Story at a glance

  • Juliana Urtubey was awarded the 2021 Teacher of the Year title.
  • She is known for her innovative teaching with gardens and mural projects.
  • Urtubey said she has seen her students make remarkable progress and that she believes teachers have a stronger voice now more than ever.

For the first time, the U.S.’s National Teacher of the Year is a Latina, with 2021’s winner being Juliana Urtubey of Nevada.

A Board-certified elementary school teacher who works in the special education division, she is known as “Ms. Earth” for her educational instruction that combines addressing issues on educational equity with garden and mural projects. 



Urtubey teaches preschool through fifth grade at the Kermit R Booker Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas. One of her other notable accomplishments is contributing to the development of a cross-disciplinary teaching approach that addressed emotional, social, academic and behavioral aspects of learning.

“I’m so proud. I’m just so proud because the world that we do for students who learn and think differently is the heartbeat and it's so critical in education,” Urtubey said in a statement

She further outlines that teachers are more influential in terms of advocacy and policy direction. Urtubey hopes to make both more responsive to the needs of students. 

“As a teacher, your voice matters,” she said.

On May 6, during a CBS interview, Urtubey was surprised with flowers by first lady Jill Biden, who has a doctoral degree in education and was an educator prior to becoming First Lady. 



Published on May 07, 2021