Tabatha Rosproy

Tabatha Rosproy

Early Childhood Educator
Winfield Early Learning Center

Preschool teacher and Kansas-NEA member Tabatha Rosproy is the first early childhood educator to win National Teacher of the Year, an award given annually by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“I am so honored to have been chosen to represent the incredible educators in our nation,” said Rosproy, in a statement. As National Teacher of the Year, Rosproy said she hopes to shine a light on the importance of early childhood education, and also on the “powerful role of social-emotional education at all ages.”

Rosproy, who has taught for 10 years, teaches in a rare, intergenerational program—a preschool located inside a retirement community and nursing home in Winfield, Kansas, a small town near the Oklahoma state line. Her classroom is a loving, multi-generational space where preschoolers, including some with special needs, interact daily with residential volunteers, called “Grandmas and Grandpas,” who help foster a sense of community and connections.

Rosproy has served on her building leadership team and as the co-head teacher of the Winfield Early Learning Center and as co-president of Winfield National Education Association. She is also active at the state level with Kansas National Education Association. In addition, she is a member of the Cowley County Special Services Cooperative Early Childhood Academy Team, which provides training and support in positive behavior interventions for early childhood teachers in her county.

Before Kansas schools physically closed in March, as a state leader in public education, Rosproy served as co-chair of an emergency, statewide task force to plan for continuous learning. “It started as a ‘what-if’ situation, but the day we completed it, it was like a real situation,” she said.

In her physical classroom, Rosproy offers direct social-emotional instruction in a “place that’s rich with opportunities to solve conflicts and interact with peers,” she says. “We say it’s part of preparing them for the future, but it’s actually prepared them for right now!”

Regardless of where and how learning happens, Rosproy maintains that there “has to be a real focus on relationships.”

“Because that’s what there is in life: me and you. That’s what’s important,” she said. Everything else—the literacy lessons, the deep dive into advanced math, and so on—relies on a positive, committed relationship between teacher and student. “The willingness to do the work comes from that connection that you and I have,” she said.