As this semester draws to a close, we at Humanities Texas once again want to applaud all classroom teachers across the state. We have always admired the dedication, professionalism, and creativity of Texas educators, and that admiration has only increased in light of the unforeseen challenges of the last nine months. This December, we are pleased to feature three more 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award recipients. Each teacher received $5,000, with an additional $1,000 for their school to support further excellence in the instruction of the humanities.

Patsy Hall, Richland Springs High School, Richland Springs

Humanities Texas awarded Patsy Hall of Richland Springs High School a 2020 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award, which recognizes exemplary K–12 humanities teachers. Her classroom career spans forty-one years, and she has spent the last twelve years at Richland Springs High School teaching English language arts and theatre.

"I use literature and theatre to teach not only the human condition but life skills as well," she commented. "My goal is for students to be become successful, contributing citizens with a command of the language, an ability to learn from and enjoy reading, an understanding and appreciation for literature and history, and the possession of the skills they need to think for themselves."

Outside of teaching English language arts, Hall has directed plays, pageants, and Reader's Theatre in her community. She has also raised funds for and sponsored trips to New York City for her students to visit museums, theaters, and historical sites.

"Patsy Hall's current and former students are good examples of the great teaching knowledge she instills in those fortunate enough to share her vision of the humanities," said Richland Springs ISD Superintendent Don Fowler. "I have seen her devote countless hours helping students achieve success by sharing her knowledge of ELA, all genres of reading, writing, and One-Act Play activities."

Susan Henson, Dawson High School, Pearland

Humanities Texas awarded Susan Henson of Dawson High School in Pearland a 2020 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Her classroom career spans twenty-two years, and she has taught AP English III at Dawson High School for the last four years.

"As an educator, being successful for me means creating a student-centered classroom where every student feels supported, cared for, and successful," stated Henson. "My biggest accomplishment has been as a teacher of writing, helping young people realize the power of the written word and how to use it for good."

Outside of teaching, Henson serves as a reader and table leader for the annual Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam, scoring exams, and training other readers.

"Beyond creative and innovative approaches to connect the work of AP English Literature to the real world, Susan is also innovative in developing new methods for all students to access the Advanced Placement curriculum," said colleague Allison Gulamhussein. "She is a teacher who inspires a love of learning in students and a love of teaching in humanities teachers."

Erika Koenig, Palacios High School, Palacios

Humanities Texas awarded Erika Koenig of Palacios High School a 2020 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Her classroom career spans fifteen years, all of which she has devoted to teaching English at Palacios High School. Koenig has also served as head of the English department since 2006. 

"My overarching professional goal is to guide students into becoming constructive citizens," stated Koenig. "I want my students to think critically about their place in the world; therefore, I take every opportunity to exhibit to them someone they can respect for the mark she is making on the world."

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Koenig also serves as a National Honor Society (NHS) advisor, acting as a liaison between school faculty, administration, students, and the local community. She has coordinated annual blood drives and overseen NHS members serving approximately 4,900 community hours.

"Mrs. Koenig continually demonstrates innovation in education by painstakingly customizing her curriculum each year to engage the students in our small, rural community and her passion for excellence by setting high expectations for both herself and her students," said Palacios High School Principal Stephanie Garcia. "Mrs. Koenig's passion for teaching and unyielding commitment to the field inspires all of us to be better educators."





OTA winner Patsy Hall with students in her Richland Springs High School classroom.







OTA winner Susan Henson with students at the 2018 AP Annual Conference.

OTA winner Erika Koenig with students at Palacios High School.