Dana Miles, a teacher at the Washington State School for the Deaf based in Vancouver, Washington has been recognized as the 2023 Washington State Teacher of the Year. Miles was presented with the award on September 12, by State Superintendent Chris Reykdal at the 2022 Educator Awards Ceremony in Seattle.
With 10 years of experience as a teacher, Miles is a high school Bilingual Language Arts (BLA) and Work Experience Teacher, focusing on teaching in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
During the nomination process for the award, Miles’ colleagues shared that, “Students and staff know she truly cares about them and will go to bat for them… She undoubtedly transforms our students’ lives as well as her colleagues.”
As a member of the Deaf community, Miles incorporates her own experiences and learnings as she teaches Work Experience and Applied Bilingual Language Arts in a real-world context. This approach allows her Deaf students to prepare for their future with confidence. Miles emphasizes her students’ learning of necessary life skills that will help them to find individual success, including writing resumes, filling out job applications, reading bus maps, writing to communicate, giving directions, discussing current world events, along with learning about their rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“My goal is for students to recognize their worth as individuals, no matter what kind of educational background they may have,” says Miles. “Once they realize their worth, they start to feel confident. Being confident helps them overcome challenges that will come their way.”
This lesson in confidence will take them far, preparing her students for life after high school.
Miles has made it her mission to be an authentic and relatable teacher. This, plus her efforts to make meaningful personal connections with all of her students, contributed to her being recognized by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as Teacher of the Year.
As part of her tenure, Miles will travel the state this year to represent Washington’s educators and will be considered for the highly prestigious National Teacher of the Year award, to be announced in Spring 2023.