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Press Release

NEA member named 2021 National Teacher of the Year

Becky Pringle: We congratulate Juliana for nurturing a love of learning
Published: 05/06/2021

WASHINGTON—NEA member Juliana Urtubey, a southern Nevada special educator member, is the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. 

Known as “Ms. Earth” to her students and dedicated to what she calls “joyous and just education,” Urtubey, a National Board Certified teacher, serves as an instructional strategist and co-teacher in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas. She is known as Ms. Earth for her work with students in community gardens and other campus beautification projects.  

“Juliana embodies our core values that public schools and educators should inspire imagination, cultivate curiosity and critical thinking, and ensure all of our students can thrive and live fulfilling lives no matter their race, background, ZIP code or ability,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “She is working to nurture these values today and grow tomorrow’s inventors, artists, leaders, and, yes, educators. To Juliana, teaching is much more than a job. It’s a calling as she strives every day to connect with every student to discover their passions and potential.” 

“On behalf of the NEA’s more than three million members, we congratulate Juliana for nurturing a love of learning, helping students grow, and setting expectations for students that best meet their learning needs. Her work paves the way to ensure a better, brighter tomorrow for all of our students, no exceptions.”  

This morning, she was surprised in her classroom by First Lady Jill Biden. “Look at Juliana!” Biden exclaimed. “She’s just the epitome of a great teacher, a great educator.” 

“In a year that was easily one of the most challenging in all of our lives, Juliana has made a profound difference in the lives of her students as well as her community,” said Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) President Brian Rippet. “She is the epitome of what it means to be an educator. From her focus on educational equity, community gardens and murals, and social and behavioral growth, she is an inspiration to her students as well as a role model for all educators seeking to make a difference in the lives of children in Nevada. The NSEA family is extremely proud to have her representing our state and our union."

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced the four finalists for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year in January. CCSSO’s National Teacher of the Year program identifies exceptional teachers, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

 For more on Juliana:


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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators,students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at  


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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.