INDIANAPOIS (WANE) – The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has announced the top three finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year.

“We all remember the teachers who made a difference in our lives,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “For most of us, the impact goes beyond the knowledge and skills they imparted, and is rooted in how these teachers inspired us and believed in us. Great teachers change lives, and these three incredible educators are difference-makers for so many of our students — past, present and future.”

Courtesy of IDOE

Indiana’s top three Teacher of the Year finalists are:

Lisa Clegg is an English language learner (ELL) teacher at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne. As an educator, now in her ninth year of teaching, she is passionate about student connections, community and the importance of making sure every voice is heard. Clegg is innovative in her methodology and values student achievement both inside and outside of the classroom. During her time at Northrop High School, Clegg’s ELL students have nearly doubled district average gains in language acquisition. Additionally, she has implemented an ELL peer mentor program that ensures each student in her program has the tools to succeed.

Courtesy of IDOE

Sarah TeKolste is a Spanish teacher at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. TeKolste, now in her sixth year of teaching, is a bilingual and international educator who has taught Spanish in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma and Mid-Years programmes. She also leads Shortridge’s inaugural Peer Mentoring cohort, the World Changing 101 virtual speaker series, and the Service Learning component of the IB Career-Related Programme. TeKolste led IPS in promoting the Indiana Certificate of Multilingual Proficiency, which 40 Shortridge students have now earned, and she serves as faculty advisor for the National Spanish Honor Society at Shortridge.

Courtesy of IDOE

Sharita Ware is an engineering and technology teacher at East Tipp Middle School in Lafayette. Ware worked in engineering and marketing before becoming a teacher, and is now in her 10th year of teaching. Ware is an Indiana Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow in the STEM Goes Rural Program at Purdue University. She spends her days challenging her students with real-world, problem-based design problems that will help them contribute in today’s global technological world. Ware also hosts afterschool programs such as FIRST Lego League, The Monday Maker Hour and March Maker Magic, giving kids an outlet to be innovative and creative.

The Indiana Teacher of the Year will be announced in October. The department said they will work to help elevate the teaching profession in Indiana and represent Hoosier teachers at the national level.

Finalists are selected from 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.

More information about the Indiana Teacher of the Year program can be found here