DENISON ISD

TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Meet our 2022 Denison ISD Teacher of the Year nominees...

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Brandi Chambless

Houston Elementary

Our teacher of the year can be described in three words: Ray of Sunshine! From the moment she walks into our school, her positive presence is felt by everyone!

There is no one who rivals her expertise in building relationships with her young students. She takes time with each of them, focusing on every single specific need. One student says, "I love her because she helps me when I get sad." She is quick with compassion, never ignoring her learners' emotional welfare. She is a master of pulling the best from her students, by building their self-esteem and encouraging them through their struggles. Another student said, "She's a good teacher who gets us ready for 2nd grade!" It is obvious that her lucky learners feel safe and loved by this veteran teacher. She has high expectations of her class.

They work hard, and she offers many brain breaks with dancing to refocus her students. Her classroom is energetic and fun, but she also provides a peaceful, calm setting for her students to work in. Additionally, it is not at all unusual for this science loving teacher to allow her students to bring lizards, beetles or other critters they find on the playground back to the classroom! She even hatches chicks every year to bring science to life for her students. She provides a whole child approach to her teaching. Her motivations are clear: provide the best

environment and lessons for learning by going above and beyond to provide what every student needs, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

She has a great rapport with the families of her students, too. If your child is in her class, it is not unusual to receive pictures of your child doing various activities throughout the day. She loves to share her students' days with their parents.

Parents know there is no stronger advocate for their child than this stellar teacher. She is constantly reaching out to parents for many positive reasons, making tough conversations easier to swallow. Due to her constant communication, there are no surprises about students' academic or behavioral strengths and weaknesses. I even remember one year that she came to school early to work with a parent who wanted to learn to read. In their many conversations, the parent shared her own struggle with being a nonreader. Again, when our encouraging educator sees a need, she jumps into action, whether it is expected or not!

Furthermore, her coworkers know what a pleasure it is to work alongside her. She is a down to earth, giving, loving person. She is always looking for ways to help someone in need. Her compassion knows no limits! She initiates food basket donations and money collections for faculty families and students' families who

 

are in need. Her empathetic heart holds a place for each person on our campus. She is sought out for advice in personal and professional matters. Her co-workers say you couldn't ask for a better teaching partner. She takes time to collaborate with teachers on students' academic and social needs. Recently she has given her time after school to help with a student, in another grade level, who is having a rough patch. She always adds a positive spin to tough situations!

This loyal person is known as a fierce friend and has dropped everything at a moment's notice to help when needed. She is a devoted mom who has made her children her life. She can be seen at all of their activities cheering them on! She is also known for showing up to her students' extracurricular activities, as well.

When she is not at ballgames or running her kids around, she can be found fishing while taking in the sunshine!

Our Teacher of the Year is most deserving of this honor! She brings the same zest for life and teaching EVERY SINGLE DAY, no matter the stress or workload. She brightens our school and puts joy in the hearts of our students and faculty!

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Kisha Williams

Hyde Park Elementary

If there ever was a person who was born to teach it would be our nominee for Teacher of the Year. She helps guide her students in the right direction without them feeling discouraged. She is the calm in the midst of the storm. She exemplifies all the characteristics of what it means to be a great teacher. In addition to her extraordinary commitment to her students' academic progress, she exudes compassion and care to each individual student. Watching her with students is the perfect example of what it is to be a teacher: patient, calm, caring, kind, respectful and fun. One previous student said, 11She is very kind. She helped me a lot when people would make fun of me. I was different and she helped me feel good about myself." The children know she is a genuine person who truly cares about them.

 

She has a passion for teaching and is always researching new and innovative ideas to reach her students' academic needs. She takes care in her instructional delivery to meet the different learning styles of each of her students, while creating an inviting classroom environment. You'll never see this teacher behind a desk. She is positioned by the Smartboard conducting her lesson or she is moving around the room working with her students. Her lessons are very hands-on and engaging. Colorful anchor charts fill the walls to reinforce and provide support. Excited and engaged students have fun while completing meaningful learning activities. One of her former students said, 11She taught me a song about math called Part, Part, Whole and I still sing it to this day. She had the class sing Happy Birthday to me and I will never forget it. I felt so special. She would always greet me at the classroom door with a big smile."

