Each year, Humanities Texas presents statewide awards to recognize Texas classroom teachers who have made exemplary contributions in teaching, curriculum development, and extracurricular programming. We are pleased to feature two of our 2023 Outstanding Teaching Award recipients and their award presentations. Each award winner received $5,000, with an additional $1,000 for their schools to support further excellence in the instruction of the humanities.

Read more below about the teachers we recently celebrated, and stay tuned for upcoming newsletter features on our other winners!

Scott Frank, IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville

On January 16, 2024, Texas State Senator Morgan LaMantia presented Scott Frank with the 2023 Humanities Texas James F. Veninga Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during a presentation at IDEA Frontier College Preparatory in Brownsville.

Frank, who has been teaching social studies for thirteen years, provides a highly structured and rigorous learning environment for his students. He creates elaborate concept maps that serve as learning scaffolds, allowing students to build confidence and tackle sophisticated historical thinking skills. Frank also serves as the UIL coach for social studies and current events, Model United Nations faculty advisor, and IB History district course leader. Prior to teaching in Texas he taught in Kosovo, a region grappling with the aftershock of genocide, where he took part in a conference on social issues that allowed students to present research topics and connect across differences and painful histories.

"When multiple lenses of looking at the world are applied, we see another point of view more holistically," said Frank. "Instead of 'the other,' we begin to see their humanness in all their complexity. I believe the humanities offer a panoramic vision of our world as it was, is, and could be when we all strive together in the same direction."

"[Mr. Frank] has completely changed the way I see education, students, curriculum, effort, and passion . . . while redefining, for me, what it looks like to work towards something bigger than yourself," said colleague Evelyn Lara.

"Mr. Frank goes above and beyond to ensure that one hundred percent of our students are college ready," said Assistant Principal Linda Kaney. "His dedication to his craft is evident when you enter his classroom. As soon as you walk in, you are engaged in learning."

Graciela Cano, Harwell Elementary School, Lubbock

On January 29, 2024, Humanities Texas Board Member Sean Cunningham and Texas State Senator Charles Perry presented Graciela Cano with a 2023 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award during a presentation at Harwell Elementary School in Lubbock.

Cano has been teaching in elementary schools for over twenty-eight years. For the past five years, she has also taught courses at Texas Tech University on pedagogy for linguistically and culturally diverse students.

"I see many of my students who have grown up and have graduated," said Cano. "It makes me feel proud knowing that I was able to help them reach their potential and go on to further their education."

"I couldn’t be prouder of Mrs. Cano," remarked Harwell Elementary Principal Reyna Torres. "When I first worked with her up until this date, I can see how passionate she is about supporting students, future and current teachers, and the community in their own pursuit of excellence. Her own background and experiences as an emergent bilingual have prepared her to advocate and help those that need a voice!"






Texas State Senator Morgan LaMantia (left) and 2023 OTA winner Scott Frank during Frank's award presentation at IDEA Frontier College Preparatory in Brownsville.







2023 OTA winner Graciela Cano with her students during Cano's award presentation at Harwell Elementary School in Lubbock.