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Deaf Education Educator Named Ohio Teacher of the Year

Mar 15, 2021
by Sydney Gorak '21

It was during his childhood that Flagler College alumnus Anthony Coy-Gonzalez first developed a passion for sign language and the deaf community. A girl who was deaf moved into his neighborhood, and as they became good friends, he found himself learning more and more how to sign in order to break the language barrier that separated them. It was an experience that always stuck with him.

Anthony Coy-Gonzalez working with students on a science experiment.

It led him in college to major in Deaf Education, and then to begin a career as a Deaf Education teacher. His passion, partly spawned by that experience in middle school, has now landed him the distinction of being named Ohio’s 2021 Teacher of the Year for his dedication to education, and more importantly, his students.

Coy-Gonzalez called the honor very surreal and humbling, and one that he hopes will help him better represent Ohio’s students and teachers. He also hopes he can use the recognition to become an advocate for equity, teacher empowerment and partnerships within the community.

“For me, I feel like I’m just like every other teacher,” he said. “We have a state full of amazing teachers who are inspiring to me and my students, and I’m blown away by a lot of teachers that I’ve interacted with.”

Coy-Gonzalez graduated from Flagler with a Bachelor's in Deaf Education in 2013 and he returned to Ohio to teach, finding what he felt was a unique group of students that could not only learn from him, but that could also help him grow and learn as a teacher.

He continued that drive to always learn when Flagler introduced its master’s degree in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 2016, becoming one of the online program's graduates in 2018. He said the coursework was extremely beneficial.

“The program was amazing – lots of positive experiences, and relevant to what I was doing in the classrooms and relevant to the needs of the students,” he said.

Coy-Gonzalez said learning from and partnering with St. Augustine’s deaf community in college and in Ohio has been a tremendously positive experience. His proudest moments have been in seeing students who once struggled with taking the lead on activities begin to find leadership roles and gain the confidence to shine in front of the entire class. These experiences show growth and the ability for students to come out of their shells, something he says is vital to their success.

He plans to continue teaching in Ohio, where he feels most at home and has developed a close connection with the staff, students, families and the community.

He has also launched #TeacherDreams on Twitter where teachers can post dreams they have for their classrooms, schools, districts and students. He hopes to use this hashtag as a way to connect teachers with resources, networking and opportunities.

“My dream is simply this: that all children can dream, and that the pursuit of our dreams makes that possible,” he said.

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