Pasco Teacher Named ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pasco Teacher Named ESD 123 Regional Teacher of the Year

Posted: Updated:

PASCO, Wash. -- For the seventh time in nine years a Pasco teacher has been named the Education Service District 123 Regional Teacher of the Year.

Former Angelou Elementary Two-Way Dual Language kindergarten teacher Bernice "Bernie" Hanan, who currently teaches at Chiawana High School, will compete for the Washington State 2014 Teacher of the Year title in late September.

"You don't get here by yourself," says Hanan of the honor. "It is due to the help and guidance of those who have been here before and have mentored and shared with me."

After spending the last twelve years teaching five-year-olds, Hanan started this school year at Chiawana High School, where she is a Spanish teacher. Teaching has been her life, says Hanan. "I never grow tired of seeing the world through the eyes of children and watching the wonderment as they are exposed to new ideas and concepts," she states. "Seeing that light bulb come on is always a thrill. My job is never dull. For me teaching is not just a vocation, it is the driving force in my life."

Over the last thirty years of her career Hanan has taught Kindergarten through 4th grade and Spanish at the secondary and college levels at public and Christian schools. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Eastern Africa in Kenya and has established, coordinated, and guided student mission trips to Africa and Latin America to build schools and churches.


The daughter of farm workers with little formal education, Hanan credits several of her own teachers with having meaningful influence on her and giving her direction in life. Her fourth grade teacher saw her potential, always encouraged her, and inspired her to be a teacher. A professor at Walla Walla University was another teacher who genuinely cared about her and never gave up on her, even when she had to quit school a few credits short to work and save money to finish college. 

Hanan's greatest accomplishments in teaching are the successes of her students, she says. She strives for her students to build connections to each other and the world. As a Two Way Dual Language teacher, for example, she paired kindergarteners into two-student teams of English and Spanish speakers. Through this process they learned to value their partner and, by extension the culture of their partner. Hanan believes the power of education is learning that everyone has value and the power to improve the world.

Hanan is very active in the District, her church, and her community. She teaches at the annual Spanish Camp for District employees and has worked with her school's PEAK! partner Kadlec Clinic to provide health awareness presentations to kindergartners. At Angelou Elementary, she held regular parent meetings and provided mini lessons to parents on how to best help their students as they learn in a new language. Through her church, Hanan is involved in Pathfinders, a character and skill-building organization for young people. She runs in and volunteers for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and helped establish the Tri-Cities Diaper Bank, which began as a small resource for low-income families who could not access daycare without supplying their own diapers and has grown to a large organization with its own board of directors and a host of funders. She has also volunteered as a translator at Grace Clinic helping to bridge communication for low income, uninsured Tri-Citians. She has been able to involve local doctors and dentists in pro bono work with local families and students through this relationship.

By expanding her life experiences through travel and service, Hanan is able to share her knowledge with her students while, she hopes, whetting their appetites for wanting to do the same. In or outside the classroom, Hanan provides her students with the skills to be caring citizens of the world.

Hanan joins fellow Pasco School District Regional Teacher of the Year winners Jaime Silva (2012), John Kerr (2011), Aimee Simington-Pearce (2010), Toni Cuello (2009), Laura Jones (2008), and Teri Perez (2006). Jones was also named Washington state teacher of the year for 2008.