Spokane Lilac Festival Royal Court Honor Teachers of the Year

Members of the Spokane Lilac Festival “Our Town” Royal Court have selected seven teachers to be honored as a part of the 2022 Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

The Lilac Festival is committed to the continued education of our Royalty Court and celebrates those who helped shape into the young women they have and will become. Founded in the early 2000 by Festival Director Russ Brown, a long-time educator, the Teacher of the Year program was created to celebrate the teachers going the extra mile to ensure bright futures for their students.

Annually, each member of the Royal Court selects a teacher who most influenced them throughout their high school experience. Recipients are presented a plaque and certificate at their school alongside the Festival’s President and are also invited to attend the Queen’s Luncheon during festival week on May 20. GESA Credit Union is the 2022 sponsor of the program.

The 2022 Teachers of the Year are:

  • Tamara Kennedy-Gibbens – Mead High School
  • Karen Round – Gonzaga Preparatory School
  • Kaysha Reinhart – University High School
  • Craig Johnson – Medical Lake High School
  • Mary Pratt – Cheney High School
  • Andy Mattson – The Oaks Classical Christian Academy
  • Emily Torres – Ferris High School

The Queen and six Princesses submit an essay that describes the reasons for their nomination. Queen Janna said this of Tamara Kennedy-Gibbens, “Mead High School is all about belonging, and this amazing teacher really embodies this so admirably. She has made students like me feel welcomed and that we belong.”

Belonging and support were a common theme in many of this year’s selectees. “This teacher has served as a great role model for me since the first day I met her,” said Princess Ryan of Karen Round. “Beyond academics, I never once had doubts that she cared for me as a student and a person.”

Princess Velerie said of her selection Craig Johnson, “This teacher never lets a student leave the room with anything less than they came with. Their kind words and genuine empathy and care for their students never wavers and ensure that students never leave the building unhappy.”

In 2022, the selected teachers had the opportunity to ride alongside the Royal Court on a KC – 135 refueling aircraft as guests of 141st Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base.

The honorees are invited to ride as a VIP in the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade on Saturday May 21, 7:45 p.m. in downtown Spokane. To read the 2022 honoree essays and view photos of the presentations, visit here.