Participating school districts and open-enrollment charter schools may nominate two teachers — one elementary and one secondary educator. In most cases, the elementary category consists of early childhood/pre-K through grade 5 teachers, and the secondary category is for teachers of grades 6-12. However, grade divisions and classroom arrangements may vary from district to district.
All district nominees automatically advance to regional competition, which is coordinated by each Regional Education Service Center. A panel of judges in each region, composed primarily of members of various teacher associations, meets to evaluate the written applications and selects a Regional Elementary and a Regional Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Regional judging takes place each June-July. When completed, regional coordinators email the regional winners’ original applications and photos to TASA’s program coordinator.
Forty regional winners (one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher for each Education Service Center) automatically become semifinalists in the Texas Teacher of the Year awards program.
State-level judging takes place at the TASA offices. Semifinalist judging occurs in August. Two panels of judges (one for the elementary category and another for the secondary category) composed primarily of members of teacher associations meet in Austin to review the 40 semifinalists’ applications and select three finalists for Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and three finalists for Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Finalists’ superintendents and Education Service Centers are then notified. TASA distributes a news release announcing the six finalists on the first day of school. School districts are encouraged to do the same.
The final judging occurs in October. The six finalists are invited to Austin to be interviewed by a panel of judges, which is typically composed of representatives of educational administrator associations, a member of the State Board for Education Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, and the most recent Texas Teachers of the Year. The panel chooses the two state winners and designates one to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program. The winners are announced at the Texas Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony in October.
The Texas Education Agency then submits Texas’ entry for the state’s nominee to the National Teacher of the Year program on behalf of the winner. The National Teacher of the Year program, conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C., will announce four finalists in January 2017.