ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – Apple Valley High School Mentor Program Teacher and Speech Coach Tzitel Voss has been selected Minnesota Educator of the Year by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) and is one of 32 state winners that will be considered for National Educator of the Year.
Voss has been a teacher at Apple Valley High since 2003 and was named the school’s Teacher of the Year in 2016-17. She has coached numerous state and national speech finalists and champions, and is part of a tradition of excellence in speech and debate at Apple Valley, in District 196 and at the state and national levels. Apple Valley ranks first in the number of speech championships won in the history of the state tournament and for the past three years, Apple Valley and Eagan high schools have been selected as two of the top 10 Schools of Outstanding Distinction at the NSDA national tournament.
Voss first got involved with speech as a student at Chisago Lakes High School. In her junior year, she advanced to the final round of the state tournament in storytelling. “I was excited but unprepared, fumbling my way through the story and earning last place in the round,” she recalls. “However, that moment was far from my last ‘final round.’ I’m still telling stories today.”
Voss said she approaches each class through the lens of storytelling to make the content engaging and accessible for all learners. “Through storytelling, students have the opportunity to communicate their truths in a creative way, collaborate with classmates for feedback and think more critically about our world and the way we often silence the voices around us,” she says. “Teacher and author Marni Gillard says in her book, Storyteller, Storyteacher, that students are ‘hungry to be listened to.’ Our job as educators is to help liberate their voices so they may share the stories that are meaningful to them.”
Finalists for NSDA’s National Educator of the Year will be announced on Jan. 15. Each finalist will be asked to compile a portfolio highlighting their commitment to 21st century learning. The National Educator of the Year will be announced on National Speech and Debate Education Day on March 2, 2018.
To be eligible for the state and national awards, nominees must be an NSDA coach member; have a minimum of five years classroom experience; provide significant and ongoing support to others in the field of speech and debate education; model NSDA’s Coaches Code of Ethics, and demonstrate broader contributions to the field of education outside of their own classroom, such as being a presenter, writing curriculum, publishing articles or coaching other teachers on how to incorporate speech and debate into their curriculum.