Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa went all out today to celebrate English teacher Sarah Brown Wessling. It wasn’t her birthday or retirement; Wessling had just been named National Teacher of the Year. President Barack Obama feted Wessling last week, during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden that was also attended by teachers of the year from every state. Wessling says everything she does in the class flows from a philosophy of student-centered learning. Her students don’t just write essays, they write songs, public service announcements, grant proposals, and film storyboards. And Wessling also brings students and the community together. “Students construct knowledge when it is relevant to them, when they have a real and authentic purpose, when they have an audience that gives them context,” writes Wessling. Read more about the Teacher of the Year program and get a link to Wessling’s candidate application.