Mandy Manning ready to return to classroom after her time as Teacher of the Year

Mandy Manning ready to return to classroom after her time as Teacher of the Year

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, but it has been more of a year of appreciation for Mandy Manning, who teaches English to refugee and immigrant students at Ferris High School’s Newcomer Center. Manning is wrapping up her time as the 2018 Teacher of the Year and sat down with KXLY to look back on the past year as she gets ready to get back into the classroom.

KXLY: Can you tell us a little bit about the students you have here at Ferris?

Manning: I teach in the Newcomer Center, which is a specialized English language development program for brand new immigrants and refugees to our nation. That’s a special program that’s housed here at Ferris, but it takes students from all across the district… It’s a really amazing program and I’m very privileged to be able to teach in that classroom.

KXLY: When you heard you were named 2018 Washington State Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year, what went through your head?

Manning: Originally, when I was named Washington State Teacher of the Year, I was just floored… To go beyond that and be selected as the National Teacher of the Year, amongst 55 incredible state teachers of the year, I just, every single day I still wake up and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe that I’m the National Teacher of the Year,’ because I know the caliber of educators that have this title and so everyday I’m sort of in disbelief.”

KXLY: This might be a weird question to answer, but why do you think you won?

Manning: That’s always a very difficult question to state why I think that I was selected, but I have this incredible capacity for unconditional love. So even from the first moment that I stepped into a classroom, I looked out at my students and I thought, ‘I am in front of an incredible group of humans who are just starting out on life and have this endless potential and I have the privilege and the honor to help them to believe in themselves. And, now, 20 years later, still every single time I walk into a classroom, I’m like ‘oh, what an honor.’ I just love them. I love them with everything in me and I think that shines through? I don’t know.

KXLY: Was it hard getting this huge honor and then having that take you away from your students?

Manning: It was hard. At first, I was like, ‘okay I’m gonna have a little bit of a break,’ I mean I’ve been doing this for, at that point, I had been doing it for 19 years… But I still, during that time I was just traveling Washington state and I visited my classroom, like, if not every week, every other week… Once I became the National Teacher of the Year I knew that was gonna change that… I was okay until school started. Then, for the very first time in 20 years, I wasn’t starting with a new classroom of kids and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t know how to deal with it… You know they talk often about how difficult a teacher’s job is. But we don’t often talk about how much we gain from our kids. Every single year brings a new set of kids and a new set of lessons and gifts that those kids bring with them and we have the pleasure of experiencing and going on this incredible journey with them as they learn who they are… So let’s just say, I am very excited for August.

For more on Mandy’s year, tune into KXLY 4 News at 6 p.m.

RELATED: Ferris High School educator named National Teacher of the Year

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