Local teachers named 2 of top 3 finalists for 2023’s Indiana Teacher of the Year

Jason Beer (left) Tara Cocanower (right) have been named as finalists for Indiana’s Teacher of...
Jason Beer (left) Tara Cocanower (right) have been named as finalists for Indiana’s Teacher of the Year program(Southwest Allen County Schools, Bluffton-Harrison MSD)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 3:08 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Two area teachers have been named as finalists for Indiana’s Teacher of the Year program for their roles in making a difference in the lives of Hoosier students.

Jason Beer, an English teacher from Homestead High School, and Tara Cocanower, a world history and AP U.S. history teacher from Bluffton High School were selected by a committee made up of former Teachers of the Year, The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) staff, educational organization leaders, business and community leaders and representatives from higher education.

Beer, a Fort Wayne native, has been a teacher for 14 years and has taught at Homestead for seven. The IDOE says he helps students cross the finish line to graduation by teaching classes like Advanced Placement and honors English to credit recovery English courses.

Additionally, they say he works to help his students learn to love poetry and build their public speaking skills by leading the Poetry Out Loud program for his school.

Cocanower, a teacher for the past 11 years, served two years in the Peace Corps. According to the IDOE, this service-driven mindset helps her to encourage students to actively serve their community by being what she refers to as “world changers.”

Cocanower’s students also achieved an 85% pass rate on the 2022 AP U.S. History exam, where the state average is 45%, the department says.

According to the release, the Indiana Teacher of the Year’s mission is to inspire, rejuvenate, and celebrate the teaching profession by recognizing outstanding teachers across the state. The program encourages schools to nominate their local Teachers of the Year for this statewide honor.

The official winner will be announced in October.