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Understood Mentor Fellow Juliana Urtubey named 2021 National Teacher of the Year


Urtubey is first Latin American teacher awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers since 2005

On May 6, 2021, Understood Mentor Fellow Juliana Urtubey was named the 2021 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Since 2018, Urtubey has worked with Understood to help educators across the country support children with learning and thinking differences. Urtubey is the first Latin American National Teacher of the Year since 2005 and first National Teacher of the Year from Nevada.

“Kids with thinking and learning differences have so many possibilities, so much potential,” said Urtubey after receiving the recognition on CBS This Morning. “It’s just my job to find it, make them believe it, and then help them grow.”

Juliana was a member of the inaugural class of Understood Teacher Fellows in 2018–2019. She continues to serve as a Mentor Fellow to other teachers in the fellowship program — guiding them on their journeys to support students who learn and think differently. She is a valued contributor to Understood’s resources for educators and families, particularly by sharing her expertise on building relationships with families of students who learn and think differently.

“Being a teacher fellow helped me envision a world where students and families are greeted with strength-based approaches,” Urtubey recently shared about her experience with Understood’s Teacher Fellowship. “I learned how to improve learning environments and attitudes so that my students can see the same potential I see in them.”  

“Juliana is testament to the critical role teachers play in influencing and supporting the lives of kids who learn and think differently,” said Fred Poses, CEO of Understood. “Understood is incredibly proud of Juliana and we thank her for all she has done for the 1 in 5 as she continues to shape the world for difference.” 

Urtubey currently is an educator at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. She co-teaches in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade special education settings, where many of her students are English language learners. She also serves as an instructional strategist developing schoolwide multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for academic, social-emotional, and behavioral interventions. During her 10 years as an educator, she has also been a special education teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Las Vegas.

Urtubey is also the 2020–2021 Nevada Teacher of the Year and a National Board Certified Teacher. She holds a BA in elementary education with bilingual education certification and an MA in bilingual special education, both from the University of Arizona.

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