FARMINGTON — A longtime language arts teacher at Mt. Blue High School is one of 46 public school educators to receive a national award.
The NEA Foundation named Dan Ryder of Jay as a recipient of the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence. He is to receive the award during the foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in February 2019 in Washington, D.C., according to a news release.
Peers nominate educators for the award for their “dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.”
“I’m always surprised when I get nominated for an award or receive any sort of recognition for what I do,” Ryder wrote in an email. “I suppose in part because I’m surrounded by exceptional educators and brilliant students every day at Mt. Blue and I’m just trying to live up to the standards they set. The folks I’ve met through the (Maine Education Association) have been so supportive of the work I do over the years — I just hope I represent them well on the national stage.”  
Ryder has been teaching at Mt. Blue High School for 20 years. He graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in May 1998 and three weeks later, he was offered the opportunity to join the English Department at the high school in Farmington.
He has also taught as an adjunct instructor at UMF in the Middle and Secondary Education Department. 
“I became a teacher because I wanted to have the same impact on kids that my best teachers had on me when I was struggling through my adolescence — they made me feel valued, capable, interesting, important and supported,” Ryder wrote.
Each year, the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala draws almost 1,000 supporters of public education, and thousands more online, to applaud these recipients. At the gala, the educators are truly the stars, celebrated throughout the night with music, performances, videos and more.

NEA Foundation President and CEO Harriet Sanford said 2019 will be the association’s 50th anniversary, and “we will celebrate the largest number of awardees in our history. These educators are keeping the promise of public education by creating learning opportunities for their students that are relevant and rigorous. They advocate for each other, the profession, and public education.”

Of the 46 state educators who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, five finalists will be announced at the beginning of the school year and will receive $10,000 at the gala. The nation’s top educator will be revealed at the gala on Feb. 8, 2019, and receive an additional $25,000.
The gala will be live-streamed at

Dan Ryder (Submitted photo)

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