Linda Rost, a high school science teacher and the 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year, is working toward her doctorate in curriculum and instruction at Texas Tech University.
Rost is a science teacher at Baker High School in Baker, Montana, and was nominated for the national award after being honored in September as the 2020 Montana Teacher of the Year. At Texas Tech, she is working toward her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
"Teaching is my life's passion, so this award is incredibly meaningful. I was raised by passionate educators who instilled in me an insatiable hunger for learning, and I love infecting my students with that same passion," Rost said. "I hope that a doctorate from Texas Tech will really challenge and develop my research skills so I can more effectively teach my research students. Upon completion, I plan to teach pre-service teachers in undergraduate programs to help mitigate our current rural teacher shortage in Montana. I also am hoping to serve a greater role in some of the statewide, STEM professional-development grant programs as a researcher and grant writer."
The highly prestigious National Teacher of the Year award is given annually by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to identify exceptional teachers nationwide, celebrate their effective work in and outside of the classroom, amplify their voices and empower them to take part in policy discussions at the state and national levels.
The 2020 National Teacher of the Year will be selected this spring by the 2020 National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. The chosen educator will spend the next year traveling the country as an ambassador for education and an advocate for all teachers and students. Each year, since 1952, the National Teacher of the Year has been recognized by the White House in the spring.
"Linda Rost is a strong advocate for education and is especially focused on finding solutions that would address the shortage of qualified STEM educators for rural schools," said Shirley Matteson, an associate professor and interim associate dean for research and faculty/staff development in the College of Education. "Not only that, Linda also is focused on solving STEM issues that are global in nature. For example, during the Global STEM Education course, she shared plans to have her students look at climate change issues in collaboration with international partnerships."
Rost is the chair of the Baker Public Schools Professional Development Committee, which she started in 2018 to focus on STEM and Indian Education for All (IEFA) K-12 collaborations and grant projects. Passed in 1999 as Montana state law, IEFA encourages all Montanans to learn about American Indian heritage in a culturally responsive manner.
She serves as a teacher trainer for the Montana Partnerships with Regions for Excellence in STEM (MPRES) and the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline (NESSP) grants. She is a three-time winner of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Teacher Award, a two-time Continental Cares grant recipient and the 2016 National Vernier Engineering Contest winner.
Rost facilitated a successful science research program at Carter County High School in Ekalaka, Montana, from 2007 to 2014, and she started the program in Baker in 2014. During her 12-year career in education, 22 of her students have competed at national or international science competitions.