Michelle Cottrell-Williams (she/her) is the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She considers herself a disruptor and hopes to empower others to rethink the status quo. Michelle teaches high school social studies in Arlington, Virginia. As an educator, she considers herself lucky to get to spend every day with incredible teens who are finding their voices and preparing to change the world.
Michelle has taught many different subjects and levels of students but is most passionate about teaching social justice and supporting English learners. Here, she finds the greatest opportunities to support students who sometimes struggle to feel like they belong. She was inspired by the work of Brené Brown to focus on forming relationships with students built on vulnerability, trust and empathy.
If Michelle had to choose which animal best represents her personality, it would have to be a unicorn: part glitter, part rebel.