There likely could not be a better fit than Gretchen Wulfing to teach civics classes at Tahoma High so it should come as no surprise she was named by the Washington state Legislature last week as the Civics Educator of the Year.
Wulfing has a bachelor’s degree in political science as well as a master’s degree in public policy. She earned her master’s degree in education, completed her student teaching and worked as a substitute at Tahoma High after her family settled in Ravensdale in 2001, according to information provided by district spokesman Kevin Patterson.
In the late 1980s Wulfing worked on George H.W. Bush’s campaign team then moved to a position in the White House on the president’s Domestic Policy team after the election.
During her time in the White House, Wulfing’s job was to coordinate the president’s Thousand Points of Light program, which was designed to provide daily recognition to individuals and entities that provided service to the community.
After Bush left office in 1993, Wulfing and her husband turned their attention to raising a family, while his career led them to the Seattle area.
For the past four years she has taught American politics and global issues and coached the high school’s constitutional mock debate team that competes in the We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution program.
Soon after starting in a permanent position at Tahoma High, Wulfing was drawn to We the People.
“I knew this is it, this is what I was looking for,” she said in a statement. “It was incredible how everything happened.”
She took over the program, which has won the state championship 16 of the past 17 years, after the previous teacher and coach stepped away to go on maternity leave.
In addition to success at the state competition level, Wulfing and We the People have also earned national recognition having received the Best in the Region award, given to the best team in the nine western states.
She was nominated for the educator of the year award by state Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, who represents the 5th District. Selection for the award, according to information provided by Pflug’s staff, “was based on educators’ dedication and commitment to civic education.” Wulfing was recognized on Feb. 23 as part of the Legislature’s Civic Education Day.
Wulfing said that while she as an individual earned the award, she does not deserve all the credit for the work done.
“Tahoma is doing great things in civics education,” she said. “But, it’s the whole department, not me. More than anything, (the award) speaks to our department and our school. Everyone works so hard.”