local refugee and immigrant residents shared their stories joined by leaders from faith-based groups who discussed successful ways everyone can mobilize local support for immigrants and refugees in the DC area.

Veronica Olivera
, a native of Bolivia and a successful student in Northern Virginia, joined Mandy Manning at the podium and talked about her arduous journey to the United States in the winter of 2015 and why continuing her education in the United States is her highest priority.

DC Dialogues Logo

Mandy Manning

Mandy Manning teaches English to newly arrived refugee and immigrant students in the Newcomer Center at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington. In her classroom, Mandy uses experiential projects like map-making to help her students process trauma, celebrate their home countries and culture, and learn about their new community. As 2018 National Teacher of the Year, Mandy will encourage educators to teach their students to overcome their fears and seek out new experiences.

I’ve learned how to be fearless from my students. I teach immigrant refugee students. My students have gone through unspeakable circumstances to come to the United States, a nation that gives them hope to be someone. I watch their innate hopefulness and fearlessness in coming into this new community, a community that in many ways has not welcomed them. They come to school everyday; they’re focused, they’re dedicated, they’re committed to their dreams, and becoming productive members of society and citizens. So, all I have to do is look at them, and they teach me how to be fearless.

- From NEA Today, June 12, 2018

Speaker Bios