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Flash Mob celebrates Regional Teacher of the Year, retiring educator

Tia McLean is the Southern Oregon Regional Teacher of the Year. At her celebratory assembly, students also surprised Valerie McCoy with a flash mob hula dance, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Posted: May 21, 2019 3:04 PM
Updated: May 21, 2019 6:58 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- A teacher at Helman Elementary School is the 2020 Southern Oregon Regional Teacher of the Year.

Tia McClean is a kindergarten teacher, and she's now in the running for the 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year. That will be announced in September.

"The great honor of teaching and learning is that we get to continue that cycle for generations and generations," McClean said.

Students, faculty and staff celebrated in an assembly at the school Tuesday morning.

Hula is a large part of McClean's life. During the ceremony, she and another teacher -- Valerie McCoy -- performed for the students. After that dance, Valerie learned this ceremony was also for, celebrating her retirement. 

"She is very humble," Michelle Cuddeback, principal of Helman Elementary School, said laughing. "We knew we would never be able to have a retirement celebration unless we surprised her."

McClean said McCoy has long been her mentor. She adds McCoy taught her students a special hula dance. McClean then taught that dance to every student and teacher in the school. They surprised McCoy with that dance today.

"My heart just opened to see them all do that," McCoy said. "I have taught my classes for years, but Tia went around and taught every single student and teacher -- it was wonderful."

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