Jamie Yoos, a chemistry teacher at Bellingham High School, is the new state teacher of the year.
Yoos, who beat out eight other teachers from around the state for the title, is the first state teacher of the year from Whatcom County.
“It’s an exceptional honor,” said Yoos, 41, after the announcement Monday, Sept. 28, in Olympia. “For whatever reason, my experience stood out a little bit, and I’m just ever so pleased to be recognized for it.”
Yoos is in his 14th year of teaching, fifth in Bellingham. He taught the full science gamut – from biology to physics to fifth-grade ecology – before he “settled quickly” into chemistry 11 years ago.
Yoos’ classroom is regularly a buzz of activity, with students working on projects and experiments while Yoos walks around and assists. He and his students regularly joke and tell stories, giving his classroom a fun, yet thought-provoking, atmosphere.
Yoos’ main job is teaching honors and Advanced Placement chemistry, but last school year he brought his love of bicycling into the classroom. Yoos knew school and district budgets were tight, so he secured more than $5,000 in grants and donations to offer a bicycle maintenance class. And the class has proven popular – there’s a waiting list this semester.
During class, whether it’s chemistry or bike maintenance, Yoos keeps his students active by emphasizing hands-on learning and the idea that people learn from their mistakes.
Yoos also tries to go beyond the classroom and find learning opportunities for himself, co-workers and students. Last school year he used a technology grant to mentor co-workers on how to incorporate technology into the classroom. For his chemistry classes, Yoos creates video podcast lectures that students can watch at home if they need to, allowing for maximum lab time in class.
As the state teacher of the year, Yoos will serve as a teacher ambassador this school year while still working at Bellingham High. He also will advance to the national Teacher of the Year competition, which will have a winner announced this spring.
“I absolutely hope that I can do what I can do to represent the teachers of Washington state appropriately,” he said. “While I do have visions… I see myself as a representative rather than someone just touting my own initiatives.”