It's a new year with new outstanding teachers to recognize! 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. Learn more about these exceptional educators below.

And a reminder to those teachers who were nominated for a 2021 Outstanding Teaching Award—be sure to submit your application by February 5!

Elizabeth Irish, Don T. Durham Intermediate School, Southlake

Humanities Texas awarded Elizabeth Irish of Don T. Durham Intermediate School in Southlake a 2020 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award, which recognizes exemplary K–12 humanities teachers. In her eighteen years of teaching, Irish has taught various levels and multiple subjects within the humanities, including U.S. history, world geography, and a class on contemporary world cultures. She currently teaches sixth-grade social studies at Durham Intermediate School. 

"I want my students to walk out of my classroom with the ability to be independent thinkers and doers, to be well equipped and motivated to effect change, to be able to stand up for what they believe, and to have true civic virtue," said Irish. "Our republic and our global community need individuals with these skills more than ever, and a strong background in the humanities will help ensure that."

In addition to teaching, Irish has also coached numerous University Interscholastic League (UIL) Academic teams in Social Studies, Literary Criticism, Current Issues, Ready Writing, and Spelling, winning a total of eight state championships. 

"The kind of environment Mrs. Irish has created for her students is unparalleled," said Carroll ISD Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction Gina Peddy. "Not only do her students come to class prepared to work, they trust her. They are comfortable in class, comfortable standing up for their ideas, and trust that she has their best interest at heart."

Patience LaBlanc, Fowler Middle School, Plano

Humanities Texas awarded Patience LeBlanc of Fowler Middle School in Plano a 2020 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. LeBlanc, whose classroom career spans twenty years, currently teaches U.S. history, world history, and constitutional law at Fowler Middle School.

"My teaching approach and methods include three aspects," stated LeBlanc, "knowing and working to advance every student, cultivating collaborative learning for success, and bringing history alive."

Outside of teaching history and constitutional law, LaBlanc also serves as a consultant in the Law-Related Education Department of the State Bar of Texas, where she works with teachers throughout Texas. She writes and creates curriculum for their website, workshops, and institutes.

"Her passion for her subject is apparent in all she does, and she is dedicated to serving the needs of all her students, always modifying and supplementing her curriculum in order to provide the best education for the diversity in her classroom and in the entire social studies department," said former colleague Glenda Sitzler. "She values an education and works diligently to do her best on everything she does."

Albert Peinado, Eastwood Knolls International School, El Paso

Albert Peinado of Eastwood Knolls International School in El Paso is the recipient of the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award, which recognizes exemplary Texas history teachers. At Eastwood Knolls, where he has spent four of his fifteen years teaching, Peinado teaches Texas history through dual language instruction in English and Spanish.

"My students love coming into my classroom, and I love seeing them come in," commented Peinado. "It gives me great pleasure to hear students and parents alike say that, before they had me as a teacher, they disliked history, and now it's their favorite subject."

In addition to teaching Texas history, Peinado also serves on the Curriculum Advisory Board for his district, where he assists in planning, creating, and vetting assessments in order to provide a uniform curriculum to ensure equity of student learning across the district.

"Mr. Peinado is passionate about teaching Texas history, and he makes the material both interesting and relevant to our students," commented Eastwood Knolls International Principal Robert L. Martinez. "Mr. Peinado is dedicated and committed to his craft, and it shows daily in his lesson planning, lesson delivery, and in his sharing of knowledge with his colleagues."

OTA winner Elizabeth Irish with her certificate.
OTA winner Patience LaBlanc dressed as a Mayflower passenger with her son.
OTA winner Albert Peinado with students at Eastwood Knolls International School.