As we approach the year's end, Humanities Texas continues to recognize classroom teachers across the state for their critical role in advancing education in Texas. For December's Teacher Feature, we are pleased to highlight two 2016 Outstanding Teaching Award recipients and their recent award presentations. Stay tuned for more in 2017!

Laurie Wagner, Rogers Middle School, Pearland

On November 17, 2016, State Senator Larry Taylor, Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette, and Humanities Texas board member Laurie Morian honored Laurie Wagner with the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during a presentation at Rogers Middle School in Pearland.

Wagner teaches sixth-grade world cultures and geography and language arts at Rogers Middle School.

"We here at Rogers Middle School are very fortunate to have Laurie Wagner as a teacher on our campus," said LaKesha Vaughn, principal at Rogers Middle School. "Mrs. Wagner not only touches the lives of her students, but also every student that walks through our front doors. She ensures that all students have the opportunity to learn about diverse cultures through real-life exposure and activities on our campus. We are so proud to showcase her amazing talents here at Rogers Middle School!"

Wagner provides opportunities for her sixth-graders to explore and discuss issues and challenges that people and cultures around the world face today. Through engaging and innovative activities, her students begin to understand their role as citizens of a global community.

One of Wagner's most celebrated accomplishments is starting the Rogers Middle School I-Fest, a highly anticipated school-wide showcase of international cultures. At I-Fest, her students lead mini-courses on culture, history, and geography of different regions, engaging the entire school and community in this daylong learning event.

"Taking advantage of our diverse population, I provide experiences to share and learn from each other and from members of our community," said Wagner. "My students will hopefully leave my classroom with an understanding of their place in the world and the unique opportunities they may have to make a change for the better."

"It is my honor to present the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award to Mrs. Wagner," said Senator Taylor. "Her commitment to creating the most engaging learning environment through technology and classroom innovation is truly exemplary. She works tirelessly to make sure that her students grow into the best leaders, thinkers, and citizens they can be. I am thankful for educators like Mrs. Wagner, who make us proud."

Angie Greenlaw, Flower Mound High School Ninth Grade Campus, Flower Mound

State Senator Jane Nelson and Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette presented Angie Greenlaw of Flower Mound High School Ninth Grade Campus with the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award on December 9, 2016.

Greenlaw teaches English and humanities and chartered the school's chapter of the English Honor Society. In 2015, she was named Teacher of the Year.

"Mrs. Greenlaw exemplifies what it means to be a master teacher, possessing the skills necessary to deliver lessons at a very high level and also the heart to impact a child's life in ways that will be remembered long after the student has graced the hallways," said Flower Mound High School Ninth Grade Campus principal Will Skelton. "She has an innate ability to capture what is most important in the lives of her students and to connect that to the curriculum in a way that motivates the students to learn."

Greenlaw has been integral in bringing several innovations to her campus, most notably the Genius Hour program. As part of this nationally recognized program, teachers set aside an hour of instruction time every two weeks for students to work on individual passion projects. Students choose a topic, prepare proposals, give pitches, and conduct research both in and out of class.

At the end of the year, students present their findings during a Genius Hour Showcase, with chosen finalists receiving awards. Through programs like Genius Hour, Greenlaw fosters students' inherent creativity and enthusiasm for learning and connecting with the world around them.

"My favorite lessons involve project-based learning," said Greenlaw. "However, no matter what type of learning style I'm employing on a given lesson, my priority is guiding students in connecting the lesson to real world scenarios, so they can see the immediate value in what they are learning."

"As a former teacher, I am always impressed with educators like Mrs. Greenlaw who inspire students to reach new heights," said Senator Nelson. "She demonstrates a commitment to success. I commend her for making her classroom a place where ideas flourish."

From l to r: State Senator Larry Taylor, OTA winner Laurie Wagner, and Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette at Wagner's award presentation at Rogers Middle School in Pearland.
From l to r: Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette; Pearland ISD Senior Assistant Superintendent for Intermediate Education Sonia Serrano; Superintendent John Kelly; OTA winner Laurie Wagner; Rogers Middle School Principal La'Kesha Vaughn; and State Senator Larry Taylor.
Enthusiastic students hug Laurie Wagner at her Outstanding Teaching Award presentation.
From l to r: Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette, OTA winner Angie Greenlaw, and State Senator Jane Nelson at Greenlaw's award presentation at Flower Mound High School Ninth Grade Campus.
Flower Mound High School Ninth Grade Campus students attend Angie Greenlaw's Outstanding Teaching Award presentation.