HOPWOOD Middle School educator Dr. Riya Nathrani is the 2022 Public School System Teacher of the Year, education officials announced on Thursday at Kagman Elementary School.

“This is the first time for me (to be nominated) and this is such a huge honor,” Nathrani said in an interview Thursday.

“While I appreciate being acknowledged, what I value in my classroom are really my students. The impact that teachers make every day is something that I look forward to when I enter the class,” she told Variety.

Nathrani has been with the Public School System for six years now, and is currently a seventh grade Computer Literacy and Automation & Robotics teacher at Hopwood.

She graduated class valedictorian from Northern Marianas College with a degree in education. She obtained her master of education degree in international teaching from Framingham State University and has a doctorate in education degree in digital transformation from Capella University.

Nathrani’s mother could not hide her joy for her daughter’s success: “She really deserves this. She is really hardworking,” she added.

Five finalists

Acting Commissioner of Education Eric M. Magofna said the selection process for the award has always been tough and rigorous.

Each of the 20 public elementary, middle and high schools on Saipan, Tinian and Rota submitted nominees to the CNMI-level competition.

The selection committee then selected the five finalists. Besides Nathrani, they were Jennifer Villagomez of Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School, Victoria Aldan of San Vicente Elementary School, Michael Mercado of Saipan Southern High School, and Koniko Nakazato of Francisco M. Sablan Middle School.

The selection committee members were former Board of Education Chairman Herman T. Guerrero, Catherine Perry of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Mildred Sablan of the CNMI Scholarship Office, Roberta Guerrero of Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, and Dr. Beylul Solomon of Northern Marianas College.

PSS Human Resources Officer Lucretia B. Deleon Guerrero said the selection process begins at the school-level, with teachers, school administrators and Parent-Teacher-and-Student Association officers as members of the selection committee.

“When the nomination is submitted for the CNMI-level competition, the (PSS-Human Resources Office) ensures that nominees are given the opportunity to submit their entries, which include their answers to hard and tough questions from the National Teacher of the Year Committee,” Deleon Guerrero said.

For winning the award, Nathrani was presented with the 2022 PSS Teacher of the Year custom plaque, a gift basket and a perpetual trophy.

She will also have the opportunity to attend and participate in events and activities planned by the Chief State School Officers.

“This is an opportunity for our PSS educators through Nathrani to shine at the national level,” acting Commissioner Magofna said.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our selection committee for wholeheartedly accepting this tough job of selecting the best among the best of our educators,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of his BOE colleagues, Chairman Andrew Orsini congratulated Nathrani, the other four finalists, and all PSS educators/teachers.

“Congratulations to each and every one of you. We all know you are all hardworking and committed in what you all do. Continue what you are doing — giving our students quality teaching,” the BOE chairman said.

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A bachelor of arts in journalism graduate, he started his career as a police beat reporter. Loves to cook. Eats death threats for breakfast.

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