HOUSTON – A local teacher is among six educators from across Texas who have been chosen as finalists in the Texas Teacher of the Year program.
The title is awarded by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). The six finalists were selected by a panel of judges that included representatives of the state’s four teacher organizations and last year’s Teacher of the Year finalists.
Jillian Howard, a bilingual teacher at C.D. Landolt Elementary in Clear Creek ISD, says she strives to give back because school has had a powerful impact on her life.
“Growing up, school was my only refuge. As the daughter of a fourteen-year-old single mom, I was forced to become an adult at
a very early age. I worried about being alone, about the gunshots that rang through the night, and about
the Lord protecting me. But school was different; it was the place where I could be a kid. If I was
lonely at home, at school there was companionship. If I was in fear at home, I felt safe at school. If I
didn’t get a meal at home, I could eat at school. If at home things seemed hopeless, at school therein
lay hope for the future,” she wrote in her application for the award. “School gave me a sense of empowerment in a life where I felt powerless. I teach now with a burning conviction to recreate the refuge that school had been for me.”
Each of the finalists will now be invited to Austin for interviews on Sept. 7 before a larger judging panel, which will determine the top elementary and secondary teacher. One of the top winners will also be selected as Texas’ representative in the National Teacher of the Year program.
The other elementary school finalists are Connie Bagley, a dyslexia specialist at Crockett Elementary in San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District; and Julie Woodard, a 6th grade social studies teacher at D.S. Pullen Elementary in Rockwall ISD.
The secondary education finalists are Carlos Briano, a journalism teacher at El Dorado High School in Socorro ISD; Christian DeBerry, special education teacher at William P. Hobby Middle School in Northside ISD; and Monica Washington, an English teacher at Texas High School in Texarkana ISD.