Each year, Humanities Texas presents statewide awards to recognize Texas classroom teachers who have made exemplary contributions in teaching, curriculum development, and extracurricular programming. Each award winner receives $5,000, with an additional $1,000 for their schools to support further excellence in the instruction of the humanities. We are pleased to feature two more of our 2022 Outstanding Teaching Award recipients and their recent award presentations.
On February 27, 2023, Texas State Representative Ernest Bailes and former Humanities Texas board member Caroline Crimm presented Megan Durtche with an Outstanding Early-Career Teaching Award during a presentation at Santa Fe Middle School.
Durtche has been a classroom teacher for four years. At the time of the award, she taught history at Cleveland High School, and she is now an instructional coach at Santa Fe Middle School. Durtche has been active in the schools' communities, serving as an AP tutor outside of school hours, sponsoring the history travel club, and serving on the Cleveland Climate Committee alongside other faculty, students, and community members.
"When deciding to become a teacher, I had no doubts about what to teach," commented Durtche. "All subjects are important, but the humanities offer us a chance to inspire future generations. The world around us revolves around stories. Movies, music, conversations around dinner tables, and even advertisements are all connected to humanities. As students take this question-based approach to history, they can begin to see a web of information appear before them."
"Mrs. Durtche is a leader on her campus," said Stephen W. McCanless, superintendent of Cleveland ISD. "She is an advocate for building student relationships and reaching all students. Because of her effective classroom management, she has been asked by the director of professional development to train other teachers. She has also created curriculum and a website to support teachers and students."
On February 17, 2023, Humanities Texas Executive Director Eric Lupfer and Humanities Texas Director of Advancement Betty Hewell presented Ariana Luna with an Outstanding Early-Career Teaching Award during a presentation at Donna High School.
Luna taught AP world history, AP psychology and world geography at Donna Early College High School (DECHS) for two years and social studies at Donna High School for the past year. During that time, she founded the DECHS Psychology Club and sponsored the DECHS Debate Club. Additionally, Luna and a colleague started the podcast "Mi Valle, Mi Vida," which focuses on local history surrounding the Rio Grande Valley.
"I do what I wanted my teachers to do with us in my secondary classes. Every day I come in with enthusiasm, drive, and energy. I get excited with what I'm teaching. I lecture content, but when I do this with any of the subjects I teach, I relate it back to [my students]," commented Luna.
Allison J. Ortega, Donna ISD social studies coordinator, said, "First and foremost, Ms. Luna is a student advocate, and she is cherished by her students. She firmly believes that all students should feel represented in the content that they are learning. Given her passion for Mexican American studies, Ms. Luna actively seeks ways to make connections between those individuals in the Social Studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and her students' lives."