Missy Testerman named National Teacher of the Year: “She makes everyone feel important”

April 3, 2024
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Missy Testerman has been educating young minds for more than 30 years. 

Her hard work has paid off with a distinctive honor: Testerman was named 2024 National Teacher of the Year. It is selected by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The news was first announced on CBS Mornings. Testerman is a longtime elementary school teacher at Rogersville City Schools in Rogersville, Tennessee.

“There are 3.5 million teachers in this country, so to be named as the teacher who gets to advocate for our teachers and our students is just an incredible honor,” she said.

In a tribute video to her years of hard work and support as an educator, a former student told CBS Mornings, “she makes everyone feel important.”

Testerman has previously taught first and second grades, and is currently the English as a second language program director. Testerman said she wanted to be a teacher when she walked into the classroom of her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Brown.

“I was very scared, and she took me by the hand, led me over to where my classmates and the toys were, and from that moment on, I wanted to be like Mrs. Brown,” Testerman said.

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Missy Testerman is revealed as the 2024 National Teacher of the Year on CBS Mornings on April 3, 2024.

CBS News


What she loves the most about being a teacher is being the person who gets to “unlock the love of learning in students,” she said.

Testerman stressed there is no such thing as bad students, and that everyone can have a bad day.

“There may be kids who are having bad days or kids who are struggling with the circumstances they’re in, but there is no such thing as a bad kid.”

But when students trust teachers and create a strong bond, that’s when Testerman said she believes learning takes place.

“When students realize you’re on their side and you want them to be able to create a good life for themselves, that’s when learning takes pace.

First lady Jill Biden, who has spent decades as an educator, surprised Testerman with flowers on CBS Mornings. 

“I always say teachers are our heroes, and I wanted to be here today to celebrate Missy as I love celebrating teachers,” the first lady said. 


First lady Jill Biden surprises National Teacher of the Year, Missy Testerman

05:46

While they share a love and passion for their profession, both women recognize the challenges facing teachers today.

Testerman said she maintains there is not a teacher shortage, but instead the issue lies with compensation.

“A lot of times you hear that there is a teacher shortage. We have a lot of trained teachers out there, people who were even in our classrooms, who were highly effective educators, but they left because they needed to make more money for their families,” she said. “The average new college grad coming out of an educator program makes 25% less than most other career fields.”

When it comes to retaining teachers, Biden looks to those currently in the classroom for help.

“I think it’s up to the teachers who are already in the classroom to recruit other teachers and to mentor them because that’s exactly what Missy does, she mentors other teachers and I think it’s so important,” she said.

Biden announced the first ever Teachers of the Year State Dinner, which will be on May 1.

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