A historic week for Tacoma’s Lincoln High School got even more exciting Monday when teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling was named the 2016 Washington state teacher of the year.
Gibbs-Bowling accepted the award — including a hand-blown glass apple made by Tacoma students in the Hilltop Artists program — at a ceremony Monday at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
Gibbs-Bowling, who teaches AP government and human geography at Lincoln, was one of nine teachers from around Washington nominated for the award, and the only nominee from the South Sound.
Over the next year, he will spend some time traveling the state, meeting other teachers and serving as a voice of education. In April, he will go to Washington, D.C., to take part in the national Teacher of the Year competition and visit the White House.
He accepted the award with humility.
“I’m not the best teacher in my school,” he said. “I’m not even the best teacher in my own house.”
Gibbs-Bowling is married to Hope Teague-Bowling, who teaches English and composition at Lincoln.
He credited his family, his Lincoln colleagues, principal Pat Erwin and Tacoma Public Schools for allowing him to flourish at Lincoln, where he’s in his seventh year. Prior to coming to Lincoln, he taught at Meeker Middle School for three years.
Gibbs-Bowling grew up on Tacoma’s Hilltop. He attended Stanley Elementary School, Jason Lee Middle School and Foss High School, graduating in 1997. He earned an associate’s degree at Pierce College and both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from The Evergreen State College.
This is not the first big honor he’s received. In 2014, he earned the Milken Educator Award, a national award which came with $25,000. The state Teacher of the Year designation doesn’t carry as much cash, but Gibbs-Bowling will receive an educator’s software package from SMART Technologies.
Gibbs-Bowling said he wants to use his new platform to promote the good things happening at Lincoln and in Tacoma.
“It’s a great untold tale,” he said.
Asked if he planned to celebrate with his students — perhaps with a cake — he promised to be back in the classroom, engaged with students.
“We are going back to work tomorrow,” he said.
That work includes preparations for a campus visit Wednesday from Xi Jinping, the president of China.
All nine of the state Teacher of the Year nominees spent the weekend together, asking questions and learning from each other.
“Everybody up here is an amazing teacher,” Gibbs-Bowling said of the nominees on stage.
Teacher of the Year finalists:
▪ Winner: Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, Lincoln High School, Tacoma Public Schools
▪ Alecia McAdams-Sing, Lakeside High School, Nine Mile Falls School District
▪ Joyce Stark, Sunnyside High School, Sunnyside School District
▪ Bethany Rivard, Fort Vancouver High School, Vancouver School District
▪ Maegan Skoubo, Raymond Junior-Senior High School, Raymond School District
▪ Theresa Holland-Schmid, Kingston High School, North Kitsap School District
▪ Omar Escalera, McLoughlin Middle School, Pasco School District
▪ Ashley Leneway, Morgan Owings Elementary, Chelan School District
▪ Michael Werner, Granite Falls High School, Granite Falls School District