Lyon Terry, the 2014 Washington Teacher of the Year (TOY), is a graduate of the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Lyon Terry was selected from nine finalists across the State of Washington. He has a bachelor’s degree from Reed College, a master of education from PSU, and is National Board Certified.
Mr. Terry is a fourth grade teacher at Lawton Elementary School in Seattle and has taught second through fourth grades there for the last 10 years. He previously worked in the Highline School District and in New York City. He is a favorite among students and staff, starting each day in his classroom with his guitar. His approach to instruction is experiential and collaborative. Students in his classes receive extra emphasis on reading and writing. During his time at Lawton Elementary, he has increased fourth grade reading scores at the school by 10 percent.
Mr. Terry sits on district committees, one in particular that is working to align curriculum to the Common Core. He is also a recognized leader in his community and contributes his free time to scouting, sports programs, and other nonprofit activities. He encourages his students to do the same by enlisting them in community projects.
For Lyon Terry, it’s all about community. It’s important to him that students be “kind, smart, and connected.” He found a way to accomplish this by starting Seattle’s first Walking School Bus.
Only 13 percent of students in Seattle were walking to school, down from 65 percent 30 years ago. Morning and afternoon traffic around school buildings was problematic, as many parents drove their children to school. If students were going to walk to school, gaining the benefit of some exercise, they needed safe routes. By organizing older students and parent volunteers to walk groups of children along designated routes, the problem was solved. Traffic has decreased and children look forward to walking to school with their friends. “Walking to school allows students to meet their neighbors,” says Mr Terry. “It allows students to interact with other adults in the community; this improves our community bonds and allows children to be part of something larger than just our local school.” Today, Walking School Buses has caught on throughout Seattle, operates across the state of Washington, and throughout the nation as part of a US Department of Transportation program called SafeRoutes to School.
Lyon Terry is the second PSU alumnus in three years to receive the Washington TOY. In 2012, Vancouver School Librarian Mark Ray, MS ’94, received the honor. Mr. Terry is enthusiastic about PSU. “I felt the program at PSU did a quality job of getting me ready to be a teacher. I appreciate that and would love to give back,” he says.
The Washington TOY is nominated by a parent or community member, and along with prizes and recognition, is eligible for the National Teacher of the Year. All eight finalists receive cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for classroom improvements. Washington finalists also contribute to a collection of personal teaching anecdotes that are shared with legislators and other stakeholders. Lyon Terry and his guitar will spend an exciting year sharing his expertise with other teachers, business leaders, and community groups. In spring, 2015, he will attend the National Teacher of the Year ceremony in Washington, DC, and in July take part in Space Camp.