 

She excels in her compassion, patience, and care for her students. Her students know she loves them and it is evident by the way they are always smiling and wanting to be near her. She has a way of speaking to students that can calm even the most anxious and overstimulated child. This is a natural ability of hers that is a joy to watch. It is hard to believe she has only been teaching 6 years, because she exhibits the qualities of a veteran teacher. During her first year of teaching she calmed down around 80 first graders by quietly stating she was 11looking for a good first grader." At that moment, every single first grader stopped and stood perfectly still, wanting to please her. When asked about having had our nominee as a teacher, a former student commented, 11When I came into her room I felt very excited for the day to start." and another student said, 11She was always so nice even when our class wasn't behaving. When I walked into her classroom I felt happy that she was my teacher."

 

She is very much a team player and is always willing to volunteer to assist at campus events and activities. Not only does she offer assistance to her grade level team, she offers to lend a hand to anyone on campus. She has a calm and sweet demeanor which allows everyone to feel comfortable approaching her including her students' parents.

 

A former student from her first year of teaching sums up our nominee perfectly, 11She is still one of my favorite teachers. She is different from other teachers because she is patient and would explain things where I could understand them. She made learning fun by letting us do a craft that went with what we were learning. I loved her class."

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Lisa Washer

Lamar Elementary

Our teacher of the year nominee is a constant in a world that is ever changing. She perseveres and rises to the occasion no matter what changes have been thrown her way. She is an anchor for our school and has held us afloat throughout the challenges we have faced in education these past few years.

By definition, dedication is self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty, despite the task being hard work. For our nominee, this comes naturally. For years, she has worked hard for her students, staying after hours to make sure that her classroom is ready for her students the next day. She is meticulous in her data on students, because she knows that it is important to meet them where they are to help them be successful. This teacher exhibits a strong work ethic. If there is an extra task that needs to be done, her team knows that they can depend on her. She will volunteer to take an extra meeting or stay for after school duty at any time. She does these things quietly, never wanting to draw attention to herself. In her mind, there is a job to be done and she is going to do it well. Our teacher of the year works hard to create a special bond with not only the students in her own classroom, but other classrooms as well. She takes the time to really listen to students. Due to this, learners naturally want to please her and never want her to be disappointed in them. When she is dealing with a discipline is ue she works with the student to make sure that they understand what they 'could do better the next time. They know that she cares deeply for each and every one of them. She is an advocate for her students, going the extra mile to make sure that they have what they need both academically and emotionally.

Her colleagues value··, her opinion. It is not uncommon to pass by her classroom and see her unofficially counseling another teacher who has come to her for advice. She has been a mentor for new teachers on campus numerous times. One fellow teacher said "When I started here, she was the first person on my team to make me feel welcome and show me the ropes. Little did I know that soon she would become one of my dearest life-long friends."

 

The parents of this nominee know how well their child is taken care of while they are at school. One parent said, "There isn't a school day that goes by without my child sharing something joyful about her teacher or expressing how much she loves her... 'My favorite thing about my teacher is that she's funny and she makes me feel happy!· She teaches me to be nice and kind, to follow directions, oh, and most important...no picking your boogers!"'. Another parent shares, "My 1st grader is learning so much every day and enjoying school thanks to this amazing teacher! One of my daughter's favorite quotes from this teacher is, 'Just do your best, because your best is always good enough!' These little ones desire to learn and grow because they know their teacher loves them and is always doing her best for them too!"

Our nominee also has a silly side. She can often be heard speaking in accents to her students. She can be British or an old cowboy all within the span of a few minutes. When she reads a story she does ALL the voices! She can always be counted on to lighten the mood with a joke. Her laugh is infectious and can be heard throughout our halls as she interacts with students and staff. When asked why this teacher was her favorite, a former student said "she makes me laugh, and she loves me".

