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Las Vegas Elementary Teacher Named Best In Nation

John Locher/Associated Press

Booker Elementary School teacher Juliana Urtubey works with A'Real Wilkerson-Lay. Urtubey was recently named national teacher of the year.

Nevada takes its lumps when it comes to educational rankings, but this year the state is home to the national teacher of the year.

Juliana Urtubey works as a special education teacher for kindergarten through fifth grade at Booker Elementary School in Las Vegas.

The Colombia native says her mother’s struggles to find her a good school when they moved to Chicago inspired her to become an educator.

“I wanted to be a teacher that really created the space for kids to be exactly who they are,” she told State of Nevada.

After winning the honor from the Council of Chief State School Officers, Urtubey said she wants to share the sense of inclusion that’s fostered at Booker, an inner-city school that has an enrollment split between Black and Hispanic students.

Along with “teacher of the year,” Urtubey is also known as "Ms. Earth" for her efforts to beautify schools with gardens, which she says bring students, teachers, and parents together.

“Every single step of the ways we invited families,” who helped design, build, and tend the gardens at Booker, one of the oldest campuses in Las Vegas.


Juliana Urtubey, educator, Booker Elementary School

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Kristen Kidman is the senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.