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2023 Indiana Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Tara Cocanower is a World History teacher at Bluffton High School. She is also the 2023 Indiana Teacher of the Year.

She has been an educator for 13 years and is in her ninth year with Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School
District, where she teaches World History and Advanced Placement World History. Mrs. Cocanower was the 2022 Educator of the Year for BHMSD. 

“I choose to work at Bluffton,” Mrs. Cocanower says. “We have good people who love kids well.”

Her teaching style has been described as innovative, fun and inspiring. “Through every aspect of her life, she intentionally builds relationships,” her BHMSD Educator of the Year announcement says . “At the ending of each day, Mrs. Cocanower demonstrates a life well lived with a commitment to others.”

As a BHS teacher, Mrs. Cocanower serves as the high ability coordinator, often presenting educational research to faculty; a technology coordinator, encouraging and demonstrating the use of technology to enhance learning; and the girls’ golf and track and field coach, mentoring student-athletes outside the classroom setting.

“Tara Cocanower has three important qualities: a love for teaching, compassion for her students, and a desire to meet the needs of her students,” Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker says. “A culture of leadership and effective instruction coupled with Tara’s compassion for her students is what sets her apart from the field.”

Mr. Baker says Cocanower’s level of investment in her students allows her to truly make a difference in their lives. “Tara goes above and beyond when it comes to her students and she shows a great deal of empathy when working with them,” Baker added. “She constantly strives to challenge her students. Most importantly, Tara is an excellent role model for kids.”

Mrs. Cocanower teaches World History because she loves people, history, and the world’s people. She wants her students to leave her class with empathy for other people. “I think education is a collective,” Mrs. Cocanower says. “So I can only be as good of a teacher as the students I have. I couldn’t be the teacher I am if I didn’t love where I worked and what I do.”

Mrs. Cocanower is a 2007 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in history and
secondary education. She then worked for the Peace Corps (TEFL) in România.

For speaking and appearance requests, contact Bluffton-Harrison MSD Communications Specialist Jessica Bricker at