This nominee works hard every day to make sure that the students in her school are successful. Year after year, she gives her all. She never stops learning and creating to meet her students' needs. Ephesians 4:2 says "Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with each other in love". This verse represents our nominee perfectly.

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Yona Aleman

Mayes Elementary

What is a champion? Webster defines it as a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition.

 

Since her early beginning in 2020 she has faced numerous challenges. She is a true gladiator marching on always looking for what is best. Bruce Lee once said, "To become a champion requires a good mental attitude toward preparation." This teacher is always prepared for anything with a positive attitude. She can be heard saying "We can do it", to any challenge.

This teacher educates our youngest group of students, many of which have just turned 4 when they begin school.  This can cause many challenges. This does not discourage this teacher, because she faces it head-on with a smile and can-do attitude. She spends her weekends prepping materials to engage and motivate her students. She consults veteran teachers and other grade levels to give her young learners the very best education.  And she does this all with a smile on her face, ready to encourage the learning for her young students.

 

Even though this year she has had several challenging personalities, she doesn't give up. Her resiliency is something to truly admire. Her precious 22 little ones come in with bundles of energy and she matches that energy. She has a never give up attitude and turned her class into "Little Learners" in no time. Not once did she complain. This teacher works proactively with parents and families to create a team. "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference," Winston Churchill once said, and. this teacher's attitude makes a huge difference on our campus. When asked "I don't know how you do it?", this teacher replies "Because I Love my job!" Her love of teaching is inspiring to her team, her students, and the campus.

 

She is a team player who is always ready to collaborate with others. Everyone at our school agrees that her brilliant smile and positive attitude engulfs everyone. When she walks by and shares a warm hug she leaves you to feeling a little happier. One colleague said, "Her positivity spreads like sunshine and having her on my team has made a difference in me." Another teammate said, "The differences she made in her students changed my attitude. I can see what a difference one person can make. I canrnJt even imagine how she managed to make the differences she has made in her classroom."

 

She spends time each week planning engaging lessons. Her students are well prepared for kindergarten. You can pass by her room and hear singing and see this teacher dancing away! Her students love learning, because of the fun activities she plans.

It was once said, "Stay close to people who feel like sunshine." This teacher has made our campus and our everyone's life around her a little brighter and that is why she is our Mayes Teacher of the Year 2022.

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Katie Knox

Terrell Elementary

"A teacher is a star who teaches kids how to shine and gently encourages them to spread their wings and fly." This quote defines our teacher of the year very well. Almost all of her students will tell you that she is a master of leading you to the right answer or the right solution to a problem without telling the right answer or the right way. She encourages her students to "fly" both academically and personally. Her relationship-building skills are the best of the best. Her students say:

  • "This one day, I was feeling insecure about my clothes. She has some extra t-shirts, and she let me use one, and at the end of the day she told me that I am beautiful just the way I am. She's my favorite; and she's the best."

  • "She has always helped me when I am sad; when I have trouble with questions on a paper, she will help me. She is so nice! She teaches really good."

  • "I think she's a great teacher because she handles situations really well. If you ask for help with a question, she will help you without just outright telling you the answer. If you can prove your answer in the passage, then it's correct! She can lead us to the right one without telling us---we figure it out on our own."

  • "She is wonderful because she helps people, and she's really nice, and she's always there to help you if you need help. And she's really funny! I can reference a TV show that we both watch, and she gets it!"

  • "She helps you learn and makes it fun to learn. She helped me learn to write my good sentences even better. She handles situations very well. Her class is fun because she lets us work in groups a lot, even when it sometimes gets a little messy-we are still learning."

