On Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Education named Rosa Floyd its 2023 Oregon Teacher of the Year.
Floyd teaches bilingual immersion kindergarten at Nellie Muir Elementary School in Woodburn. She has taught at that school for 16 years and within the Woodburn school district for 22 years.
A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Floyd started a Mexican folkloric dance group two decades ago which she still leads for students, staff and parents within the district. She sees the dance performances as a way to learn about the heritage and cultural traditions reflected within the large Spanish-speaking community the district serves.
“A lot of our students that are from Mexico … I want (them) to have the experience to do something related with the culture,” she said. “My students that are not from Mexico, they’re from here, they (have) the opportunity to learn about other cultures.”
The dance group has been invited to perform at other schools, festivals and at a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game, which Floyd said they plan to do again next year.
The vice-principal and principal of Nellie Muir nominated Floyd to receive the teacher of the year award. They were seated next to her at the award ceremony held on Wednesday at Woodburn High School which was also attended by Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill.
Although she was “totally surprised” to learn she had won, Floyd sees her victory as sending a powerful message to the community of educators and students in Woodburn.
“Being Latina, coming from Mexico, if I’m able to get this, everybody can do it,” she said. “I want the students to understand that they can get any place they want to, and that education gives them freedom.”
Rosa Floyd spoke to “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller. Click play to listen to the full conversation: