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.
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.
“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.