 

Our star teacher of the year exemplifies both the art and science of teaching. She is an expert in her field of writing, grammar, and spelling, and she always has engaging and interesting lessons ready to support her learners with this content. She has been known to text a co-worker on the weekends to make sure that she is teaching the grammar concepts in a way that students will get them! To engage her students, sometimes they are detectives who are investigating the errors in a piece of writing, and sometimes they are gardeners who are growing dirt babies during the science portion of the day.

Our star teacher of the year also is a master of differentiation. She weekly provides targeted, small group instruction not only during class but during intervention time as well. When something is not working for a student, she tries a new approach until the student shows growth. Her teammate said, "She rarely stops working or thinking about her students, even if that means fighting for our students to get them what they need. She treats students with respect and has high expectations for each of them."

Our star teacher of the year is also a master of data analysis. She will work tirelessly to not only create color-coded charts to track student growth, but she will also work to make changes to the schedule and the instructional plan to meet the needs shown in the data.

Our star teacher of the year is also an asset to our school. Her teammate said, "She is one of the most supportive and uplifting people I know. She's like the "mom" of our team. Since day one at this school, she has been my mentor, my friend, the person I go to for any and every question, and my shoulder to cry on at difficult times. She's supported me when I didn't even know I needed support. She also teaches students to be respectful and spread kindness.

You might see her leading her classroom through the school to put kind and encouraging notes on teachers' doors. Her kids and coworkers can see her kindness and compassion, as well as her dedication to her school, and they love her for it!" Another teammate said," She has been my mentor since coming to this campus. She has helped me grow as an educator. She is the

type of person who will give you room to grow and learn while guiding you with a gentle hand. Her level of empathy and compassion shines through with how she conducts herself in and out of the classroom. She sets high expect tions for herself and her students while still exercising grace. One of the things I love most about her is her ability to find joy in the little things, and she brings that joy with her. We started out as mentor and mentee, but she has quickly become one of my dearest friends, and I am so grateful to work with such a wonderful and compassionate educator.

 

Our star teacher of the year also does both big and little things to bring together our staff.

 

She plans after-school book club meetings and staff outings, and she supports the staff book shelf-this is a place where staff can leave a book and borrow a book. She loves and promotes reading in your classroom and on our campus!

Our star teacher of the year is always smiling, she is always positive, and she is always kind. She is everything that a teacher should be, and a teacher of the year at that. She shines while doing her thing!

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Codi Gudgel

B. McDaniel Intermediate

Maya Angelou once said, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". Our Teacher of the Year has shown us who she is in just a few short years at our school. She has proven herself to be trustworthy, honest, a team-player, educational leader, innovator, and an advocate for her students. As a teacher one wears many hats in the classroom. They are mentors, role models, and counselors.

 

Our Teacher of the Year sees the value in each student, their potential and what their future can be. She is kind, always willing to help, and knowledgeable. She is not one for the spotlight but is always working behind the scenes to provide what her students need to be become better readers. Students who have struggled with reading and did not like reading, now have a love for reading that will shape their lives forever. Her enthusiasm and love for her job and her students is evident when you walk into her classroom. She has createcl a calm and welcoming environment for her students. She is well-respected by her students. They love her because she is kind. loving, fun and cares about each student. She knows every student in her classes as a whole person. Her teaching approach involves finding and using student's unique strengths to help them overcome their struggles and develop a positive self-concept. She has strong academic expectations and shows her students every day that she believes they can succeed. She is the student's biggest supporter and will work tireless hours to help them achieve both academically and in life.

Being a Dyslexia teacher, requires great knowledge, extensive planning and the ability to adapt. She spends time during lunch and after school to mentor teachers. She is the driving force in our department. One of her co-workers wrote, "I feel so fortunate to work with her this year. She has been a mentor to me in teaching as well as guiding me through the MTA program. She has shown me how to be a better problem solver and innovator in the classroom. She has guided me not only in teaching but her enthusiasm and love for her job and her students have inspired me to become a better teacher. She is selfless with her time and talents. Another co-worker wrote, "She is one of those teachers you come across once in a life time. She is always available to discuss ideas, observe lessons, and give much needed feedback about what is working and what might need to change. It has been such a privilege to work with her the last few years. I am honored to call her both a mentor and friend."

