Return to Headlines

Native Student Program specialist named 2022 Teacher of the Year

Jerad Koepp portraitFor those who know Jerad Koepp, it was no surprise when he was selected as the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year.

"Jerad has helped pave the way in our district for developing a strong Native Student Program which culturally supports our American Indian and Alaska Native students to succeed in school,” said Dr. Antonio Sandifer, Director of Equity and Languages. “His relationship with the Nisqually tribe has been instrumental in building our district’s partnership in better understanding and respecting Native American culture."

Koepp, the Native Student Program Specialist for North Thurston Public Schools, has been teaching for 16 years. He currently provides cultural and academic support for about 230 Native American students from more than 50 tribes, nations, bands, and villages in the 24-school district.

"Mr. Koepp kept reaching out to me to come to the Native Students portable during recesses and I started going, and he started teaching me different things about myself, and my culture that I had never been taught before," said Ella Sherin, a student.

Koepp guest teaches on native issues across grades and co-teaches in the district’s Native studies program. He also provides professional development to educators across North Thurston in areas of native education, culture, policy, and advocacy, according to OSPI. He also took a lead role in writing the district’s Land Acknowledgement, which is now read at district public meetings and at school assemblies. The Nisqually flag is also flown at every district site, with accompanying lessons for classrooms provided by Koepp.

Koepp will compete for the national teacher of the year award, which will be announced next spring.

Learn more about our Native Student Program >>

Update 4/2022: Jerad recently visited the White House (he's at the very top-right)!

Jerad and other Teachers of the Year posing with the President.

Listen to Dr. Biden mention Jerad in her speech!

Update 05/2022: Watch Jerad's conversation with Indian Country Today (he starts at 20 minutes)