2008 Teacher of the Year Mike Geisen

Ask Mike Geisen why he decided to leave forestry behind for a seventh-grade science classroom and he’ll respond with a quip: “Trees just aren’t that interactive; 12-year-olds are.”

“What it really was,” he adds, “is that I wanted to feel passionate about what I was doing, and forestry wasn’t doing that for me. I love being outdoors and working with natural resources, and the issues around it are fascinating to me. But I never got out of bed thinking that I’m going to make a difference today. It started to become routine. It became very much a 20th century job.”

Geisen’s sense of humor and 21st century outlook toward education are two reasons why he was named the 2008 National Teacher of the Year. A teacher at Crook County Middle School in Prineville, Ore., he will be on the road for up to 200 days over the next 12 months, serving as a national and international spokesman for the profession.

The National Teacher of the Year program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, is sponsored by the ING Foundation. Representatives from 15 national education organizations (including the National School Boards Association) selected Geisen, who was recognized at the White House by President Bush on April 30.

Geisen, who is married and has two children (Johanna, 8, and Aspen, 5) recently spoke with Editor-in-Chief Glenn Cook. 

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