It is our honor to have Mrs. Gudgel represent our campus for DISD Teacher of the Year.

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Tia Haywood

B. McDaniel Intermediate

"Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two together." -Scott Hayden

 

These three loves are reflected in our Teacher of the Year - As a life-long Denison native, she has long recognized the importance of bringing a love of learning and learners together. Since she has been teaching, she has created a learning atmosphere in her classroom that radiates student engagement and fun.

 

She has a deep love of learning. She continues to pursue knowledge and training, (recently) completing her Master's degree and is considering pursuing her doctorate. All the while attending district workshops and trainings.

 

Her student-centered lessons are filled with hands-on activities that are STEM based and allow students to develop critical thinking skills. From setting up experiments for the students to integrating new digital apps and resources, this teacher's approach is growing and evolving in response to the new knowledge and information she intentionally seeks out. She stands as a great example to her students of what a lifelong love of learning looks like.

 

She loves her students. She considers the needs of each individual and accommodates her lessons for the success of all, not just some. If at all possible, when she is out, she records her lesson and has it available for the substitute. This way students are hearing and seeing her which helps with their learning and understanding even when she is not here. She also invests in her students and supports their interests. You may see her at football games on the weekends, or band concerts after school cheering on her current and former students. She helps craft memories for her classes by providing special incentives for them such as hot chocolate on JAM days and a movie and popcorn party as a reward for hard work during STAAR review. She has served on various committees and dedicated time and energy into our campus PTO. She has worked with our school yearbook for 4 years, leading a team of students who document and collect special moments around our school all year; her hard work in making sure every student is in the yearbook provides a wonderful keepsake for students full of fun memories from their time at B. McDaniel.

 

Her joy for her profession is evident. A colleague commented that "It is always easy to know where she is in the building; just wait a moment and you will hear her laugh ringing through the hallway." Students in her classes love her, one student says, 11She has the biggest and best personality." They are excited to do hands-on experiments and can't wait for reviews using resources such as Blooket and pre-test review experiments.

 

Our nominee represents all that is good in the education profession. Her passion for students as well as her commitment to quality lesson design is why she is a wonderful candidate for DISD's Teacher of the Year.

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Michaela Blackshear

Scott Middle School

If you walk the halls of SMS and happen to hear some dad jokes and math puns, you're probably outside of this teacher's classroom. If you peek in and she is wearing a Woody the cowboy costume with full face paint, you're definitely in the right place for enthusiasm and learning. In her third year at SMS, this teacher is ROCKING the world of eight grade Math every single day.

She's one of the first to arrive and last to leave each day and frequently seen in the halls of SMS on the weekends getting prepared to make learning math as fun as humanly possible. Her preparation might include math games, journaling, zany attention getters, recording lessons for students to review, and more. What it will definitely include is impactful learning differentiated to address the needs of her students, who just happen to be students who have never been successful at math in the past. This teacher teaches some of the toughest kids who are in her double-block class because they haven't shown mastery in math up to this point. With that being said, most of this teacher's students LOVE her class and love her, because she makes math fun and truly cares about their success and individuals (mathematically, and beyond}.

As one of her coworkers says about her, "She has the patience to care and guide the children in the right direction, academically and in real life situations. She is kind, empathetic, diligent, dedicated and adapts to each class period. She is a rock star at helping the students succeed academically, when her students are struggling with concepts, she steps up in a very creative and special way so they understand and no longer struggle. She sets good example for her students to follow in and out of school and does a great job modeling communication, respect for others, empathy, and staying positive. Her students love her class and it's math! Which means she challenges the love for learning on the daily by making it exciting, fun and engaging the students. She shows her passion for teaching every day, even when it's rough, which I believe can bring out the passion in her students." As another coworker put it, "She fights for her students to succeed at the risk of her own sanity and never gives up. She is an inspiration and a friend to all her staff."

