As the year draws to a close, Humanities Texas staff and board members continue to travel across the state to honor our Outstanding Teaching Award winners with their students, colleagues, and elected officials. Each award winner receives $5,000, with an additional $500 for their school to support further excellence in the instruction of the humanities. Read more below about the teachers we celebrated most recently, and stay tuned for more in 2019!
Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus, Humanities Texas Chairman John Kerr, former Humanities Texas Chairman Joseph Krier, and Michael L. Gillette, executive director of Humanities Texas, presented Michael Bailey with a 2018 Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award during a ceremony at Bradley Middle School on November 5, 2018.
A teacher for twenty-five years, Bailey, who retired this year, spent his entire career teaching Texas history at Bradley Middle School.
"To say that Mr. Bailey is just a history teacher is doing a disservice to the most innovative teacher I have ever worked with," said Todd Bloomer, principal of Bradley Middle School. "Through his classes, students not only learn Texas history but also receive their first instruction in public speaking and learn valuable skills working with others."
Since 1998, Bailey has also devoted his time and energy to developing and maintaining the Mill Springs Cabin Educational Learning Center. Bailey bought the Kentucky cabin, and Bradley Middle School loaned him the money to disassemble the cabin and rebuild it on the school campus. Every spring since 2000, fourth-grade students from all over San Antonio visit the cabin and experience Texas history through hands-on activities led by Bailey's seventh-grade students-turned-docents.
"Mr. Bailey is a talented, dedicated educator who is making a very positive difference in his students' lives," said Speaker Straus. "This recognition is a testament to his commitment and to the great learning environment created by Mr. Bailey and all of his colleagues at Bradley Middle School. I want to thank Humanities Texas for honoring this truly important work."
U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady and Humanities Texas Board Member Chase Untermeyer presented Beaven with a 2018 Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award during Montgomery Junior High School's Annual Veterans Day Ceremony on November 9, 2018.
Beaven, whose career as an educator spans nearly thirty years, has spent the last thirteen years at Montgomery Junior High School teaching Texas history, U.S. history, and world history.
"I love teaching Texas history, and I believe it is important for my students to know their heritage—to know the stories of the people and the events that came before they did," said Beaven when asked about the importance of teaching Texas history. "Seventh-grade students are at a difficult period in their lives. It is important for them to know that they all have that capability to do something great and to stand tall when needed."
In addition to serving as department head for the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade teaching teams, Beaven leads programs for and is a board member of the Montgomery County Historical Commission and the Montgomery Historical Society. She works to preserve Montgomery's history through events like the annual Cultural Fair and the Montgomery Scavenger Hunt, during which all seventh-graders explore Montgomery's historical buildings and sites.
Beaven also cofounded Lone Star Honor Flight, organizing and receiving donations to send five hundred World War II veterans to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
"Brenda Beaven embodies the very best example of a committed teacher and community member," said Congressman Brady. "Whether it’s her work as a teacher of Texas history, mentoring and inspiring her students, or as a patriot and advocate for our veterans in her role with Lone Star Honor Flight, Brenda’s selflessness and dedication make her worthy of this honor."
Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt and Humanities Texas Coordinator of Public Programs Kelsi Tyler presented Kim-Ling Sun with a 2018 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award at Jersey Village High School on November 16, 2018.
Sun teaches English I and II to English language learners and is the acting writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools at Jersey Village High School.
"Studying the humanities helps us connect with those outside of our immediate cultural, economic, and political spheres," stated Sun. "When we investigate the history, literature, and cultures of others, we invite ourselves to be more open to the world around us."
Sun's holistic approach to teaching extends far beyond her classroom walls. To her students, past and present, she acts as a mentor. She coordinates donation drives and assembles "welcome" backpacks to distribute to students on the first day of class. She spends countless hours outside of class helping students register and prepare for the SAT, compose their college essays, and complete financial aid forms.
"Despite having an advanced degree in English, which qualifies her to teach advanced level courses, Ms. Sun chooses to help one of our most struggling populations," commented Michelle Arroyo-Peterson, director of instruction for Jersey Village High School. "Her students' struggle with language does not stop Ms. Sun from providing them with opportunities unmatched on our campus."