TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Allison Ashley, a bilingual education teacher from Austin ISD, the 2017 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Deborah Campbell, a speech and credit recovery program teacher from San Angelo ISD, the 2017 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Ashley was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The announcement was made at the Texas Teacher of the Year awards luncheon on Friday, October 14, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy.
Also honored during the luncheon were the Regional Teachers of the Year and the finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year: Julie Garza, Edinburg CISD; LaGay Pittenger, Belton ISD; Calvin Lambert, Uvalde CISD; and Sarah Macha, New Caney ISD.
“I congratulate Allison and Deborah on this achievement. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers,” said Johnny L. Veselka, executive director of TASA. “These outstanding educators work hard to create learner-centered environments that inspire students to reach their full potential. They also understand that building positive relationships with their students is the very foundation of teaching.”
2017 Texas Teacher of the Year
Allison Ashley, Becker Elementary, Austin ISD
“One of the most powerful things educators can do is model for students a love of learning, an eagerness for and appreciation of feedback, a transparent sharing of goals, and the vulnerability to fail and try again,” said Allison Ashley, 2017 Texas Teacher of the Year, who holds a master’s degree in language and literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“When a commitment to learning and growth mindset are explicitly modeled and taught for students in authentic ways, it contributes to a class environment where students are more willing to take risks, fail, revisit and revise work, and strive for continuous improvement.”
The 2016-17 school year is Ashley’s seventh year teaching bilingual education in Austin ISD, where she has taught at both Perez and Becker elementary schools. Ashley began her teaching career in the Rio Grande Valley, teaching in the Brownsville and Edinburg school districts.
She has implemented Academic Parent Teacher Teams and served on her campus advisory council as well as the Austin ISD District Advisory Council. In 2015-16, she was an Aspiring School Leaders Fellow for Teach for America and served as a National Teacher Fellow for the Hope Street Group, working on a project related to teacher preparation programs in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. A National Board Certified Teacher, Ashley mentors National Board Certification candidates in Teach for America and Austin ISD cohort programs. She received the Leadership in Education Award from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2011.
See Ashley’s Teacher of the Year video, produced by Austin ISD.
2017 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year
Deborah Campbell, San Angelo Central High School, San Angelo ISD
“I do my best to encourage students to step outside preconceived expectations and the misguided skepticisms of others — even loved ones — to get in touch with finding more than a dream. I challenge them to find a destiny,” said Deborah Campbell, 2017 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, who teaches speech and serves as the San Angelo Central High School Credit Recovery program coordinator and lead teacher.
“Almost daily, you will find me asking students, ‘WHY do you need this diploma? What were you meant to do? How will you use the diploma to get there?’ If they know the ‘why,’ they will come to school, they will fight through the hardships, and they will value the necessity of their education as a means to a successful end,” she said. “Knowing they will take it further is what drives me to be persistent and persevere.”
Campbell is a 20-year veteran educator who has taught in San Angelo ISD her entire career. She holds a master’s degree in communication systems management from Angelo State University, and serves as a rotating communications post-secondary instructor for Park University. She served on a State Board for Educator Certification committee that developed a new exit exam for teacher candidates as well as on a Texas Education Agency committee that wrote the standards for teaching speech in Texas.
See Campbell’s Teacher of the Year video, produced by San Angelo ISD.
Texas Teacher of the Year Program
To achieve recognition as Texas Elementary or Secondary Teacher of the Year, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and district teacher of the year, then a regional honoree. From the group of 40 regional teachers of the year, six finalists are chosen and interviewed by an independent panel of judges composed of representatives of education associations, community and business leaders, a member of the State Board for Educator Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, and prior Texas Teachers of the Year.
The state’s top elementary and secondary teachers are selected from these six finalists, and the Texas nominee for National Teacher of the Year is chosen from the top two winners. In 2015, Texas Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples of Amarillo ISD was the second Texas teacher to be named the National Teacher of the Year.
The Texas Teacher of the Year program has honored excellence in classroom education since 1969 and continues to annually recognize and reward teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. The program operates with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following:
Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas Retired Teachers Association
Texas Association of School Boards
Texas School Public Relations Association
Professional Association Sponsors
Association of Texas Professional Educators
Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Texas Association of School Business Officials
Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators
Texas Association of Secondary School Principals
Texas Classroom Teachers Association
Texas Council of Women School Executives
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association
Texas State Teachers Association