HARRISVILLE — A local educator is one step closer to becoming the 2022 N.H. Teacher of the Year.
John Thomas, a teacher at Wells Memorial School in Harrisville, was named one of six semifinalists for the award, the state education department announced Thursday. Thomas, who was one of 28 teachers statewide nominated for the honor, typically teaches 1st and 2nd grades at Wells Memorial but last year taught a cohort of students in grades 1-6 who were learning fully remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the other semifinalists, Thomas, 53, of Keene, will present to the Teacher of the Year selection committee later this month on the future of the education system beyond the coronavirus crisis, according to a news release from the education department.
The committee — which includes New Hampshire First Lady Valerie Sununu, who is a former special educator, as well as state education officials and previous award winners — will select finalists and visit their schools later this month. The winner, who will be announced in early October, will be the New Hampshire entrant in the National Teacher of the Year Program.
“Our New Hampshire teachers are very talented,” Valerie Sununu said in the news release. “Under the unique circumstances of remote learning and a world-wide pandemic, the teachers nominated this session hold a special regard in our state and our communities. Every single one of them deserves our utmost celebration.”
Thomas was one of two local teachers — along with Kathy Peters, a special educator at Fuller Elementary School in Keene — nominated for the award this year. A Kansas City, Kan., native who moved to the Monadnock Region in 2001, Thomas said his father always made time to help the people in his life, and ultimately inspired him to seek ways to give back. That led him to leave a business career, earn a master’s in education from Antioch University New England in Keene, and begin teaching.
Teachers can be nominated by peers, administrators, students, parents or other community members, according to the N.H. Department of Education. Educators are selected for their exemplary service, dedication to their students and commitment to improving education, and the teacher of the year is meant to honor one person who represents the best of New Hampshire’s educators.