2022 Appreciated Teacher Awards
As a teacher’s credit union, one of the many ways we demonstrate our support and gratitude for educators is through our Appreciated Teacher Awards. This is a recognition program that commends outstanding teachers within our field of membership, which now includes all districts and accredited schools in Texas. For our 2022 Appreciated Teacher Awards, we received hundreds of nominations from over 31 different school districts across the state of Texas. A committee composed of credit union management team members selected five finalists from all the nominations received, who are listed below.
The finalist with the most votes will be awarded the title of Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union’s 2022 Appreciated Teacher of the Year and receive a $2,500 grand prize. The remaining finalists will receive a $500 honorarium. The 2022 Appreciated Teacher of the Year will be announced the week of May 16th, 2022.
2022 Appreciated Teacher Award Finalists
Click the names below to read a description for each of our Appreciated Teacher Award Finalists.
1. Victoria Way - Katy ISD
1. Victoria Way – Katy ISD
Victoria Way is the founding Director of the Jordan High School Legacies Dance Team. She was the first Tompkins High School Crimson Cavalettes Assistant Director. Prior to opening Jordan High School, she established the first JV Dance Team at OTHS, Crimson Pride. She has instructed all levels of dance throughout her teaching career and truly loves the relationships she develops with all of her students. She has built the Legacies Dance Team and dance program at Jordan from the ground up and is passionate about resilient relationships with her students, building confidence in students and teaching them valuable life lessons through dance. She is passionate about fine arts advocacy and loves sharing with her students the ways that fine arts has impacted her life and can impact theirs, regardless of their future careers!
Victoria is a graduate of Texas State University where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Education with a minor in English. She currently holds teaching certification in dance, physical education as well as in English. Victoria was very involved in the Texas State University Dance Department, receiving several scholarships including the Gwen K. Smith Endowed Scholarship for Dance Educators. She is a former member of Orchesis Dance Company and danced in Austin, Texas for a semi-professional cheerleading team. Victoria was on her high school drill team, the Creekview Chevals, where she found her love of dance and served in leadership her junior and senior year. Victoria was also in orchestra all throughout her high school career.
She has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 6 years. They just welcomed their daughter Karsyn Elise into the world in May of 2021!
2. Brandi Perry - Friendswood ISD
2. Brandi Perry – Friendswood ISD
Teaching is not always an easy profession, however my approach is fairly simple. I design my classroom around these ideas and principles: consistently show all students love, meet students where they are in their personal learning journey, and set high and individualized expectations. This recipe has helped all students to show success in the classroom. My coworkers attest that through well planned and high interest lessons, my young four and five year old’s acquire strong foundational learning skills in both academics and social emotional development. I have the privilege of teaching the youngest and most at risk full time learners in our district. Students that are educationally disadvantaged, have been in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, children of active military, students who are homeless, and students who are unable to speak and comprehend the English language are students entrusted to my care. This is a job that I don’t take lightly. I consider it a privilege and a unique charge to be the one who is responsible for laying their foundation. The foundational bricks that begin in my classroom will be the very starting place where all other educators and life experiences will be built upon. It is this foundation that they will carry throughout their academic career.
My journey as an educator began with educating my own two children. I began homeschooling my boys due to the medical needs of my youngest son and later when they attended public school, I spent time as a substitute teacher. In 2015, I was hired in my current district as a paraprofessional while I completed my Texas teaching license. While I was a paraprofessional, I served in both Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten populations. While serving in this capacity, my administrators surprised me with a “Making a Difference” award. This award recognizes one staff member for going above and beyond in order to support students. In 2017, after completing my Texas Teaching License, I began teaching full time as a certified teacher. When our district decided to become a full day Prekindergarten program in 2019, I was one of the implementing staff members in the full day program. I was instrumental in choosing the curriculum, as well as setting the expectations and goals for the full day program. When the full day program began, I knew that I wanted it to be a success and I believed although it was a new concept, that It would be a good change for students and would allow for students to blossom. In 2022, I was nominated for Teacher of the Year by my campus peers. Their nominations recognized me for my work in the Pre-Kindergarten department, my work ethic, my high expectations for my students, and my positive attitude towards students with challenging needs.
The growth Pre-Kindergarten students show daily is exponential and it is one of the main reasons why I love teaching. Although their academic and social emotional growth is significant and oftentimes stunning, the growth does not occur without a tremendous amount of work. Acquiring new skills are often met with difficulty, resistance, uncertainty, and can be labor intensive. Knowing that it will be challenging, I ask my students to show up daily with a positive outlook. I challenge my students to learn a new skill; to try something they have never tried before. I ask them to stretch themselves and I push them beyond their comfort zone on a daily
basis. Because my students put in such an effort, they in turn, inspire me to show up, even when it is hard. This year it has been hard. In early January 2022 my husband suddenly and unexpectedly became ill and he passed away in late January. I push my students to overcome the hardest of obstacles, and this year, it was my students who in turn pushed me to show strength. My students exude happiness and life. They laugh, they cry, they squeal, they run, jump, hop and skip. They always persevere when life is hard. Together we show up, we challenge ourselves, and together we try our very best.
3. Lauren Palos - Pasadena ISD
3. Lauren Palos – Pasadena ISD
Lauren Palos is a first-grade self-contained teacher at Stuchbery Elementary in Pasadena ISD, a school in which 82% of the students are identified as economically disadvantaged. Ms. Palos is an alumna of Pasadena ISD and began her journey as a professional educator five years ago as Title 1 instructional aide, a role through which she serviced students in small groups for intervention and enrichment. She has spent the last four years teaching first-grade students, and Ms. Palos’s resiliency as an educator is evident in how she takes classrooms of six-year-olds who come from various backgrounds and with diverse needs and creates communities of mathematicians and readers within the walls of her school, a school in which she was once a student herself.