This teacher has stepped up this year to become a leader within her team and on the campus.

She goes beyond what many teachers would consider their responsibilities. She takes on many responsibilities to make sure the 8th grade Math team has what they need in order to present lessons to the students to make them successful. She goes out of her way to make sure her students are understanding the concepts she teaches each day and that they are being successful in other classes and in life. She truly cares about each of her students. She has even taken on a mentor and check-in role with particular struggling students, helping them communicate with other teachers, giving them a safe space to get caught up on work, communicating with parents, and doing everything she can to make sure that these high risk students have a fighting chance at success.

Without this teacher on our campus, the halls of SMS would be a little duller. Her bubbly personality is a shining light to stressed staff members and moody teenagers alike. Having overcome a tough first year and become a leader on our campus, we are proud to have this teacher as part of our SMS family and celebrate her successes and the success she has brought to so many students!

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Kelsey Blanton

Scott Middle School

Do you ever think back on your career as a student and fondly remember that one crazy fun teacher? The one zany teacher who always had ridiculous amounts of energy and who never had anything but a smile on her face? The teacher who made you love learning and whose class you looked forward to each and every day? This is that teacher for our SMS students.

This is the teacher who makes her subject more than just standards and note taking. Daily, she teaches her students the fundamentals of physical and technical skills in her subject area in creative ways that make even middle schoolers smile and laugh. One of the most difficult things any middle school elective teacher has to work through is having a tough mix of students. Some students truly want to be there and have chosen that course because they have a passion for the subject; others were placed in her class because they needed an elective, any elective. With that being said, no one leaves her class without loving this teacher and without a smile on their face. As a coworker said, "Day to day, week to week, month to month and year round, she shows the qualities of an exceptional teacher."

Some teachers teach. Others run after school clubs. Some others help with committees. Not many teachers do all of the above, plus more. This teacher runs her entire program (including after school meetings, productions for the community, and UIL competitions), has put together travel experiences for students, is on several school improvement committees, runs point on sound and lights for all productions in the theater, covers classes when needed, is the department chair, and so much more! She is our boost of enthusiasm, delivered in whatever accent you choose, whenever we need a little encouragement.

This teacher is the definition of passion for her job and for her students. If you've seen the success of the high school program, you've seen the passion that began in middle school for most of those amazing young students. You've seen the seeds of love for the physical craft, technical aspects, and artistic elements that were sowed by a teacher who lives and breathes this program at SMS. You've seen the results of countless hours, tears, prayers, and work invested in the lives of hundreds of middle schoolers. You've seen the hard work of this teacher come to fruition in the lives of her students and her passion for their success played out for all to see!

As one of her SMS coworkers stated, "She brings out the best in her students as far as talents they may not know they have yet. She is positive and reflects that to her students daily. She works hard and she expects that from her students; in turn, they show her how hard they can work as they learn skills for this class and for life. This amazing lady is dedicated to teaching and reaching students to be the best they can be and even more!" We couldn't imagine SMS without this vibrant and positive teacher and are thrilled to celebrate her passion and dedication to the students of Denison!

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Brandon Cates

Denison High School

This nominee came to Denison quite a while ago via Earth.

Ha. Ha. That is funny, but, aren't we all from Earth? Well, yes, but...this person actually is from Earth! Texas, that is, pop. 1006 souls.

Well, wonder who named the place Earth? Wonder where it is? Wonder what they do there?

 

 

And so, the dialogue about place and culture and resources and habits begin as he makes welcome his new classes each year. It also helps that he teaches mostly freshmen, as humor and fun are the chosen paths of this teacher; and the world is his playground.

This teacher's students think he is funny, one likes "that he always makes me laugh when I walk into his class", that he may "joke around with him and he will play along with what we are saying".

