Press release by Indiana Department of Education:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced on Friday that Brandon Denning of Indianapolis Public Schools, Eric Jenkins of Franklin Community Schools and Matt Thomas of Valparaiso Community Schools are the top three finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year.

“With over 65,000 teachers in Indiana, what an honor it is for these teachers to be named one of the top three in the state,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “We know through research that a quality teacher is one of the most influential factors in student achievement, which underscores the importance of continuing to recruit excellent candidates to join the profession. The Teacher of the Year process is one of many ways we can, and must, continue to celebrate the impact of our educators and elevate our profession.”

More information about Indiana’s top three Teacher of the Year finalists can be found below:

Brandon Denning is a mathematics teacher working with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) Center for Inquiry 84. In his eighth year of teaching, Denning’s student-centered approach prioritizes collaboration, exploration and student voice. Along with teaching mathematics, he also acts as a teacher ambassador for the district, actively helping to recruit additional high-quality educators to serve in IPS classrooms.

Eric Jenkins is an English teacher at Franklin Community High School where he teaches tenth grade honors/general English/language arts, as well as Indiana University’s Advanced College Project (ACP) Composition Course W131. Now in his thirteenth year of teaching, Jenkins is dedicated to crafting lessons that challenge all students to develop personally and creatively. Jenkins discovered his passion for helping students become lifelong readers while earning his Master’s of Science degree in Literacy.

Matt Thomas is a freshman English teacher at Valparaiso High School and serves as an instructional coach for his colleagues. For 26 years, Thomas has served as an educator to middle and high school students and is a two-time recipient of the Northwest Indiana Teacher of Excellence Award. Thomas is passionate about improving student engagement, tailoring instruction to meet individual student needs and helping his colleagues to find purpose in their vocation.

The Indiana Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in October, will work to help elevate the teaching profession in Indiana, as well as represent Hoosier teachers at the national level.

For over 60 years, the Indiana Teacher of the Year Program has worked to inspire, rejuvenate and celebrate the teaching profession by recognizing outstanding teachers from across the state. The program encourages schools to nominate their local Teachers of the Year for this statewide honor. Finalists are selected from these applicants by a committee made up of former Teachers of the Year, IDOE staff, educational organization leaders, business and community leaders and representatives from higher education.