Laura Varlas

2012 ASCD Outstanding Young Educator Award Winners

2012 OYEA Winners

Ten years ago, ASCD created the Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA) program to recognize creative and committed teachers and administrators under the age of 40 who are making a difference in children's lives. Since 2002, the OYEA program has combed through thousands of applications to identify young educators who embody a whole child approach to education and are leaders in the classroom as well as in their communities.

Continuing the proud OYEA tradition are this year's winners:

  • Matt McClure, superintendent of Cross County Schools in Cherry Valley, Ark.
  • Liliana Aguas, a 2nd grade dual-language immersion teacher at Leconte Elementary School in Berkeley, Calif.

McClure has tackled the challenges of a rural school district and instituted an effective school turnaround program focused on the whole child. Under his leadership, all the schools in the Cross County district improved from School Improvement status to successful schools with not only an academic focus, but also daily physical fitness classes, homework help, student tutoring, and enrichment activities that make learning fun and keep students engaged.

McClure also opened Arkansas's first New Tech school and oversaw the opening of a medical facility on a school campus to serve both students and community members. The Arkansas Department of Education has recognized McClure's district as a Coordinated School Health district, and each weekend schools send home backpacks full of healthy foods to families in need. The district also offers an after-school program with cooking classes so that students can prepare and serve healthy snacks.



Aguas is committed to educating the whole child by promoting a genuine sense of community where students learn cooperatively and are intellectually challenged through differentiated instruction. Her students participate in activities that promote self-discovery, such as creative writing, readers theater, and multicultural literature exploration.

Aguas creates classroom environments that promote students' discovery of the surrounding culture; bilingualism; social justice; and natural environment, which they explore through a native plant garden and a tadpole and caterpillar habitat. Recently, Aguas held an international fair for her students and parents with poster presentations and a potluck, featuring dishes and music from the different countries that the students researched.

Parent partnerships are also a focus of Aguas's teaching, and she hosts cafecitos, or coffee time, with her Spanish-speaking parents.



Nominate a Young Educator

ASCD is currently accepting nominations for next year's OYEA award. We've recently changed the nomination process to include self-nominations because we recognize that for many educators, there is no individual who can observe the work you do within a classroom every day except yourself.

A panel of diverse education professionals selects the OYEA winners from a large pool of candidates. Candidates are divided into teacher and administrator categories because leadership and excellence look a little different in each of these roles. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash award and an ASCD Institutional membership for the school.

ASCD's OYEA program provides winners and a cadre of honorees with opportunities for building leadership skills, professional development, networking, and sharing best practices with one another and the ASCD community. Learn more and submit a nomination.

Where Are They Now?

Find out what the OYEA alumni have achieved since receiving their awards in the article "OYEA Turns 10."

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