Another mentioned that he incorporates current events every day by letting the students guess what is the #1 country for oil (or whatever) for warmups and candy, showing them that the topic in the class today is real world knowledge, pertinent to regular life every day. "He is really good about using interactive learning. He teaches in different ways for different types of learners well." He lets kids learn stiff stuff like agricultural systems through innovating ways such as speed-dating; he does regional food with them in Food for Thought days, where they trace resources and spices around the world. He teaches them about scarcity and supply and demand in relation to work, and wealth, and region. He makes his students citizens of humanity by every day discussions about equity and health. Another says, "as a teacher, he is amazing. He's passionate about what he does and he strives to make sure we understand things. He rambles on sometimes, but it's the best because he is absolutely hilarious."

He is relatable to his students; they know he is approachable and accessible, spending many early mornings and late afternoons available for talking or tutoring, whatever they may need. This teacher sees the best in every student, he is the fiercest advocate for all of his learners and makes his classroom

 

a safe and engaging space for each of his kids. He gives students opportunity to make choices for themselves while still holding them accountable. He is always willing to try new avenues or make up new games for review because he understands that a compact has been struck with his students. For his part, new information all the time, but, staged in a fun way; for the kid's part, trust that whatever the day's activities are, they won't be boring.

This year, this teacher has many new responsibilities; furthering his own education, a new college level course he is teaching and a big step back from old duties that still hold pieces of his heart. Efficiently and productively, no matter what, he continues on in his steady way; reliable, earnest, open-hearted, and an absolute location for all of his students. I think his colleagues and students are so lucky to have him in our own small world. Thanks.

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Mary Creech

Denison High School

I feel compelled to start this recommendation by stating that I am humbled and honored to provide feedback for this nominee as she is being considered for Teacher of the Year. I have worked with her in the educational setting for the past three school years. She was asked to step into the Resource English classroom in the middle of the school year last year, and her level of excitement to do something that would have overwhelmed most people was truly inspiring. Not only did she take over the classroom, but she also took over the tracking list of students who receive special education services; and this includes making sure that students are not missing assignments and working with them to catch up when they are behind, reviewing IEP paperwork, completing all ARD paperwork, attending ARD meetings and a variety of other tasks which pop up on a daily basis.

 

She possesses the ultimate "can do" attitude while taking on all tasks with a radiant positive energy and a smile. Her exuberant personality and engaging personal style enable her to interact effectively with students from a variety of backgrounds. More importantly, she is able to create bonds with the most difficult of students and earn their trust in order to be an effective presence within the school setting.

 

This teacher is constantly researching and employing instructional methods which will intrigue her students. A conversation with her regarding hands-on assignments that her students were doing in English really piqued my interest and made me want to see for myself. It was my pleasure to experience a lesson wherein the students had been charged with creating a mock trial courtroom scene that expanded upon what had happened in a story that they had read as a class. The level of higher-order thinking that was involved in playing out what may have happened after the story ended was truly impressive; she took the required TEKS for this lesson and had the students in charge of making real life applications. This is something she has done on a daily basis from the moment she stepped into the classroom and is something that has captured her students' desire to learn. Now, her students come to her with ideas for demonstrating their mastery of materials. Among other activities, students in her classes have each created their own model Frankenstein and wrote and performed "Saturday Night Live" skits to demonstrate satire.

 

If anyone walked into her classroom they would certainly see students really taking charge of their own learning - students who have not had the easiest academic and/or personal paths to get to where they are today. Students who do not feel comfortable participating in other classes are taking a leadership role on a daily basis in this class. This teacher is the epitome of everything that embodies "Teacher of the Year".

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Brooke Morrison

Denison High School

I suppose most people, when asked to write a teacher of the year recommendation letter, do so out of some sense of duty or responsibility for a fellow teacher. Yet here I sit, composing this letter, and I can only tell you what JOY it brings me to have a chance to celebrate such a dynamic teacher and co-worker. She is beyond worthy of this accolade, and it is my honor to recommend her for Denison ISD's teacher of the year award.

