JUNEAU (AP) -- Elementary teacher Vivian Montoya was named Alaska's top teacher for 2002 during a ceremony Friday in Anchorage.
Montoya, who teaches kindergarten and first grade at Harborview Elementary, will represent Alaska as a candidate for national honors.
Education and Early Development Commissioner Shirley Holloway announced the appointment during the annual meeting of the Association of Alaska School Boards.
''We look for outstanding teachers who put children first to serve as our First Teacher. Vivian Montoya stands at the top of her profession,'' Holloway said.
Montoya was named Juneau Teacher of the Year in August. Her term as Alaska Teacher of the Year begins Jan. 1.
Montoya has taught in the Juneau school district since 1985 and has been a teacher and a parent activity coordinator in Colorado, California and Indiana.
In receiving the award, Montoya thanked her students and their parents and praised her colleagues.
She currently teaches a ''looping class'' in which she keeps the same students for two consecutive years. She said that type of classroom structure allows her to become closer to students and their families.
''Parents become more comfortable turning to me for parenting advice and I am often invited to birthdays, soccer games, and religious ceremonies,'' she said in her application.
Harborview Principal Bob Dye praised Montoya for the award and said it has raised the spirits of the staff at her school.
''Everybody gets a smile on their face and winks when her name is mentioned,'' Dye said.
A statewide selection committee appointed by Holloway recommended Montoya from four finalists.
Rhonda Gardner, who teaches English at Chugiak High School in Anchorage, was appointed first alternate.
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