The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has named Danielle Riha the 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year.

Director of Educator and School Excellence Bob Williams made the announcement Monday afternoon in front of a full audience in the gymnasium at Alaska Native Cultural Charter School (ANCC). The alternate teacher named is Jacob Bera, Eagle River High School art teacher, who will take over Ms. Riha's role if she becomes National Teacher of the Year. 

Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop addressed the students at the ceremony by saying, “The entire state and entire city is proud of your school. Everyone in the state knows your school. Everyone in Alaska is proud of you. Ms. Riha says she’s fantastic because she has fantastic students.”

The energy was infectious.

"Thank you, I really feel the love," said Riha. "I couldn’t have done this without the other teachers here, I’ve learned so much from all of you. I’m proud to represent our school.”

Ms. Riha spent seven years as a teacher in Togiak and New Stugyahok for the Southwest Region School District before moving to Anchorage in 2008 to help open ANCC. She now teaches seventh- and eighth-grade language arts, social studies, science and Math. 

Students and staff members say Ms. Riha is a hard worker and she inspires them all to be the best they can be. 

“Danielle works tirelessly to build meaningful relationships with all students and make all subjects relevant to their lives through cultural connections,” said Ben Walker, Alaska’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. “To hear that students are learning math and literacy through cultural connections to their backgrounds and ancestry reminds me that a teacher’s role is not to make students like us, but to help them become the best version of themselves.”

Ms. Riha holds a bachelor's of education from the University of Alaska Anchorage, a master's of education from Grand Canyon University and is currently working on her doctorate of education at Capella University. 

Those who hold the title of Alaska Teacher of the Year may be called upon to speak at education conferences and participate in statewide education working groups, according to the Department of Education.  

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