Press Releases

JANUARY 17, 2018
CONTACT: MICHAEL L. GILLETTE at (512) 440-1991

Austin ISD Teacher Receives Statewide Early-Career Teaching Award

Humanities Texas is pleased to announce that Natalie Fontenot of John H. Reagan Early College High School in Austin is one of three recipients of the 2017 Humanities Texas Award for Outstanding Early-Career Teaching.

Texas State Senator Kirk Watson will present Fontenot with her award during a ceremony at Reagan Early College High School on Thursday, January 18.

Humanities Texas presents annual statewide awards to encourage excellence in teaching and recognize Texas classroom teachers who have made exemplary contributions in teaching, curriculum development and extracurricular programming. The organization received nearly 700 nominations for the 2017 awards.

Fontenot has been teaching at Reagan Early College High School for three years. Her primary subject area is U.S. history, but she also teaches a social studies skills course at both Reagan and Austin Community College. In her first year of teaching, she was awarded “Teacher of Promise,” a distinction given to first year teachers who show exceptional dedication, leadership and skill in the classroom.

“Natalie has shown dedication and passion to education throughout her time at Reagan Early College High School,” said Principal Anabel Garza. “She is an asset to our school in the classroom and to our Reagan community.”

In addition to her U.S. history classes, Fontenot created Reagan’s STAAR re-tester curriculum for students who failed to pass their end-of-course exams. Her interactive and skills-based lessons engage students using music, images and primary sources and allow them to practice the critical thinking and analytical skills necessary to be successful on state exams.

“My approach to teaching U.S. history is to use content to teach students to question and learn about the world around them,” said Fontenot. “In today’s society, when information is abundantly accessible any time we desire it, the most important skills we can teach students in the humanities are to analyze, interpret, question and synthesize material they are interacting with.”

“I’m proud of the teachers across Texas and Senate District 14,” said Senator Watson. “Natalie Fontenot is a tremendous example of the dedication and commitment of teachers in our public schools. She inspires her students and fellow faculty every day and makes our public education system great.”

“Humanities Texas is pleased to recognize the achievements of Natalie Fontenot and Reagan Early College High School,” said Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “Fontenot inspires and motivates her students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

Fontenot will receive a $5,000 cash award, with an additional $500 for Reagan Early College High School to purchase instructional materials.

Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to advance education through programs that improve the quality of classroom teaching, support libraries and museums and create opportunities for lifelong learning for all Texans.

Additional information about Humanities Texas and its teacher award program is available at

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Natalie Fontenot.

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