Stephen Rand. Facebook photo.

Harwood Union English teacher Stephen Rand is a finalist for Vermont Teacher of the Year 2016. The Agency of Education announced the award last week. Rand teaches grades 9 through 12.

Susan Koch, a Union Elementary School kindergarten and first-grade teacher, has been selected as the 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year. The alternate teacher of the year is Anne Marie Mahar, a science and biology teacher for grades 11 and 12 at Rutland High School.

Rand has been teaching at Harwood Union since 1999. In addition to teaching English, he is the director of the school’s Rwanda Program and developed a three-week travel study and elective course around Rwanda and the 1994 genocide titled Stories of Hope. He has been head of the English department at Harwood since 2007.

As part of his work with the Rwanda program, Rand has successfully written and received numerous grants. Additionally, he has worked with the Harwood Restorative Justice Project, chaired the parent communications committee, presented at Youth Town Meeting 2009, at the National Service-Learning conference in 2010 and 2011 and at a variety of other educational conferences.

Rand served as the school climate committee chair at Harwood in 2013-2014 and is a member of the Harwood Leadership Team for the League of Innovative Schools from 2013 to the present.

Rand, who lives in Waterbury, has also been the district service learning coordinator, assembly program coordinator and student government adviser and served in the U.S. Navy from 1990 to 1995.

He was the Harwood Union Teacher of the Year in 2004, the Veterans of Foreign War Teacher of the Year in 2005, a nominee for Cable’s National Media Teacher award in 2006 and received the University of Vermont Allbee Award for accomplished writing as well as the Navy Achievement Medal for supervision of TARPS missions during Operation Southern Watch during the Persian Gulf War.

Koch, Mahar and Rand will be honored by the Vermont State Board of Education at an event on November 17. Rebecca Haslam of Champlain Elementary School is the current 2015 Vermont Teacher of the Year. Koch’s tenure as 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year will begin January 1.

Since 1964, Vermont has participated in this program recognizing outstanding teachers. For more information about the Vermont Teacher of the Year program, go to