Educators Paige Sjoerdsma of Butler Lab School 55 and DaMeisha Fleming of James Whitcomb Riley 43 have been recognized by Indianapolis Public Schools as the district’s Teacher of the Year.

This is the first time there have been two IPS Teacher of the Year winners — one representing the elementary school category (grades K-6) and the other representing the secondary school category (grades 7-12).

The educators were honored in ceremonies at their respective schools during a “surprise” announcement made in front of administrators, staff, and students.

“Sjoerdsma and Fleming represent the district’s best in effective teaching, excellent instruction, and outstanding accomplishments in the class,” said IPS Supt. Dr. Aleesia Johnson.

Sjoerdsma teaches middle school English Language Arts after previously serving as an educator for kindergarten through third grade. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Butler University and her master’s degree in public school building leadership from the Teachers College Columbia University.

Sjoerdsma, who is a founding member of the IPS/Butler Lab School’s Racial Equity Team, firmly believes that all children deserve access to high-quality educational experiences. 

Fleming has taught first grade for the past five years at James Whitcomb Riley School 43. Also, during her career, she has taught fourth and fifth grades.

In addition to teaching, she also coaches several sports, tutors and serves in numerous leadership roles at her school. Fleming has been a mentor teacher training the next generation of educators for the past three years. She is currently enrolled in a graduate program at IUPUI where she continues her education in urban education.

Each IPS principal was invited to nominate the building’s top educator for consideration. The selection committee, consisting of a group of peers, reviewed each nominee’s portfolio, including their teaching philosophy, professional accomplishments and instructional practices.  

Each winner will receive a Group Gourmet Chocolate Tasting Experience from DeBrand Fine Chocolates and a flower bouquet from The Flower Box.