I would also venture to guess, if you were to poll high school students about their most challenging class, a large percentage of them would say math. Mixing numbers and letters is certainly a mind-boggling task. Yet, this teacher, who ADORES working with both students and numbers, consistently finds ways to break down difficult and abstract mathematical concepts to a level her students can easily understand. One co-worker said she "has a way of demystifying an abstract curriculum by providing concrete analogies that make problem solving not only

doable... but fun. The relationship she builds with students meets them where they are and helps them build their own bridge to success." She spends time in her lessons solving problems in a multitude of ways so that she can address the varied learning styles of her students. Students who admit they struggle with this subject, end up finding confidence in their skills, and that is a direct result of her teaching efforts.

It is said that "no significant learning occurs without a significant relationship." A huge part of why this teacher's students are so successful is because she truly invests time in getting to know her students and letting them know how much she cares about them as individuals.

Perhaps her current students say it best: "[She] not only makes sure every student understands the material she is teaching, but she is also an easy and open person to talk to about anything! She is a great teacher and a great person and loves each and every student she has!" Another student raved about her saying, "[She] is truly an amazing teacher. She always makes sure that

 

her kids have the chance to succeed, and puts in effort to help students understand the concept of what she's teaching." This teacher's dedication does not go unnoticed by her co-workers either. One gladly stated, "[She] works hard not only for her students but for her co-workers as well.

She continuously goes the extra mile to meet her students where they are and provides the support her students need to guide them to where they need to go." While we all know STAAR scores matter (and hers are some of the best), the lasting impact of a positive teacher-student relationship in addition to gaining confidence in learning, are life-long gifts that her students will not easily forget.

The passion and dedication this teacher puts into everything she does is truly an inspiration. She has a natural ability to make anyone she comes in contact with feel welcomed and valued. She is a joy to be around and has a playful spirit. Even though she has been known to razz her principal about getting more jeans days, her level of professionalism is top notch.

This teacher not only rocks the classroom, but she also dedicates her time volunteering to work with students in extracurricular activities. She has spent countless hours as the Den-Teen sponsor. In this role, she has planned and organized Neewollah, raising over $20,000 dollars just this year for our school. She also organized the Homecoming festivities, from the school presentation, to the parade, and the game night presentation. She is also often seen with her two small children in tow to many outside sporting events in order to support her students extracurricular endeavors. She dedicates her time for free because she knows the value of investing into our students. One co-worker stated, "My interaction with [her] has been through organizing Homecoming and this year she teaches [math] to many of my EL kids. [She] cares so much for everything that she does. She has such a big heart for her students and her job and everything she takes on. She has much love for kids who need it. Tough love and easy love,

 

they know what [this teacher] is going to give them, rain or shine, 24-7. She is loyal, tough, and sassy with them, which is sometimes exactly what they need. That steadiness also shines through in Homecoming; she is fierce for fighting for something that is a tradition here at the high school; she recognizes that High School is more than just academics. She feels passionately that all the extra is also very necessary for our kids, and she makes time to make that "extra" happen too." Her students also recognize her depth of passion beyond the classroom. A student athlete said, "[She] is always helping me when I ask. She never complains when anyone asks for help. She is really nice and always in a good mood. She makes sure I'm at school so I don't get into trouble with the coaches. I really enjoyed having [her] this year."

 

When in high school, I can remember this teacher earning the "Heart of a Jacket" award in cheerleading. This award goes to someone who embodies what it means to be a Yellowjacket­ passionate, caring, dedicated, always willing to go the extra mile, and someone who bleeds black and gold. What an honor it is to have witnessed this teacher come full circle from student to teacher and still embody that Yellow Jacket passion. In the Teacher of the Year Nomination form, it states that this "search is not for the 'best teacher' but for one who emphasizes the finest in the profession." I would assuredly say that this teacher is BOTH of these things. It is my most sincere recommendation that you please consider this tried and true Yellow Jacket, a phenomenal educator, as Denison ISD's 2022 Teacher of the Year.