Samuel Saenz was a KBR Science TOTY in 2013 and a finalist for HISD’s secondary TOTY in 2014
The East Early College High School (EECHS) physics teacher, who placed second for KBR’s Science Teacher of the Year in 2013 and was a finalist for HISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2014, has been named the National Southeastern Consortium of Minorities in Engineering (SECME) Teacher of the Year for 2015.
“Each year, SECME accepts nominations for extraordinary educators to be recognized for their dedication, creativity, and professionalism in inspiring students’ interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),” said SECME, Inc. Interim Executive Director Michele Williams. “Mr. Saenz clearly demonstrates all of the qualities that SECME encourages in educators to accomplish our mission to engage and prepare a diverse pool of students for college and careers in STEM.”
“Mr. Saenz is not only a life-long teacher but a life-long learner,” added EECHS Principal Tamera Bolden. “His tireless work and tremendous enthusiasm for everything related to robotics and science are what continue to draw students into the STEM field. He is driven, knowledgeable, humble, and very innovative. He is also a tremendous resource for teachers who are new to the campus, and he freely shares his knowledge and supplies with them.”
Bolden noted that for many students, Saenz serves not only as their teacher, but also as a father figure.
“Students who have never been out of Houston—much less on an airplane—have traveled with him all around Texas (some staying at a hotel for the first time in their lives) and have competed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and other states,” she said. “He makes sure that before they travel, make presentations, or even go into a restaurant, they understand the expectations and social etiquette. Because of him, our students are confident no matter who they are speaking to or where they are. “
As the 2015 winner, Saenz will be formally recognized on June 25, 2015, during the 39th Annual SECME Summer Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He will receive a cash award, a scholarship to the institute (valued at $3,000), and his school will receive a $500 classroom mini-grant sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation.