Kent Fielding is one of four Alaskan teachers still in the running for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year award.

Alongside the longtime Skagway teacher are finalists Karen Martin of Tri-Valley School in the Denali Borough School District, Eric Rush of Ticasuk Brown Elementary in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and Ben Walker of Romig Middle School in the Anchorage School District.

“It’s an honor to recognize these exceptional teachers,” Alaska Education Commissioner Michael Johnson said in a press release. “Mr. Fielding, Ms. Martin, Mr. Rush and Mr. Walker are models of outstanding teaching and leadership, and selflessly serve their students and their communities.”

Fielding has taught high school English and history in the Skagway School District for 12 of his 18 years in the education field. In addition to teaching, he has coached regional and state champions in cross-country, track and field and drama, debate and forensics (DDF).

Fielding was also one of the teacher chaperones in spring 2017 for the recent Climate Change Project trip to the Marshall Islands. On that trip, students attended the First National Oceans Symposium, met influential leaders in the Marshall Islands – including Marshallese President Hilda Heine – and were immersed in a new culture beyond Skagway’s borders.

Skagway School Board President John Hischer said Fielding does an “amazing job,” especially when it comes to inspiring students to interact with the world.

Hischer also mentioned the guests that Fielding draws to speak at the school as another appreciated quality.

“He knows so many different people from all walks of life, and he brings them to Skagway,” Hischer said. “We had a mime from Lebanon, he [Fielding] had a photographer from the UN come in and do a course about just telling stories through photography…all these kind of really interesting people coming in and interacting with the community and the kids, and really showing them what a huge world it is out there.”

Cecilia Miller with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development said the interviews with the four finalists will begin on Sept. 22 in Anchorage, with an announcement of the winner to follow at the end of September, or early October.