TEA News Releases Online
Oct. 30, 2009
El Paso, Wichita Falls teachers named
Texas Teachers of the Year
AUSTIN –Yushica Walker, a sixth-grade science teacher at Morehead Middle School in the El Paso Independent School District, today was named the 2010 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, and math and language arts teacher Donna Patrick of Southern Hills Elementary School in the Wichita Falls ISD was named the state’s new Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Walker and Patrick learned of this top honor at a special ceremony and luncheon at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin. Both Walker and Patrick were awarded a cash prize of $5,000, a SMART Board technology package worth more than $16,500, a laptop computer and a commemorative trophy.
Each educator vying for the top honors submitted an application that answers questions about their teaching philosophy and background. Secondary Teacher of the Year Walker writes that it was her aunt Willie Mae, a veteran teacher in Houston, who inspired her to become an educator. “With the exposure that my aunt gave me to the teaching profession, I knew that I wanted to be what I saw in her. She epitomizes what a teacher should be, inside as well as outside the classroom. I knew that money was not her drive; it was the love she had for her students. Teaching is unconditional love; therefore, I believe that teaching has to come from the heart and students are keenly aware of teachers that truly love to teach.”
Elementary Teacher of the Year Patrick had this to say: “As I look back on 30 years teaching in various schools, I am proud of the many personal accomplishments made possible by the people I encountered in life. But like any teacher, my true success is with my students. My central goal is to prepare each of my students to be successful in life. I encourage them to take challenging risks because they know that I will always be there as their safety net.”
In addition to the state’s top two educators, the other 37 outstanding regional Teachers of the Year were honored. The four additional state finalists received a $750 cash prize along with a commemorative trophy, and 33 regional teachers each received a $500 award and a commemorative trophy.
“I want to congratulate each teacher honored at this event. These teachers dedicate themselves to their students, their schools and their communities. They do what they do because they truly care, because they want to make a difference,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. “These dedicated people devote themselves to every student that passes through their doors, and usually, they do it without fanfare. But today, please help me celebrate and honor these Teachers of the Year, and every other teacher that has made a difference in a child’s life,” Scott said.
To achieve recognition through this program, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and a district Teacher of the Year, and ultimately an elementary and secondary regional honoree may be selected. From this group of regional winners, six finalists are chosen and interviewed by an independent panel of judges. The state’s top elementary and secondary teacher is selected from the six outstanding finalists.
Walker, Texas’ Secondary Teacher of the Year, will advance to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award. The national program, which began in 1952, is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The Texas Teacher of the Year program, considered the top teaching award in the state, is sponsored by the Texas Education Agency with financial support or in-kind donations from the following generous benefactors:
• SMARTer Kids Foundation
• First Financial Capital Corporation
• Association of Texas Professional Educators
• State Board of Education
• Texas ASCD
• Texas School of Public Relations Association
• Texas Association of School Administrators
• Texas Business and Education Coalition
• Texas State Teachers Association
• Texas Association of School Boards
• Texas Computer Education Association
• Texas Association of School Business Officials
• Texas Association for School Nutrition
• Texas Congress of Teachers and Parents
• Texas Association of Secondary School Principals
• Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association
• Texas Federation of Teachers
• Texas Classroom Teachers Association
• Texas Association of Partners in Education
• Texas Council of Women School Executives