2011 OUTSTANDING TEACHER OF AMERICA
Hoopa Valley High School
Vickie earned her Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education with a minor in English from California State University, Chico. She has been teaching English, British Literature, Reading Intervention and Composition and Rhetoric at Hoopa Valley High School for 28 years.
Vickie was born an raised in the small community of Willow Creek, California, located along the Klamath river in northern California. She attended high school at Hoopa Valley High School on the Hoopa Indian Reservation, which is the largest reservation in California. As a young caucasian girl attending the reservation high school in the midst of the 1970's AIM movement, she faced a great deal of discrimination. She pushed through, and excelled in athletics.
Using her experience as a student, she has developed a true understanding and appreciation for the culture and customs of the tribe. She returned to teach at Hoopa Valley High School and continues to learn more of the native language and she frequently attends the cultural ceremonies. She has become an integral part of the community and has the support of the parents and tribal leaders.
One of the students who nominated Vickie summarized well what so many of her former students said: "Ms. Kurtz was the ONLY teacher who showed any interest in my well being. She believed in me even when I thought I was a failure. She pulled me from the edge. My life was falling apart around me, but she never allowed me to use my problems as an excuse for not doing my best. She became the person I wanted to be and without her persistence I would have never made it to the University, where I was able to graduate and am now working in my dream job, traveling the world."