Alaska’s Danielle Riha is one of 4 finalists for National Teacher of the Year

Danielle Riha, the 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year, has been selected as one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

The 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Danielle Riha teaches at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage, and was selected as the Alaska Teacher of the Year in October. Riha began her career in Togiak and New Stuyahok and has been at the charter school since its founding 11 years ago. She says the values she learned while living in rural Alaska are a vital part of her teaching today.

“I teach it. I teach my kids, we model, how to work together in a way that promotes positivity,” Riha said. “And everybody that works here does that, and when I worked in the village, I felt the same thing.”

Riha will take those values to Washington D.C. in the spring for the national competition. Riha says she’s excited to share with the other three nominees, and learn from their experience as teachers.

“I’m meeting people that understand how I feel cause we’re all in the same boat,” Riha said. “And we can share our stories and build on our wealth of knowledge to bring back to share with our other staff members and students.”

Through the years, Alaska has had seven national finalists — and Elaine Griffin of Kodiak won in 1995. Riha will find out if she was selected in April.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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