Texas Teacher of the Year
Honoring Excellence in the Classroom
Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor that the State of Texas can bestow upon a teacher. The official State of Texas program, facilitated by TASA since 2011, annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.
Eligibility & Selection Process
The journey to Texas (and National) Teacher of the Year begins at the local level.
Texas school districts/charter school operators conduct their own local selection processes to choose their District Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. Classroom teachers, school librarians, and counselors who teach students at least four hours per day are eligible; administrators are not.
Each official District Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year is eligible to advance to the regional/state levels. To do so, they must complete the online Texas Teacher of the Year application by the June deadline. The regional selection process is then conducted in June-July by the 20 Texas Regional Education Service Centers; each names a Regional Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year.
The 40 Regional Teachers of the Year are considered for Texas Teacher of the Year in a selection process facilitated by TASA. (If a Regional Teacher of the Year accepts a non-teaching position [in administration or outside a school or district] or moves to a position in which they teach students for less than four hours each day, they will not be eligible to advance in the state competition.)
Judges meet in August each year to narrow the pool of 40 Regional Teachers of the Year to six finalists — three elementary and three secondary — based on the information provided in the Texas Teacher of the Year application. In September/October, the finalists are interviewed by a panel of judges who select the Texas Elementary and Texas Secondary Teachers of the Year.
When selecting the Texas Elementary and Texas Secondary Teachers of the Year, the judges designate one to serve as the official “Texas Teacher of the Year” — Texas’ nominee for National Teacher of the Year, a program conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
In January, a selection committee representing the major national education associations selects four finalists for National Teacher of the Year from the nominees submitted by the 50 states.
National Teacher of the Year candidates must have the respect and admiration of their colleagues and:
- is an expert in their field who advances growth for students of all backgrounds and abilities
- builds collaborative relationships with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of equity and success
- deliberately connects the classroom to community to impact student growth and learning
- as lifelong learners and teacher leaders, they utilize innovation to create learning experiences within and beyond the classroom
- express themselves in an engaging and clear way, conveying the lived classroom experience to a variety of audiences
The National Teacher of the Year is announced in the spring by the president during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House and is honored at special events in the nation’s capital. The National Teacher of the Year takes a year’s sabbatical from classroom instruction and serves as a roving ambassador for the teaching profession.
TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Texas’ top teachers for 2024. Taniece Thompson-Smith, a fifth-grade science teacher at Abilene ISD’s Stafford Elementary, was named the 2024 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. Naveen Cunha,...
Texas Teacher of the Year Program Sponsors
The Texas Teacher of the Year program operates with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following sponsors.
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Texas Teacher of the Year Program