Two exceptional Texas teachers received Outstanding Teaching Awards on December 18, 2012.
Trey Wakefield, field representative for U.S. Congressman Pete Olson, joined Humanities Texas board member Virginia Mithoff and Humanities Texas Program Officer Jillian Owens to present Erica Klein of Deer Park with the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award. This award was established in memory of Ms. Howell, former chair of the Humanities Texas board of directors, as a lasting tribute to her service to the organization and her commitment to the study of Texas history.
Mrs. Klein, who teaches Texas and world history at Bonnette Junior High School, was also named the 2011–12 Deer Park Independent School District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Klein uses her classroom as a place to foster appreciation for the people, places, and events that shape the history of Texas and the world.
"My teaching philosophy is centered on using innovative ideas and methods to help students personally connect with information," said Mrs. Klein. She brings history to life for her students with innovative lesson plans and creative, hands-on activities, such as the "Battle Flag" project, in which her students create an original battle cry for any Texas Revolution battle, create an authentic-looking flag, and present written and oral reports to the class.
Stephen Harrell, the school principal, said, "Mrs. Klein is an exemplary history teacher and has played a vital role in the success of the students at Bonnette Junior High. Mrs. Klein has earned the respect of her peers, and more importantly, her students."
Bradley Grant, who teaches fourth-grade gifted and talented students at Salado Intermediate School in San Antonio, received an Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during the East Central Independent School District board meeting. Liz James, coordinator of educational programs at Humanities Texas, presented the award.
In 2012, Mr. Grant received a Gold Star Award from East Central ISD for his work to provide laptops to all of his students, many of whom have no access to home computers, and for his incorporation of technology into his classroom. From building a green room for students to write and animate scripts to incorporating online research into students' projects, Mr. Grant uses computers to create effective activities and lessons.
"The teaching of subjects in the humanities needs to make effective use of updated technology in order to provide engaging activities and learning opportunities in the modern classroom," said Mr. Grant. "A successful teacher tries to find ways to engage students with technology in order to create an environment of discovery and enrichment within the classroom."
"Mr. Grant is a conscientious and dedicated teacher who has enjoyed great popularity and reputation on our campus as an exemplary teacher and leader among his peers," said Ashley Chohlis, former principal of Salado Intermediate School. "His creative ability to engage all learners has made him and his students' achievement stand out from the crowd."
The deadline to nominate a teacher for the 2012–13 awards has passed. Nominated teachers should visit the awards section of our website to apply for an award.