We kicked off the new year by presenting two more exceptional educators with a 2018 Outstanding Teaching Award for excellence in the instruction of the humanities! Read more about these award-winning teachers below.

For those teachers who have been nominated for a 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award, congratulations on being recognized for your achievements in the classroom. You have until February 8, 2019, to complete the online application and tell us more about yourself, your teaching philosophy, and your accomplishments. This spring, our board of directors will select fifteen finalists to receive a $5,000 prize, with an additional $500 for their schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials. Don't let the deadline pass you by!

Janelle Bence, New Tech High School, Coppell

Congressman Kenny Marchant's Outreach Coordinator Rhett Gum and Humanities Texas Program Officer Sam Moore presented Janelle Bence with a 2018 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during a ceremony at New Tech High School on Friday, January 18, 2019.

Bence, whose teaching careers spans eighteen years, is the ninth-grade English Facilitator at New Tech High School. She also teaches a cross-curricular humanities course in partnership with a digital literacy teacher.

"We live in a connected world, and never has it been truer that one event can impact more lives than imaginable," commented Bence. "Humanities education encourages us to reflect rather than just react. It is essential that we explore stories in order to gain multiple perspectives. Regardless of medium, these stories encourage us to find connections and a deeper understanding of the world around us"

Bence's humanities course is a unique experience for her ninth-grade students. She engages her "rookie" learners through projects like Slamming for a Cause, an event in which her students showcase original slam poems, based on research of current events, and hold a silent auction to raise money for the charity they specifically choose for the event. In addition to her teaching, Bence is also on the board of directors of the National Writing Project, active in the National Council of Teachers of English, and frequently presents at national conferences.

"Janelle is a master at guiding learners to look at themselves in relation to others, whether it be another student in the classroom or someone across the world," stated Norrie Brassfield, a Coppell ISD instructional coach and colleague of Bence. "Her students respect her and love her. She is approachable, enthusiastic, and has a genuine interest in each student in all aspects of their lives."

Krista Boivie, Reedy High School, Frisco

Humanities Texas Program Officer Sam Moore presented Krista Boivie with a 2018 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during a ceremony at Reedy High School on January 7, 2019.

In addition to teaching world history and a blended freshman and sophomore humanities course, Boivie served as the campus social studies department chair and instructional coach.

"As a humanities teacher, I aim to instill not only an understanding of the past but a deep-seated ability to think critically about the world," commented Boivie. "Early in my career, I recognized a glaring need for a curriculum that would engage and illustrate the diversity of my students, as well as show them how to make real-world connections to the material."

As a world history teacher, Boivie traveled to Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey as an education delegate. In 2017, she received a Fulbright-Hays grant to study in Jordan and develop curriculum surrounding Middle Eastern history and culture. Boivie complemented her travels and class content by organizing field trips to sites, including local Hindu temples and the Dallas Museum of Art, that broaden her students' worldview.

"When I opened Reedy High School, my mission was to choose people who would go above and beyond to inspire and challenge their students and help them find their passion," said Principal Karen LeCocq. "Krista's passion spills over to her students, who fall in love with her class, but also inspires them to find something they are similarly passionate about."

(From l to r:) Congressman Kenny Marchant's Outreach Coordinator Rhett Gum, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for New Tech High School Deana Dynis, OTA winner Janelle Bence, Humanities Texas Program Officer Sam Moore, and New Tech High School Principal Steffany Batik.
Janelle Bence with New Tech High School students.
(From l to r:) Humanities Texas Program Officer Sam Moore, OTA winner Krista Boivie, and Reedy High School Principal Karen LeCocq at Boivie's award presentation in January.
Krista Boivie with some of her former students.