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ISTA Honors Educators

Recognition for excellence in teaching and public education advocacy.

The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) is committed to highlighting the best in public education. At the ISTA Representative Assembly, ISTA President Teresa Meredith honored several public educators and advocates with awards reflecting their dedication to public schools. 

"ISTA is proud of our three honorees," said Meredith. "Each demonstrates a unique commitment to public education and aims to provide kids in every public school with access to a quality education." 


Deborah Argenta was named the Hoosier Educator of the Year. Argenta currently teaches at Jonas E. Salk Elementary in Merrillville. She has taught elementary and intermediate level art for 38 years. Throughout her career, Argenta has initiated and led recognition programs to inspire students to pursue art education. Her leadership skills have also translated to association leadership having served in several roles in her local association. The Hoosier Educator of the Year award is supported by Horace Mann. As this year's honoree, Argenta was awarded $2,500. 

Tiauna Washington was honored with the Minority Educator Award. This award recognizes the important role minority educators play in shaping students' education, and particularly students of color. Washington teaches science at Hibberd Intermediate in Richmond. Her extensive education has made her a versatile educator - moving easily from history, math remediation, health and science disciplines. Washington is committed to teaching the whole student. 

In his nomination of Washington, Richard Shroyer, math and science teacher at Hibberd Intermediate, said, "She is their science teacher, but she is also their guide to being a responsible young adult. She teaches her students to solve problems, not just in science class, but in their own lives. Ms. Washington is a great science teacher, but her best contribution to her students is as an amazing role model." 

Dr. Victor A. Smith was honored with the Friend of Education Award. Although Smith retired from teaching in 2009, he remains a leading voice in advocating for public education. In 2011, Smith founded the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. The establishment of this organization has activated community leaders, parents and educators across the state to advocate for community public schools in the Statehouse. Smith is one of Indiana's most visible, recognized and respected public education advocates.