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TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, named Texas’ top teachers for 2020 at the Texas Teacher of the Year awards luncheon at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin October 25, 2019. Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy.

Karen Sams, a third-grade teacher from Weatherford ISD, is the 2020 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Michelle Sandoval, an eighth-grade math teacher from Ysleta ISD, is the 2020 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Sams was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Also honored during the luncheon were the Regional Teachers of the Year and the finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year: Juliette Broussard, Pasadena ISD; Kami Dodds, Brady ISD; Jennifer Garner, River Road ISD; and Perla Lozoya, Socorro ISD.

See photos from the awards ceremony.

“I congratulate Karen and Michelle on this achievement. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers,” said Kevin Brown, executive director of TASA. “They have distinguished themselves among thousands of outstanding, dedicated teachers across our state and nation have who have answered the call to serve others.”

2020 Texas Teacher of the Year

Karen Sams, David Crockett Elementary, Weatherford ISD

“Students learn best by being engaged and collaborating with others,” said Karen Sams, 2020 Texas Teacher of the Year. “One way that I connect with students and reach them on a more personal level is through humor. When teachers share a laugh or a smile with students, it helps them feel more comfortable and open to learning.”

In her 15-year career in education, Sams has taught first through third grades as well as K-5 music. She is passionate about public education and has committed her entire career to helping students in Title 1 schools. Sams currently teaches third grade at David Crockett Elementary in Weatherford ISD, where she serves on the Campus Improvement Team and the Restorative Practices Campus Behavior Team.

2020 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year

Michelle Sandoval, Parkland Middle School, Ysleta ISD

“Transparency is everything in education. When you are a real human in front of your students, you earn respect,” said Michelle Sandoval, 2020 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. “My only wish is that when I am transparent with them and show them that I too was from Northeast El Paso with a middle-class working family, that they too can be successful. I hope I can give them the key to their dreams with simple lessons on the fundamentals of money.”

Sandoval has taught eighth-grade math at Parkland Middle School for the past year of her 10-year teaching career. She serves as the Student Council sponsor and volleyball coach on her campus. Sandoval is proud to be teaching at her alma mater and to be from the El Paso community.

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:


Diamond Sponsors

  • Edgenuity
  • H-E-B
  • Raise Your Hand Texas
  • TASA

Platinum Sponsors

  • Google for Education
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)

Gold Sponsors

  • AXA Advisors
  • Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
  • Vanir Construction Management

Silver Sponsors

  • Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE)
  • Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO)
  • Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA)
  • Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP)
  • Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA)
  • Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA)
  • Texas PTA
  • Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA)