A history teacher at Bluffton High School is the 2023 Indiana Teacher of the Year. The Indiana Department of Education says Tara Cocanower is “the embodiment of someone who was truly meant to be a teacher.”
She teaches world history and AP World History, and leads Bluffton High School’s history club. The IDOE says Cocanower’s classroom efforts have helped standardized testing results.
This year, her students achieved an 83% pass rate on the AP World History exam, where the state average is 48%.
“When you see the way she connects with her students, it is clear to those around her that in addition to maximizing student learning, she is positively impacting lives and preparing her students to do the same,” said Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “By believing in her students and being a trusted mentor, she is empowering the next generation of leaders and, as she calls them, world changers.”
As the state winner, Cocanower will now compete for national honors.
Cocanower was one of three finalists for the award, having been selected from a committee comprised of former Teacher of the Year winners, IDOE staff, and educational organization leaders.
The other two finalists were Jason Beer, an English teacher at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne and Joshua DeBeard, a social studies teacher at Lebanon High School.
In addition to her teaching role at Bluffton High School, Cocanower serves as the head coach for both the girls golf team and the girls track and field team.