Washington, who teaches 11th grade English at Texas High School in Texarkana ISD, was named the 2014 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Washington also represented Texas in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Howard, a third-grade bilingual teacher at C.D. Landolt Elementary School in Clear Creek ISD, was named the 2014 Elementary Teacher of the Year.
In addition to the state's top two educators, the 34 Regional Teachers of the Year, along with the other four state finalists – Connie Bagley, San Marcos CISD; Julie Woodard, Rockwall ISD; Carlos Briano, Socorro ISD; and Christian DeBerry, Northside ISD – were also honored.
"These amazing teachers are an inspiration to us all and shine a light on the thousands of teachers who are dedicated to constantly improving their craft," said Johnny Veselka, Executive Director of TASA. "I congratulate Monica and Jillian for positively impacting not only the lives of the students they teach, but also their colleagues and communities."
In their Teacher of the Year applications, each educator offered insight into their teaching backgrounds, philosophy and style.
A high school English language arts teacher in Texarkana ISD, Washington writes: "Accomplishments in education can never be considered accomplishments if they aren't rooted in the success of others. What I think are my most significant contributions and accomplishments in education, however, are those things that will probably never make it to my resume. I feel accomplished when I help a student realize how talented and intelligent he is. When he recognizes his own power, I feel accomplished. I feel accomplished when I help a student realize that college is attainable and that it needs him there. I feel accomplished when I can inspire a colleague to be positive or creative or to just live to teach another day."
An elementary bilingual teacher at Clear Creek ISD, Howard writes: "Growing up, school was my only refuge. As the daughter of a 14-year-old single mom, I was forced to become an adult at a very early age. And right when I was ready to give up on life, Mrs. Coleman encouraged me, insisting I was too gifted to quit. She was a mother to me when my own mother could not be."