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TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Texas’ top teachers for 2021.

Eric Hale, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher from Dallas ISD, is the 2021 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Anthony Lopez-Waste, a history teacher from Canutillo ISD, is the 2021 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Eric Hale was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The announcement was made during the virtual TASA|TASB Convention (see video of the presentation). Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy.

Also honored during the awards presentation were the Regional Teachers of the Year and the finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year: Alexis Miller, Lewisville ISD; Lisa Barry, Alamo Heights ISD; Ida Cisneros, Frenship ISD; and Adriana Abundis, San Antonio ISD.

“I congratulate Eric and Anthony 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.”

2021 Texas Teacher of the Year

Eric Hale, David G. Burnet Elementary School, Dallas ISD

“My students and parents have survived a category F-3 tornado and are presently living in a pandemic. It is essential that I make sure they know I am here for them and value their educational development,” said Hale, who teaches kindergarten and first grade at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas ISD.

“So, my 2020-2021 school year started April 17, the moment Gov. Abbott closed schools [to in-person instruction] for the remainder of the academic year. I have learned that regardless of this pandemic, whether in a classroom or not, I can find innovative ways to deliver learning resources to my students in pursuit of continued greatness.”

2021 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year

Anthony Lopez-Waste, Canutillo High School, Canutillo ISD

“As a history teacher, I have the opportunity to open the eyes of my students to a world that most of them have never seen. My message to the kids each year is to dream big. Get out and see just how wonderful our world truly is,” said Lopez-Waste, who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years prior to becoming a teacher.

“I refer quite a bit to my own experiences. Many of the experiences that I am able to use as examples come from my military experience and from the fact that the Army gave me the opportunity to travel the world. The kids are always interested in my perspective, especially when they realize that I’ve been to most of the places we are covering. I think it excites them to know that their history teacher can actually tell them about places because I’ve been there, not because it’s in a book.”

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
  • Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)

Gold Sponsors

  • ClassLink
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)

Silver Sponsors

  • Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE)
  • Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO)
  • Texas AFT
  • 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)