Skip to Content

Educators Who Change Lives

The Making of a Great Teacher

A few words on Washington’s teacher of the year, from his mentor.

By Frank Manthou, English teacher at Kentwood High School, Kent, Washington.

Jay Maebori (left) and Frank Manthou

Photo by Ellen Banner

If anyone had told me a decade ago that Jay Maebori would now be Washington state’s teacher of the year, I would have told them they were . . . right. When we first met, more than a decade ago, Jay was a sportswriter for the Kent News Journal and I was operating the scoreboard for the Seattle Mariners, as well as serving as athletic director of Kentwood High School. We struck up a good friendship based largely on our shared beliefs about what was in the best interest of students and athletes. 

I was also head of the English department at the time, and as Jay worked to change careers I was certain that his dedication to educating young people would make him an excellent colleague at Kentwood. We hired him on his last day of student teaching at another school.  We were that certain of his future success in teaching.

His career in journalism gave Jay a confidence rarely seen in new teachers. He has an innate ability to see the big picture in his classroom, analyze, and make changes as he goes. I saw Jay soak up all that I and other mentors had to offer. Each night he put in extra hours to produce the most effective lessons. Each day his students report on the “Thing I Learned” in their interactive student notebooks. And he’s not just outstanding in class, but also a concerned educator who works the door at basketball games, coaches tennis, and takes opportunities to make connections with students.

One thing Jay may not realize is what he’s given me: hope. I will soon leave the profession after 36 years, and educators like Jay are a bright light to the future.


Published in:

Published In