Historic honor: U.P. educator is first charter school teacher to be named a Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year

Buddy Moorehouse
May 6, 2020 3:07:34 PM

For the first time ever, a charter school teacher has been named a Regional Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education.


Tan-A Hoffman (pictured left), a second-grade teacher at the JKL Bahweting Anishnabe School in Sault Ste. Marie, was named the 2020-2021 Regional Teacher of the Year for Region 1, which includes the entire Upper Peninsula. The announcement was made Tuesday during Teacher Appreciation Week. The Michigan Department of Education named the 10 Regional Teachers of the Year, and those 10 are now in the running to be named the 2020-2021 Michigan Teacher of the Year. 

The JKL Bahweting Anishnabe School is a K-8 charter school authorized by Northern Michigan University. It serves a largely tribal population and puts a heavy emphasis on tribal education. The school was founded by the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians in 1994, and became a charter school in 1995.

Charter schools have been a part of the educational system in Michigan for 26 years, so this is long overdue, but it’s an important milestone,” Quisenberry said. “Charter schools have some of the most talented, innovative and dedicated educators in the state, so it’s refreshing to finally see a charter school teacher honored in this way. Tan-A Hoffman is a remarkable teacher at a remarkable school, and is highly deserving of this honor.

- MAPSA President, Dan Quisenberry

The surprise announcement that Hoffman was named a Regional Teacher of the Year was captured on video, as she received the news during an online meeting with school staff.

A graduate of Lake Superior State University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Hoffman has been teaching in the Upper Peninsula for 19 years, including the last 12 at the JKL Bahweting Anishnabe School. She started at the school as a reading recovery teacher, before moving to teaching fourth grade and then second grade.

She is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early and Middle Childhood Literacy: Reading-Language Arts and was elected to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. She is the media chair for the Michigan NBCT Network and co-founder of the Bureau of Indian Education National Board Certified Teacher Network. With her passion for Native American education, Hoffman is involved with the Teach to Lead project, with the goal to increase the number of NBCTs educating Native American students and empowering Native American communities.


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