RRISD celebrates 2018 Secondary Teachers of the Year

Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Secondary Teachers of the Year.

Round Rock ISD recognizes and honors teacher excellence. Each school’s Teacher of the Year was elected by their peers and administration in recognition for their contribution in the classroom and throughout the campus learning community.

Building relationships with my students is very important to me. I believe that every student has a story to tell and it is up to teachers to help write that story in a positive manner. My meaningful moments come when students return to Canyon Vista to visit me and tell me that I’m the reason why they love science now or they email me their college acceptance letters.”

LaTavya Collins, seventh-grade science
Canyon Vista Middle School

“I believe that all students can learn and all students want to learn. Sometimes it takes consistent and positive reinforcement for them to believe it. I believe as an educator, a big part of my job is to believe in them and help students see the joy of learning.”

Kristin Harper, English as a second language (ESL)
C.D. Fulkes Middle School

One of my most meaningful moments in teaching was when I saw a young Marine in full dress uniform standing in the door of my class room.  He was former student who struggled mightily with math but who persevered so that he could reach his goal of being a U.S. Marine. It was the moment I realized it wasn’t just about the math – as much as I love it. It was about the future of each student who crosses my path.”

Peg Clark, Math
Cedar Ridge High School

“I feel passionate about building relationships with each student. I challenged myself to find out something unique about each student that had nothing to do with school. It’s been a fascinating revelation! Once kids know you care about them on an individual level, they open themselves to what you have to share with them. I want my students to feel seen and heard.”

Leslie Blanton, Spanish 1B
Cedar Valley Middle School

“One of the most meaningful experiences was turning a difficult student into a dedicated student. I was able to help change a student with major academic and behavioral issues labeled a troublemaker and a future drop out, into a learning success story. He passed the STAAR test and eventually graduated from high school. Now he is the first person in his family to attend college.”

Lynne Smith, eighth-grade science
Chisholm Trail Middle School

“A love of knowledge is vital in the teaching profession, and to ensure students engage in the passion for lifelong learning, we teachers must provide the opportunities for students to gain skills and understanding through learning from each other. At Deerpark Middle School I have an incredible administration staff who pushes me to plateaus well out of my comfort zone. I am surrounded by colleagues who attempt ground-breaking lessons, most of which are awe-inspiring successes. And let’s not forget the wonderful children I hear stifle smiles through their winces with every bad grammar joke I crack, a habit I picked up from another dear colleague. To be nominated as a representative in a school filled with so many wonderful moments and nurturing faculty, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the responsibility and honor they have entrusted to me as their Teacher of the Year.”

Melissa Bower, seventh-grade English
Deerpark Middle School

“Growing up in an economically disadvantaged family, I attempted to beat the apparent odds around me. Along this journey, I encountered a teacher unlike any I had met before. My high school English Teacher believed in me more than I, at times, believed in myself. Through this relationship, I was able to appreciate the impact teachers have on students’ lives. I can honestly say that she heavily influenced my decision to become an educator. Her impact in my life left lasting impressions and continues to shape the type of educator I am today. She was compassionate and understanding, yet she held the highest expectations for her students. As I think back on her influence in my life, I know that I owe a great deal of the success in my career to her. She taught me to analyze not only poetry, but also the story of my own life.”

Erika Elizonda, Biology
Early College High School

“All students can learn and want to learn.”

Debbie Alvarez, special education social studies
GOALS

“I want students to walk away with the desire to question everything and the ability to seek out credible answers. The goal is to develop civic minded future leaders in whatever profession they pursue.”

Sheryl Rank, eighth-grade U.S. history
Grisham Middle School

“My teaching philosophy is very simple – lead by example. I show students my interest in working with technology and my passion to learn. I demonstrate correct behavior inside and outside of the classroom. And I remind my students that there is always room for improvement.”

Ryan Smosna, career and technical education,
journalism and TV production
Hernandez Middle School

“My teaching philosophy is that all students can learn and should take an active role in their learning; I am a facilitator who strives nourish and grow strong critical thinkers and doers. It’s my goal to instill in my students that they belong in my learning community, that their ability and their competence will grow with their effort, that they CAN succeed at learning, and that what they are learning has value to them.”

Samara Hargrove, seventh-grade English language arts
Hopewell Middle School

“The reason I come to work every day is to walk into my classroom and have fun with my students learning about science. I design my classroom so that students are allowed hands-on experiences with materials and methodologies found in a real crime lab. My students are worth the extra work on my part to take a lesson from a simple PowerPoint about archaeology to moving 50 lb. bags of sand to create an indoor excavation with all the tools and experiences from a real archaeological dig. I am not willing to put in less work than I demand of my students.”

Allison Bouwman, career and technical education,
forensic science and principles of biomedical science
McNeil High School

“I enjoy being able to teach my kids skills they need in order to be successful in the real world. I teach math, which is a vital part of life, but I also want to help my kids learn perseverance so they can handle challenges and setbacks that life throws at them.”

Karen Davis, seventh-grade Math
Ridgeview Middle School

“People are magical, multifaceted beings that require education to reach to their hearts, minds and souls. A “one size fits all’ approach isn’t even a thing that exists. A classroom holds 20-30 beings all with their own brand of magic. It’s my responsibility to tap into that magic and then show them how to bring it out into the world as a whole.”

Rebecca Cooper, American Sign Language
Round Rock High School

“My mission as a teacher is to create a positive, inviting atmosphere where my students can feel safe, comforted and be highly engaged. I am firm, fair, consistent, creative, and value connection with my students and peers. My classroom is based on taking a positive interest, working hard, and showing a caring attitude toward everyone where positive growth happens.”

Debbie Miller, career and technical education
Round Rock Opportunity Center

In memoriam: Sean Kelley was dedicated to his students and wanted to see them succeed. His motto was “be better than you were yesterday.”

Senior Mireya Del Abra pays tribute to Mr. Kelley
“Coach Kelley always talked to me about soccer and my future plans for college. My mom always taught me that God brings people into our life for a reason. I was fortunate enough to have him as a coach for two sports because he didn’t care whether we were winning or losing.”

Sean Kelley, special education inclusion and coach
Stony Point High School

“I feel passionate about literacy and connecting students to literature that they can identify with. I believe that bibliotherapy has the ability to help students deal with serious issues they often experience during their teen years. Students need to be feel safe and secure in a classroom before they can focus on academic subjects.”

Valerie Burleigh, English
Success High School

“I realized that the vast majority of students are not going to notice if the chairs are exactly lined up, or the blinds are all in the same direction or if the lesson is precisely timed to end with an epiphany of realization and transformation concerning when to exchange a being verb with an action verb. What the students are going to remember is how they felt when they were with you.”

Ronda Murray, librarian
Walsh Middle School

“My teaching philosophy: Play music, talk less, take the class outside, recognize when I’m boring, never do the same thing twice, plan more than grade, draw and doodle, teach the skill of improvisation, be transparent, let students teach, and trust your own original ideas. And Mercy.”

Scott Chalk, English
Westwood High School