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Congratulations, Nicole Butler-Hooton!

My mission is to create an environment where all students feel they belong. I will continue my efforts each day to be an educator who makes a difference for equity and social justice.

Nicole Butler-Hooton

Nicole Butler-Hooton is a Siletz and Apache tribal member committed to the values of family, friendships, community and growth, both in and outside of her classroom. Butler-Hooton was raised in a small coastal town, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Ethnic Studies from the University of Oregon, and was awarded the Sapsik’ʷałá grant provided to high performing Native American students striving to earn a Master’s Degree in Education. After completing her Master’s, Butler-Hooton starting teaching second grade at Irving Elementary in Bethel which has been her work home for 14 years. Her vibrant, inclusive and culturally competent teaching style is highly respected and supported by the school community. She is Eugene/Springfield’s local representative for the Oregon Indian Educator Association and is also a local expert in Bethel, mentoring and coaching student teachers and colleagues.

“Every day, Nicole demonstrates how inclusive and cultural competent education has the power to shape our future for generations to come,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Her seamless incorporation of equity into the classroom sets an example for us all, as we work to make Oregon a welcoming place that sets every student up for success from cradle to career.”

“The trust Nicole establishes with students and families is invaluable for meeting needs both seen and unseen,” said Director Colt Gill. “Nicole centers equity in every aspect of her instruction and outreach, honoring the cultures of each home represented in her class. Her leadership and expertise will be an incredible benefit this school year as we navigate unfamiliar conditions and strive to support every learner.”

In a letter of recommendation, Butler-Hooton was described as “a shining example of a teacher,” supporting the individual and diverse needs of students and families, collecting and analyzing data to advocate for students, and fostering a classroom community where students become leaders.

“I’m always looking for ways to show my students and families that we are a village,” said Butler-Hooton. “My hope is that these offerings, these sentiments, these actions, this TIME is a way to transcend learning and love beyond the classroom. Home to school connection is beyond valuable and it is imperative to my practice as an educator.”

Read the full press release.


Follow Nicole on Facebook at Nicole Butler, Twitter @ButlerHooton or on Instagram at nbutlertoy2021.

I truly have never seen a teacher like Mrs. Butler; her unwavering dedication to be the best teacher and person she can be, her classroom management, her kind hearted spirit, and her desire to connect with and change the lives of students in a positive way.

Kristin King, Bethel Education Foundation

Students, and their academic achievement and perseverance, are Nicole’s utmost priority. She teaches with purpose and a caring sense of determination; students know what is expected of them and know their teacher believes in them.

Chris Parra, Bethel Superintendent

Previous Winners

Profile photo of Mercedes Muñoz

Mercedes Muñoz

Franklin High School



Mercedes Muñoz

Mercedes Muñoz

  • School: Franklin High School
  • Teaches: Special Education
  • Grade Level: 11-12

“While being an educator can be daunting, tiresome, and even frustrating--the great moments are what we live, breathe, and die for.”
Profile photo of Keri Pilgrim

Keri Pilgrim

Churchill High School



Keri Pilgrim

Keri Pilgrim

  • School: Churchill High School
  • Teaches: Health Services Pathway
  • Grade Level: High School

Profile photo of Matthew Bacon-Brenes

Matthew Bacon-Brenes

Mt. Tabor Middle School



Matthew Bacon-Brenes

Matthew Bacon-Brenes

  • School: Mt. Tabor Middle School
  • Teaches: Japanese
  • Grade Level: K-8

How Nominations Work

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Nominate a Teacher

Know a great teacher? Fill out the nomination form and tell us what makes them exceptional!

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Teacher of the Year Applications

We notify qualifying nominees and invite them to apply for Teacher of the Year.

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Regional Teachers of the Year Selected

Each of Oregon’s 19 Education Service Districts review applications from their area and choose a winner for their region.

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Oregon Teacher of the Year Selected

Finalists are chosen from among the regional winners, and then the designated candidate will be recommended to the Director of the Oregon Department of Education as the next Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Nominations for 2024-25 have closed! Check back in the fall when we announce the Regional Teachers of the Year!