Thomas Payeur, a mathematics teacher at Winooski High School who earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at UVM, has been named the 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year by the Vermont Agency of Education.
Payeur, a math and economics major, earned a masters in Secondary Education from UVM’s College of Education and Social Services in 2012. He was honored October 1 at the Outstanding Teachers Day ceremony in UVM’s Davis Center. The event is hosted annually by UVM and the College of Education and Social Services.
He will begin his tenure as Vermont Teacher of the Year on January 1, 2019.
Payeur has been teaching mathematics for six years, all at Winooski High School. He is an innovator in the field of proficiency-based education, leading school change efforts to develop best practices in teaching 21st century skills. His mathematics instruction is grounded in research-based methods. His students come from all around the world and constantly challenge him to rethink his assumptions and explore new ways of problem-solving. He strongly believes that all people are math people.
“Tom is both a leader and an innovator in proficiency-based education at Winooski and one of those teachers who is able to connect with and inspire students on a person-to-person level,” said Secretary of Education Daniel M. French. “Both qualities are perfect examples of the excellence and quality of Vermont educators. We need teachers like Tom who are stepping up and leading innovation and practice development if we are to build a world class, integrated 21st century education system.”
"This honor is an absolute validation of the struggle to reform education with a focus on 21st century skills, across the state of Vermont and the nation as a whole,” said Payeur. “When communities are given time and space to come to consensus on the skills their future generations will need to master, hope, possibility, and success bloom in tangible results. The work requires relentless persistence, artful communication, flexible problem solving, imaginative creativity, cultural competence and a focus on the well-being of all involved. The students, staff and larger community of Winooski regularly embody these skills, and as such, I dedicate this honor to them."
As the 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year, Payeur will travel statewide visiting schools and working with teachers. He is also Vermont’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Payeur will represent Vermont in Washington, D.C. next spring for the National Teacher of the Year program.
Also recognized were the 2019 Vermont Alternate Teacher of the Year, Beth Fraser, a mathematics teacher at Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River and Distinguished Finalist Shane Heath, a science teacher at Northfield Middle High School
Since 1964, the Agency of Education has recognized outstanding Vermont teachers. Now in its 38th Year, Outstanding Teacher Day recognizes outstanding teachers throughout the state through a ceremonial event that takes place in October. Each participating supervisory union or school district may nominate one teacher at the elementary/middle school level, one teacher at the secondary level and one technical center teacher.