Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Longtime Tlingit educator wins “Teacher of Distinction” award

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Honor given during SHI’s virtual Celebration 2020

June 12, 2020

Longtime Hoonah teacher Daphne Wright was honored with a 2020 “Teacher of Distinction” award by Sealaska Heritage Institute’s (SHI) Board of Trustees on Friday during SHI’s virtual Celebration 2020 broadcast.

Wright has taught through Hoonah City Schools for more than 35 years and has been a force for integrating Native language, protocols, traditions and history into classes.

“Daphne has done a tremendous job in serving our people through her teaching in Hoonah schools and her contributions to the revitalization of our Tlingit language,” said SHI President Rosita Worl in a video played during the program.

“Through her work, she has truly changed lives.”

SHI virtually presented Wright with a cedar award embedded with a copper tináa in addition to a wool “Blanket of Knowledge” during the broadcast.

The award came through the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program, a scholarship program at the University of Alaska Southeast that is largely funded by SHI. The PITAAS “Teacher of Distinction” award includes a $3,000 prize which will go to Hoonah City Schools.

Daphne has been a longtime learner of the Tlingit language, and she has passed that knowledge to her students. She has also played a large role in developing Tlingit lesson plans that are used to teach the language. Sealaska Heritage is now using her curricula material that she developed and amassed over the years.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Photo: Tlingit teacher Daphne Wright. Photo courtesy of Linda Belarde. For a high resolution image, contact