SMCISD Teachers of the Year
Each year, Texas recognizes and rewards excellence in the teaching profession through the Texas Teacher of the Year (TOY) program. The project honors excellence in classroom education and showcases outstanding educators whose efforts and examples inspire students, colleagues, and the community.
San Marcos CISD takes advantage of the annual recognition as a time to recognize local educators who are known for their commitment to students and their families.
The top nine teachers were chosen by their peers to represent their campuses, and they are: Elida Smith of Bowie Elementary, Connie Bagley of Crockett Elementary, Vicki Alford of De Zavala Elementary, Amanda Cochran of Hernandez Elementary, Elizabeth Smith of Mendez Elementary, Journeth First of Travis Elementary, James Pactanac of Goodnight Middle School Brian Cole of Miller Middle School and Jess Meyer of San Marcos High School.
Elida Smith, representing Bowie Elementary, has taught Bilingual Education for six years. She grew up in a home that valued education, and she was the first in her family to graduate from collegeand Cum Laude at that. She tries to build mutual bonds with students through respect and caring, saying, It helps students to believe in themselves and in their abilities to succeed.
Crockett Elementary Schools Connie Bagley is a veteran educator of 40 years. She was instrumental in starting the Dyslexia program of the District, and continues teaching as a Dyslexia Specialist. She says to teach is to touch a life forever, adding I teach children to read to learn it doesnt get any better than that.
Vicki Alford of De Zavala Elementary has won many awards and recognitions during her 18 years of teaching, including the 2010 Texas Association of Parents and Educators of the Deaf Educational Service Award. She uses new technologies and improvement workshops, saying, High expectations for our students should be complemented by high expectations for ourselves.
Hernandez Elementary Teacher of the Year is Amanda Cochran, a Pre-Kindergarten teacher of five years. She, too, advocates for the benefits of instructional technology and for the value of Early Childhood Education programs. She says, The extra year of learning and preparedness can make a monumental impact on a childs educational career.
Elizabeth Smith is a 16 year teaching veteran, and has been a Dyslexia Reading Teacher for grades 1-5 since 2009. The Mendez Elementary Teacher of the Year works at developing relationships of trust with her students and their families, believing that, When the students know that we care for them, and not just their grades, they will open up to what we say.
Journeth First of Travis Elementary came to the U.S. with her family from Peru 25 years ago. Not knowing English, she studied the language and enrolled in college, becoming a dedicated teacher who relates to the challenges of English Language Learners in all grades. Not in her fifth year teaching first grade at Travis, she reminds her students of her own mothers words: Dont use obstacles as excuses for failure; they will strengthen and prepare you for the next opportunities.
Goodnight Middle Schools James Pactanac teaches math at the 7th and 8th grade levels and coaches athletics. His mission is helping create responsible and knowledgeable citizens of our community. Therefore, lessons go beyond mathematics to those of character. His students graduate with the understanding that a quality education is key to a quality future.
Brian Cole of Miller Middle School is in his fifth year teaching 6th and 7th graders English Language Arts and World History. He says that teaching someone how to learn is more important than relaying information. Hes one of the first Goodnight teachers to arrive every morning, believing there is no better way to teach than by example.
San Marcos High Schools Jess Meyer has taught Social Studies for 12 years, and shes brought cultural experiences from around the world back to the local high school students. An example is her bringing Korean Secondary English School teachers to SMHS since 2008 to teach and observe an American class. She thinks persistence is the key to education, saying, We dont see the results over night, and they may not be felt for years. But you cant give up; eventually, it pays off.
The annual Teachers of the Year Awards Dinner, sponsored by Time Warner Cable, will be Thursday, May 2 at 6 pm in the San Marcos Activity Center.
Hosted by the San Marcos Education Foundation, the event will feature fine dining and music and special tributes especially the TWC Teachers of the Year video shown at the dinner.
The evening will end with the naming of the Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, as chosen by community selection committee. Those two will advance to the next level of the Texas competition. To reserve a place at the awards dinner, call Daniel Guerrero at 393-6930.
The mayor and city council will recognize the SMCISD Teachers of the Year on May 7 National Teachers Day at 4:30 in the council chambers at City Hall.