Category Archives: Teachers

Eliot ES teacher named January Teacher of the Month

On a chilly Tuesday morning at Eliot Elementary School, fourth-grade ELA teacher Fernando Lopez was teaching his students how to analyze a story when he was suddenly summoned to the school parking lot for a special surprise.

Cars covered in painted messages and decorations drove by Lopez, cheering him on for being named HISD’s January Teacher of the Month – not only for effectively teaching his students English, but also for helping them develop a love of reading. As a thank-you for his hard work, he will be driving a 2021 Honda CR-V, courtesy Sterling McCall Honda.

An alumnus of Eliot Elementary School, Lopez has dedicated the last 22 years to helping ensure his students grow in their acquisition of a second language and their ability to effectively read and communicate through writing.

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Robinson ES teacher named December Teacher of the Month

Fifth-grade math teacher Jennifer Harwell was teaching her students at Robinson Elementary School how to multiply decimals when she was pulled out of her classroom for a special surprise.

Harwell was named HISD’s December Teacher of the Month for making learning about numbers exciting for all students, even those who may not always enjoy math. As a thank you for her hard work, this holiday season, she will be driving a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT, courtesy Sterling McCall Chevrolet.

Harwell is also a team lead for fifth grade and ensures her team works cohesively and actively collaborates with other grade levels to align instruction and good practices. This year, she has taken on the role of Career Pathways Instructional Excellence Coach and is working to coach new teachers on effective practices and quality instruction for all students.

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Walnut Bend ES teacher named November Teacher of the Month

Fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher Molly Lashway thought she was finishing up a conference with her principal when she saw a parade of decorated vehicles coming around the corner outside.

As cars covered in colorful balloons and streamers rolled past to the sound of happy music, Walnut Bend Elementary School Principal Michele Dahlquist revealed to Lashway that she had been named the district’s November Teacher of the Month.

“I had no idea that this was happening this morning,” Lashway said. “I’m just glad I didn’t come to school dressed like a pilgrim today, because that was something that I considered for the day before Thanksgiving Break. But I’m really grateful for all of this.”

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Madison HS teacher honored for work in health, physical education

Madison High School teacher Paula Ceaser has been awarded the 2020 K-12 Health Education Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD).

The award is in recognition of “excellence and leadership in the HPERD profession for demonstrating leadership, achieving excellence, and being an outstanding representative of the teaching profession.”

Ceaser has taught physical education at Madison for 12 years and serves as a department chair and a lead teacher for HISD, helping to shape curriculum for health and physical education across the district. Ceaser said her role has allowed her to bring new opportunities and ideas to her students, from archery and fishing to participation in a grant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote adolescent health initiatives.

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HISD now recruiting associate teachers

The Houston Independent School District is actively recruiting associate (substitute) teachers.

Associate teachers play a vital role in student learning by helping continue campus efficiency when a teacher is absent.

Because HISD is the largest and the most diverse district in Texas, associate teachers will have the opportunity to work with students from many different cultural backgrounds and network with exceptional principals and teachers.

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Unique masks help students innovate, adapt at T.H. Rogers

Asusena Gonzales’ 9-year-old son, Brandon Martinez, is deaf and attends the Region 4 Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) at HISD’s T.H. Rogers School.

Brandon has been at Rogers since the age of 3, growing and learning like any other student. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The school closed and went fully remote in March, and Gonzales worried that virtual school would be a challenge for her son and that he could fall behind, but Brandon exceeded all expectations.

“He was able to learn multiplication through virtual learning, and that was shocking to me because I thought he would be delayed but … it has been really great,” she said. “Actually, we’ve been learning with him, and learning the signs to assist him, which has been really good.”

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HISD teachers kick off classroom lessons virtually for 2020-2021 school year

Roberts Elementary School fourth-grade teacher LaTasha Owens’ first social studies lesson of the new school year included an educational video about the three branches of government, shared on Microsoft Teams.

Owens called on students to share their thoughts about what they were watching. The children appeared onscreen as they unmuted themselves. Each was accessing the class from a private residence, some of them wearing headphones and some of them sitting in large office chairs.

This example of leveraging technology to ensure her students learn without jeopardizing the health and safety of all involved was replicated across the district on Tuesday.

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HISD teachers to create lessons for HISD @ H.O.M.E. TV

HISD @ H.O.M.E. TV lessons will continue this fall, and teachers will be able to develop content to be broadcast across various platforms.

Starting on Aug. 10, area offices will distribute a survey to collect basic information from interested teachers, such as school, grade level, subject, and language. Teachers who complete the survey will receive a link to upload a 10-minute video lesson by Aug. 17. 

A committee will use a rubric to assess the submissions and select 25 teachers to submit a weekly lesson during the fall semester for the grade level band and subject of their application submission. Selected teachers will be announced on Aug. 21 and will receive a stipend.

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Sam Houston MSTC teacher named finalist for national award in Career and Technical Education

Sam Houston MSTC Plumbing and Pipes Trades teacher Raul Ortega has been named one of 50 finalists from across the nation for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

The award, which was started in 2017 by national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools founder Eric Smidt, recognizes outstanding instruction in skilled trades in U.S. public high schools.

Ortega, a licensed plumber, is entering his ninth year at Sam Houston MSTC. Ortega’s hands-on classroom includes bathroom and kitchen simulators where students learn to install fixtures and piping systems using curriculum from the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). Students enrolled in the program also perform basic plumbing repairs for homeowners in the Sam Houston MSTC community and learn directly from local employers who visit Ortega’s classroom regularly to hire graduating seniors. 

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Campus, district leaders share best practices at first-ever all virtual PLS 2020

Nearly 2,000 district and school-based employees gathered online for HISD’s first-ever all virtual Professional Learning Series (PLS), three days of professional development, team building, and preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

The theme of this year’s event, which took place June 15-17, was “Virtual Learning and Beyond: Bridging Gaps with Strong Systems.” A major focus of the series included preparing for a virtual school system, as well as management best practices and guidance for schools and teachers on how to support students engaged in online learning.

“We are embracing the virtual learning space across HISD, and PLS this summer is no exception,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said during the recorded general session. “It is our goal that our leaders rejuvenate, renew and reimagine the possibilities for the upcoming school year.”

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