And the World Educator of the Year award goes to…

The World Affairs Council (WAC) presents their 2013 World Educator of the Year award to National Board Certified Teacher Noah Zeichner this evening at Town Hall Seattle. He will be honored alongside Mercy Corps founder Dan O’Neill, WAC’s World Citizen of the Year. Though I do not have the pleasure of attending tonight’s celebration, I have been fortunate to work, learn, and grow alongside Noah in his role as a teacherpreneur for the past 3 years. 

This weekend’s Academy Awards got me thinking that celebrities shouldn’t get to have all the fun. If I had the honor of introducing Noah tonight, here’s what I might say… 

Our next award winner needs a formal introduction, but he shouldn’t.

His name should be recognized by 3.2 million of his teaching colleagues across the country as a standard-bearer for the profession that makes all others possible. His influence should not be counted in the hundreds of students on his class roster, but in the millions across the country who are the leaders of today—not tomorrow, as they have previously been led to believe.

He is well-known in his school community, but he is not well-known enough for leadership that transcends his classroom and school, this city, state, and continent.

To his colleagues he is an expert practitioner, a leader, a confidante. To his students he is a turning point, a catalyst, and an occasional but essential kick in the pants. He asks hard questions, listens thoughtfully, leads methodically, and builds consensus by fostering relationships, honoring his commitments, and exercising intelligent humility.

Tonight’s next honoree represents a paradox of the modern teaching profession. He is the best of what teaching represents today while directly challenging the antiquated dogmas that keep the profession stuck in the early 20th century.

He’ll be the first to tell you that he is no exception—the majority of his colleagues want to lead beyond their classrooms. Our task as a community of those who give a damn: forge a pathway for the country’s best teachers to lead education without leaving the classroom.

Ladies and gentleman, I am honored to present the World Affair’s Council 2013 World Educator of the Year: Noah Zeichner.

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  • Cheryl Redfield


    Congratulations Noah on this tremendous achievement!

    While the award is significant enough, the most outstanding part is the character, habits of mind, and deep understanding of learners that is the reason and foundation of it all.

    Thank you for your shining example and for the huge investment you make in the lives of others. 

  • JessicaCuthbertson


    Congrats Noah — you’re red carpet worthy in every way!

    Thanks for all you do for your school, community, and the world! 🙂 But thanks especially for being one of the most humble, grounded and kind virtual colleagues a fellow teacherpreneur could ask for!

  • Sandy Merz



    You so deserve this honor. Kris’s tribute is dead on.

  • BriannaCrowley

    I don’t know you as personally as Kris but…

    I have followed your work for years! Thank you for your quiet, confident leadership. I’m sure this award is deserved in every way. Congratulations!

  • NoahZeichner


    Thanks so much, Kris. I really appreciate the thoughtful introduction. They should have Skyped you in 🙂

  • BillIvey

    Congratulations, Noah!

    … on the original wonderful honor, on Kris’s tribute, and on being such a strong example for other teachers. 🙂

  • JustinMinkel

    Comfortable future, tough present

    Bravo! (to you both, writer and honoree.) Love this. This is a really big deal, Noah, and I would love to observe in your classroom for a day or 30.

    Kris, I particularly like the line about “leaders of today,” not just tomorrow. The future is so comfortable in its remove, isn’t it? Would George W. Bush have set the 100% proficiency threshold in NCLB if he knew he’d still be in office when the bell tolled?

    The cynical part of me thinks that one element–certainly not the main one, but part of it–behind the shift to Common Core assessments is a tremendous opportunity for Commissioners and Governors to save face; that 100% proficiency mark has not been reached, but just before the buzzer buzzed, the tests changed and we get to set a new time horizon.

    It’s harder to make change now, to realize that 13+% of the 21st century has already elapsed, and that global realities are here.

    Noah, it sounds like you blend idealism and pragmatism, reality and hope, in your work. It’s an honor to be in the profession, and this smaller slice of kindred spirits within that profession, with you.

    Mazel tov!


  • SusanGraham



    WooHoo Noah! We are all so proud of you and pleased for you!