Last Thursday night, our proud school district hosted the 2017-18 Alief ISD Teacher of the Year Celebration where we had the honor of recognizing Teachers of the Year from every campus. I am sincerely honored each year to have the opportunity to participate in this event and express my appreciation to these phenomenal professionals. I am especially pleased to acknowledge those teachers that met our high standards of being selected as finalists for the Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary School Teacher of the Year for Alief ISD. The finalists were:
- Rhonda Simuel – Chancellor Elementary School – Rhonda, who teaches fourth grade math and science, is a former substitute teacher who developed such a passion for teaching that she became a full-time teacher in 2011. She has created a digital learning environment for her students that utilizes a variety of teaching methods to reach students including videos, anchor charts, laptops, iPads and iPhones as well as author visits to her classroom. “My joy truly comes from seeing others succeed. Each day I search within myself to find ways to make a positive impact,” she said.
- Keela Uzzell – Petrosky Elementary School – Keela is a kindergarten teacher who also finds time to coach the third and fourth grade volleyball and kickball teams. She has spent her entire 17-year teaching career in Alief ISD. She says it is up to her to decide what type of teacher she will be. “What I have come to realize after teaching for 17 years is that I have a choice. I can choose to be an okay teacher, good teacher, or a great teacher. I choose to constantly try to improve my teaching practices because nobody is perfect.”
- Robin Toy – Budewig Intermediate School – Robin teaches reading and language arts to sixth grade students at Budewig. He makes a concerted effort to build one-on-one relationships with each of his students. “Too often, mostly due to circumstances beyond their control, my students arrive to me in a fragile state of being and have rarely had a real win. I make it my personal business to ensure that each and every one of them has the experience of a sense of accomplishment.”
- Julienne Smart – Klentzman Intermediate School – Julienne brings 15 years of teaching experience in Alief ISD to her position as a math, science and social studies teacher at Klentzman. She says her love for teaching began when she was in elementary school. “I was fortunate to have teachers who were encouraging, inspiring, compassionate, and they made teaching look easy. These were traits that I cherished, for I felt they exhibited a great teacher.”
- Christopher Lacy – Olle Middle School – Dr. Christopher Lacy, who has taught at Olle for five years, has mastered the art of teaching multiple levels of math in an excitable, fun way. “It is vital that my lessons allow me to be relatable, personal and ensure that the learners buy into to what is taught. The look on my special education, learning disabled and on-level students’ faces when they learn a new standard is priceless,” he said.
- Thuc Vu – Crossroads – Thuc Vu has been teaching in Alief ISD for 11 years. To say that she is a busy person is an understatement. She teaches geometry, algebra 3, math lab, Pre-Cal and Math Models with Applications for all grade levels at Crossroads. “Teaching several math subjects (up to seven) at the same time has challenged me to master all courses and make connections among important contents,” she said.
- Andrea Lotsu – Taylor High School – Andrea teaches the Instructional Practice and Practicum in Education and Training at Taylor High School. She also formed the Alief ISD Chapter of the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) organization three years ago. Andrea actually did her student teaching at Taylor in 2005, as a result of the district’s partnership with the University of Nebraska. If you meet Andrea you will immediately notice her passion for teaching her students. “I truly believe I have the dream job. I teach and prepare students who will one day be working with me as fellow educators,” she said.
Now that you have learned about the outstanding finalists, you can empathize with the selection committee as they had the task of selecting one elementary winner and one secondary winner. Please join me in congratulating Robin Toy as the Elementary Teacher of the Year and Andrea Lotsu as the Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Please click the link below to see a video featuring our finalists in action.
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