Ms. Palos’ unique blended learning teaching style, particularly with mathematics, is evident when you walk into her classroom and see her young students engaged in mathematics and empowered with strategies and tools to help them be successful with their learning. Her teaching style is student-directed and includes mathematics routines that promote students’ number sense such as Number Talks, Choral Counting, and Counting Collections; whole group and data-informed small group instruction that includes student engagement, student discourse, student use of academic language, mathematics tools such as manipulatives and toolkits, and the use of technology-based platforms to guide and monitor student learning; and data-informed workstations that promote students’ retention of previously learned concepts and proficiency with number-based fact fluency strategies. Because of Ms. Palos’ belief that parents are full-time partners in their child’s education, she has created two classroom initiatives, “Mystery Reader” and “Mystery Mathematician”, in which parents are invited into her classroom to participate in content-specific activities with all of her students. These initiatives have created excitement in her classroom and have empowered parents to feel confident as valued contributors to their child’s learning environment.
Ms. Palos’s instructional strategies have impacted the lives of her students and the success of the other teachers and students at her school and across her school district in many ways. Within her school community, she has facilitated campus presentations such as “Technology Training” and “Launching Seesaw” and served as a Team Leader, New Teacher Mentor, and Mathematics Vertical Alignment Committee Member. Ms. Palos has co-facilitated several initiatives at her campus including “Mathematizing the Campus”, “Mathematics Spirit Week”, and the district’s first ever elementary “Mathematics Bee”. Within her district community, Ms. Palos has facilitated district presentations such as “Seesaw for Reading Instruction K-2 Professional Development” and “Seesaw Updates for Mathematics Coaches” and served as an Elementary Mathematics Teacher Leadership Team Member, an Emerging Teacher Leaders in Mathematics Education Academy Member, and an exemplar classroom for virtual instruction and blended learning. She has supported numerous district-level mathematics curriculum projects such as “Mathematics Routines: Number Talks, Choral Counting, Counting Collections” and “Seesaw Digital Library for K-2 Mathematics” as well as district-level literacy curriculum projects. Ms. Palos was the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Stuchbery Elementary.
Outside of her school and district community, Ms. Palos is active on Twitter (@LaurenPalos), a platform through which she shares the work of her classroom and connects with other educators throughout the nation. She authored the article” Choral Counting in Action” for the 2021 Fall/Winter Texas Mathematics Teacher journal, a publication of the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (TCTM) and also received one of TCTM’s grants to purchase manipulatives for her mathematics classroom.
Ms. Palos is a Seesaw Learning Ambassador, a Kahoot! Certified Educator, a TCEA Certified Educator Effective Math: K-2, and a Flipgrid Certificated Educator and has presented conference sessions at the regional (Region 4 ESC), state (CAMT), and national/global (Seesaw Connect Global Conference) levels. She is a member of the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Texas Computer Education Association.
Ms. Palos’ commitment to educational excellence is evident in the ways in which she works to support her students’ success in mathematics while also supporting other mathematics educators in their efforts to ensure that all students learn at high levels. Ms. Palos is a particularly special teacher in that she is changing the trajectory of the lives of students at Stuchbery Elementary and it is evident in her students’ sense of efficacy with mathematics … and their performance in mathematics!
4. Jacob Miller - Cleveland ISD
4. Jacob Miller – Cleveland ISD
I am currently in my third year teaching at Southside Elementary in Cleveland ISD serving as a third grade math and science teacher in our dual language program. Over the course of my short career I have accomplished being grade chair, participated in our school’s STEM club; I also attended the 2021-2022 aspiring administrators academy for Cleveland ISD. This year I became a mentor for student teachers through our partnership with the University of Houston and was nominated for the 2022 Southside Elementary teacher of the year. My students have blossomed this year academically and I look forward to continuing my career in the field of education!
5. Teresa Black - Goose Creek CISD
5. Teresa “Faye” Felder Black – Goose Creek CISD
Teresa “Faye” Felder Black was a proud graduate of Ross S. Sterling High School – Class of 1981, Lee College and Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. An educator for the past twenty-one years, Faye excelled in her work. She was a beloved member of the Baytown Junior High (BJS) staff working as a Special Education Teacher since 2006. She thoroughly enjoyed teaching Language Arts & Writing Composition to 6th-8th graders. During her tenure at BJS, Faye also tutored students in STAAR objectives, implemented the “Fast ForWord” Reading Program and served as the Robotics UIL Coach and the Special Education Team Lead. Prior to teaching at BJS, she taught at St. Joseph School from 2001-2006.
Among Faye’s many accomplishments was implementing Science Labs in collaboration with retired ExxonMobil Scientists; leading after school tutoring through the GCCISD Title 1 program; serving as Student Council-Sponsor, OLWEUS Bullying Team member, 8th Grade Banquet-Planner, PTO Teacher Representative, sponsor and member of the Christian Student Union/Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Washington D.C. – School Trip Coordinator. She was also an AVID Team Member and actively involved in the Boys Athletic Booster Club.
Faye’s genuine commitment to educating and supporting students did not go unnoticed. While at St. Joseph School, she was awarded Teacher of the Year and the Monsignor O’Sullivan Teacher Excellence Award. She was awarded Teacher of the Year again at BJS for the 2018-2019 school year.