Teachers of the Year for 2015 announced at HISD Celebration of Excellence

HISD held its fourth annual Celebration of Excellence at the Hilton Americas Hotel on May 15, 2015, and one of the evening’s most exciting moments came when the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year were announced.

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Robert Uzick, a fourth-grade teacher at Cunningham Elementary School, and Jessica Joseph, a sixth-grade math teacher at Hogg Middle School, have been named the winners of these awards for 2015.

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Uzick, who has been an educator at that Cunningham since 2009, attributes his success to keeping his focus on the students, rather than the subject matter.

“I do not teach science, standards, or reporting categories to children,” he wrote in an essay on his teaching philosophy. “I teach children about how the world works. With a desire to learn, the possibilities offered by the world are endless. When students will forgo a game of tag with their friends to extend investigations we completed in class, I know I am making a real impact.”

Joseph, who joined Team HISD in 2012, believes that fostering a sense of personal responsibility in each student by providing a safe, positive learning environment is critical to her success.

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“An effective teacher does not simply teach and test the objectives,” she wrote. “An effective teacher helps scholars understand…that they have an obligation to themselves to get better every day. I had to teach them that it was okay to make mistakes and realize that mistakes provide an opportunity to call on a neighbor for encouragement to persevere. Allowing my focus to be on the environment my scholars learned in had a greater impact than I could have ever imagined.”

Uzick and Joseph each received a $5,000 cash award, an engraved plaque, and a one-night weekend stay at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel. They will also advance to the state’s regional Teacher of the Year competition.

In a surprise twist this year, Joseph was also named the “Fan Favorite” for 2015 at the secondary level, after receiving more than 40% of the votes. The elementary Fan Favorite was Angelina Rodriguez from Dogan Elementary School.

Congratulations also go out to the 2015 Beginning Teachers of the Year (Nancy Romero, Pilgrim Academy; José Cordova, Welch MS; and Lauren Hacker, Westside HS), and the winner of the Emily Scott Evans Award (Lauren Ayres, Durham ES). The Evans Award honors one third-grade teacher who makes students excited about learning and respectful of peers and adults, and it includes a $1,500 cash prize.

5 thoughts on “Teachers of the Year for 2015 announced at HISD Celebration of Excellence

  1. Georgette Joseph

    I am so proud of my daughter, Jessica Joseph, 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year. She has only been a teacher for 3 years so this is a great accomplishment. She works tirelessly everyday to encourage her students to just be better. She has teacher’s heart which is very important today. She really “cares” about the education they receive because she knows it will determine their future some day. I know there were many days you just felt like giving up because being a teacher is really hard work but your passion and commitment just kept you going. Great Job Jess!! You really deserve this recognition. I love you.

  2. PAdams

    Congratulations to the 2014-2015 Teachers of the Year. What an accomplishment. Continued success in teaching!

  3. Princess Granger

    Way to go Jessica Joseph! Way to represent! Math Rocks!

    We are proud of you!
    Princess Granger
    Secondary Math Curriculum/Special Education Program Specialist

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