The educator grew up in the Tacoma community where he teaches and was honored last year, too, with a $25,000 prize from the Milken Family Foundation.
A Tacoma educator who had already been recognized as one of the nation’s top educators received one more accolade Monday: Washington’s 2016 teacher of the year.
Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, a Lincoln High School geography and government teacher, was chosen from a group of nine regional winners. He will now be considered for the national teacher of the year award.
The 36-year-old teacher looked shocked when Superintendent Randy Dorn read his name, and joked he had stayed awake in bed for an hour the night before, worried that he might have to give a speech. He thanked the staff at his school, his students and the eight other educators on the stage next to him.
“I share this with my staff, my school, my community,” he said.
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Gibbs-Bowling grew up in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and has been teaching in the Tacoma School District for 10 years. He started the first freshman AP course in the district two years ago. His students’ passage rate on the AP government test is three times the district average. He is also a mentor for a program providing college access to low-incomestudents and an announcer at school athletic events.
Last year, he won a $25,000 Milken Educator Award, given each year to a number of early- to midcareer teachers across the nation.
Despite his multiple awards, Gibbs-Bowling said he doesn’t see himself as the best teacher in the state. He thinks his wife is a better teacher than he is, so he’s not even the best teacher in his house, he joked.
At the end of his speech, Gibbs-Bowling said he wanted to continue lifting up the Tacoma community where he grew up by encouraging and educating his students.
As Washington’s teacher of the year, he’ll spend the next 12 months serving as a teaching ambassador, in addition to his normal classroom duties. He’ll also meet President Obama, who will announce the national winner in a White House ceremony in the spring.
He’ll get to meet another president first, though. Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting Lincoln this week.
“Yes, the president of China is coming to my classroom,” Gibbs-Bowling said.
Lyon Terry, a fourth-grade teacher at Lawton Elementary in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, won the state teacher award last year.