HISD held its third annual Celebration of Excellence at the Hilton Americas Hotel on May 1, 2014, to honor the many dedicated professionals who contribute to the success of Houston’s students on a daily basis.
Among those recognized at the event were the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, who were revealed for the first time that evening.
John Augustine, a fourth-grade teacher at Sinclair Elementary School, and Lynn McGowan, a math teacher at Forest Brook Middle School, have been named the winners of these awards for 2014.
Augustine, who has been an educator since 1987 and a member of Team HISD since 2011, believes that creating the right environment for learning is critical to his success as a teacher.
“I have tried to set up my classroom in such a way that the expectations are clear,” he wrote in an essay on his teaching philosophy. “I also try to get my students to understand that through a good attitude and cooperation, they can help each other achieve excellence. I find that by establishing clear classroom management standards early in the year, my students understand what the daily expectations are for them and they can focus on learning.”
McGowan, who has been an educator since 1985 and a member of Team HISD since 2009, attributes her success in the classroom to a willingness to challenge her students, both to reach further academically and to take charge of their own education.
“I push my students to work beyond the minimum required standards,” wrote McGowan in her essay on teaching philosophy. “I utilize probing questions to direct students’ thinking and develop concepts integrated with other concepts. I do not teach; I facilitate students’ learning. My students are the center of learning in my classroom; I am not.”
Augustine and McGowan each received a $5,000 cash award, an engraved plaque, and a one-night weekend stay at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel. They will also advance to the state’s regional Teacher of the Year competition.
Congratulations also go out to the 2014 Beginning Teachers of the Year (James Lee, Crespo ES; Sarah Rabourn, Sugar Grove Academy; and John Buchanan, Austin HS), and the winners of the Outstanding Young Educator Award (Nikki Arterburn, Revere MS) and the Emily Scott Evans Award (Mariama Fisher, Burbank ES). The Evans Award honors one third-grade teacher who makes students excited about learning and respectful of peers and adults.
HISD held its fourth annual Celebration of Excellence at the Hilton Americas Hotel on May 15, 2015, and one of the evening’s most exciting moments came when the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year were announced.
Robert Uzick, a fourth-grade teacher at Cunningham Elementary School, and Jessica Joseph, a sixth-grade math teacher at Hogg Middle School, have been named the winners of these awards for 2015.
Uzick, who has been an educator at that Cunningham since 2009, attributes his success to keeping his focus on the students, rather than the subject matter.
“I do not teach science, standards, or reporting categories to children,” he wrote in an essay on his teaching philosophy. “I teach children about how the world works. With a desire to learn, the possibilities offered by the world are endless. When students will forgo a game of tag with their friends to extend investigations we completed in class, I know I am making a real impact.”
Joseph, who joined Team HISD in 2012, believes that fostering a sense of personal responsibility in each student by providing a safe, positive learning environment is critical to her success.
“An effective teacher does not simply teach and test the objectives,” she wrote. “An effective teacher helps scholars understand…that they have an obligation to themselves to get better every day. I had to teach them that it was okay to make mistakes and realize that mistakes provide an opportunity to call on a neighbor for encouragement to persevere. Allowing my focus to be on the environment my scholars learned in had a greater impact than I could have ever imagined.”
Uzick and Joseph each received a $5,000 cash award, an engraved plaque, and a one-night weekend stay at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel. They will also advance to the state’s regional Teacher of the Year competition.
In a surprise twist this year, Joseph was also named the “Fan Favorite” for 2015 at the secondary level, after receiving more than 40% of the votes. The elementary Fan Favorite was Angelina Rodriguez from Dogan Elementary School.
Congratulations also go out to the 2015 Beginning Teachers of the Year (Nancy Romero, Pilgrim Academy; José Cordova, Welch MS; and Lauren Hacker, Westside HS), and the winner of the Emily Scott Evans Award (Lauren Ayres, Durham ES). The Evans Award honors one third-grade teacher who makes students excited about learning and respectful of peers and adults, and it includes a $1,500 cash prize.