Back to School: Bill Gates Interviews Washington's Teacher of the Year

Back to School: Bill Gates Interviews Washington's Teacher of the Year


Getting into the back to school spirit and emphasizing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's U.S. education program area, Bill Gates shares a "big comeuppance" he experienced in high school on his blog, and how that relates to creating a lifelong learning journey for teachers and students alike. The post features an interview with Lyon Terry, the 2015 Teacher of the Year in Washington state.

Lyon, a fourth-grade teacher at Seattle's Lawton Elementary School, talked to Gates about what he has learned in 17 years as an educator: Teaching is About Relationships.

His blog post concludes:

Lyon’s comments echoed a problem that many teachers have told me about. They feel isolated. They do not get nearly enough time to sit with their colleagues discussing techniques or specific students. It’s great that Seattle schools are making this a priority. And they’re not alone; a few years ago Melinda and I visited a high school in Eagle County, Colorado, where they were carving out time for teachers to talk to each other. But this problem deserves even more attention nationwide.

I asked Lyon how the Common Core State Standards are affecting his work. “The Common Core is really just a set of skills,” he said. “It says a 4th grader should be able to determine the theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text. Well, that seems like a reasonable expectation, and that’s what I’ve always taught. The big change is designing the curriculum to meet those skills, which means providing supports for teachers.” He and other educators from around Seattle have been doing just that, writing a curriculum to support the Common Core standards.

If you ever start feeling glum about the possibility of improving America’s schools, spend a little time with an amazing teacher. It is deeply inspiring. My conversation with Lyon reaffirmed my belief that we should be listening to educators like him, and acting on their ideas. It will make life better for thousands of teachers, and even more importantly, it will make schools better for millions of children.