2023 Illinois Teacher of the Year
Briana Morales is a proud Latina and freedom fighter for students in alternative education, where she has spent her career loving and learning alongside students furthest from justice in East St. Louis, IL. She focuses on empowering her students with personalized, competency-based education where their cultural funds of knowledge are honored and students work at their own pace to master content rather than traditional learning that focuses on seat time and completion of work.
Briana was honored as a 2021 NCTE Early Career Educator of Color and has shared the journey she and her students have embarked on to turn pain into power through narrative poetry of witness both locally and nationally. Her commitment as a school board member for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, School District #428 has allowed her to elevate the voices of justice-impacted youth. She is deeply passionate about creating healing-centered spaces where Black and brown students can feel seen, heard, and, one day, be free to be their authentic selves. Her love offering toward this future is her nonprofit, (Sister)Hood of Hope, Inc., dedicated to honoring brighter futures for girls of color everywhere by empowering them through the community of sisterhood.
Briana believes in education as a tool that equips young people to become change agents in their community and have a fighting chance at the life they deserve. She is currently pursuing an EdD in diversity and equity in education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Briana is the 2023 Illinois Teacher of the Year.