“I am honored and excited …” said the longtime teacher from Spokane, Washington in a statement. “This year I hope to engage the nation in a conversation about how we can encourage students to experience things outside of their understanding. When we move out of our comfort zones, visit new places, listen to others’ thoughts, and share our own opinions, we become compassionate and open.”
Since 2011, Manning has been the High School Newcomer Center English Language Development Teacher for the Spokane Public Schools which has a large refugee and ESL population including more than 70 languages spoken and many arriving with no prior formal instruction. Manning employs experiential education methods to help her students transition to their new situations, appreciate where they’ve come from and jumpstart their learning. She often helps the teens and their families outside of the classroom. Manning is also active in connecting the learning center with community leaders and new teachers to share her vision of the importance of the program’s work. She began her teaching career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia from 1999 – 2001.
“Peace Corps showed me the beauty and the value of every new person, their way of thinking, acting, and being, and helped me to be adaptable to new situations and experiences. That adaptability and acceptance of people and experiences outside of my understanding serves me every day in the classroom,” said Manning by email. “Peace Corps changed my trajectory in life, bringing me to where I am today. I am forever thankful I volunteered.”
Earlier this year Manning was named the 2018 Washington State Teacher of the Year and then one of the top four finalists in the national competition put on by the nonprofit Council of Chief State School Officers. “Mandy is a strong educator who believes in a great public education for every student and has a unique perspective on meeting the needs of some of our nation's most vulnerable children. She is dedicated to empowering teacher leaders and putting people first,” said the National Teacher of the Year selection committee in a statement. As part of this honor, Manning will travel the country to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers and students.
Pattye Volz is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs.