Thoughts from a Virtual Session with 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy

Tabitha Roy

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Maine Department of Education welcomed 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy for a virtual question and answer session with Maine educators. Joining from her home in Kansas, Tabatha introduced herself and greeted a group of early childhood educators from the public, private, and special education sectors in Maine and beyond.

Ms. Rosproy spent the one-hour session discussing early childhood topics of interest in Maine, as well as responding to questions from participants. Tabatha’s honesty and passion for the field was evident through her down-to-earth and personable demeanor with session participants. By the end of the hour, it was apparent that Maine and Kansas aren’t all that different. And, although early childhood education has gained some traction nationally, there is still room for growth.

Key takeaways from the session included the value in making connections with colleagues and families, promoting classroom inclusion, and growing school leadership. Tabatha also emphasized the importance of early childhood educators “bring(ing) their seats to the table.” She encouraged each educator to, “Be an advocate for your students and get involved in your classroom, school, district and state.” She went on to inspire educators to think of leadership as an “activity, not a position.” Tabatha suggested it takes courage to do the right thing but that educators should feel empowered to be advocates, not reliant on individuals in positions of power. She also reminded participants that early childhood is not just the early grades of public school, but birth through eight years old. This time in a child’s development is critical and special. and they need a whole system of supporters, not just teachers.

When interacting with families, Tabatha shared that engagement and communication are crucial to building positive relationships and learning atmospheres. “Think of it like a bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals. The deposits are those positive daily comments about each child. The withdrawals are the occasional conversations of concern and goals for growth. Let’s make regular deposits!”

By the end of the hour, participants were thankful for Tabatha’s insights. While Tabatha has many doors open for her now, she shared she “has a hard time not seeing herself in the Pre-K classroom.” When asked what final advice she has for early childhood educators, she responded, “Keep speaking up! In some way, keep using your voice.”

For more information about Tabatha Rosproy and CCSSO’s National of Teacher of the Year Program, visit https://ntoy.ccsso.org/. You can also follow Tabatha on social media at: @NTOY20 on Facebook, @NTOY2020 on Instagram, and @TabathaRosproy on Twitter.

Any questions or comments about this opportunity can be directed to Nicole.madore@maine.gov.