Press Releases

Michael L. Gillette: 512.440.1991
Date: September 6, 2018

Exemplary Dallas Teacher Receives Statewide Award

Melody Townsel of the Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Dallas has been selected by Humanities Texas as one of ten recipients of the 2018 Humanities Texas Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.

Humanities Texas Program Officer Sam Moore will present Townsel with her award during the State of School & Arts Season Kick-Off at Booker T. Washington HSPVA on Friday, September 7 at 6 pm. Townsel will receive a $5,000 cash award, with an additional $500 for the school to purchase instructional materials.

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 over 750 nominations for the 2018 awards.

Townsel, who is in her ninth year of teaching, teaches U.S. history, AP English Language and AP English Literature.

“Now more than ever, a humanities-focused education is critical,” commented Townsel. “A solid foundation in the humanities provides students with the skills and context they need to think critically; to evaluate information independently; to not just tolerate, but to embrace, ambiguity; to examine complicated issues from multiple points of view; to analyze and powerfully communicate their position on issues of import; and, perhaps most important, to better understand humanity in all of its depth.”

Townsel is an interdisciplinary leader on her campus. In 2017, the National Arts School Network selected her to present on her strategies using music, visual arts, dance, debate and written expression to teach history and English language arts concepts. Her students practice oration and argument, for example, while debating the existence of Santa Claus; they study satire and rhetoric by delivering oral analyses of newspaper articles and current events.

“Ms. Townsel is committed to helping students prepare for their academic and arts futures by blurring the lines and seeking cross-sector application of the creative endeavor,” stated M. Scott Tatum, the dean of arts conservatories for Dallas ISD. “Her students are happy, challenged and prepared for whatever comes next with their joy for learning still intact.”

“Humanities Texas is pleased to recognize the achievements of Ms. Townsel and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts,” said Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “She inspires and motivates her students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

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.

Humanities Texas is currently accepting nominations for the 2019 Outstanding Teaching Awards. Additional information about Humanities Texas and its teacher award program is available at

# # #
1410 Rio Grande Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 440-1991

Press Inquiries

Call 512.440.1991 or email


High resolution versions of the Humanities Texas logo are available for download on the logo page.

Melody Townsel.

Press Image

Download the above image for use with this press release.