TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Texas’ top teachers for 2022.
Jennifer Han, a fourth-grade teacher from McAllen ISD, is the 2022 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. Ramon Benavides, a biology teacher from Ysleta ISD, is the 2022 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Benavides was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition, making his official title Texas Teacher of the Year.
The announcements were made during surprise visits to the teachers’ campuses by TASA representatives on October 22. (See photos and don’t miss the video!) Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy. They will be honored, along with the other 38 Texas Regional Teachers of the Year (semifinalists for the state-level award), at a special event in Austin during the TASA Midwinter Conference January 30-February 2.
Benavides and Han were selected from a pool of six finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year that also included: Bonnie Anderson, Judson ISD; Sanford Jeames, Austin, ISD; Miguel Mendez, Northside ISD; and Ashley Phelps, Tyler ISD.
“I congratulate Ramon and Jennifer 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.”
2022 Texas Teacher of the Year
Ramon Benavides, Del Valle High School, Ysleta ISD
“My belief is that for education to transcend beyond our classrooms, one must create genuine relationships with their students,” said Benavides. “Establishing genuine relationships requires patience, trust, and some ingenuity. To accomplish this, I allow my students to see a bit of themselves in me and I in them. … My humble upbringing allows me to share my lived experiences like growing up along the border, speaking two languages, not having sufficient economic resources, and stories, especially my failures and successes.
“When my students leave my classroom at the end of the year, they know never to be satisfied with what they can do for themselves and others. They understand that through the journey in life, one must take advantage of the opportunities that will enrich their lives beyond textbooks. These students comprehend that all lived experiences, whether success or failure, are milestones in who they will become. … All I want is for my students to see the ‘bigger picture’ of what they learn in the classroom and ‘connect the dots.’ Education is the great equalizer that most definitely transcends through everything they do in life.”
2022 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year
Jennifer Han, Juan Seguin Elementary School, McAllen ISD
“My desire as an educator is that my kids become people of good character,” said Han. “When they leave my classroom, they walk out with more than book knowledge. They also walk out with pride, good work ethic, integrity, empathy, and sound emotional intelligence. I empower them to use their minds and voices in mighty ways. Our kids will remember us with respect and affection as we remember the people who have inspired and helped us become who we are today.
“We have the most influential job in the world. Our classrooms are homes for inventors, engineers, chefs, and world leaders. We have the power to fan little sparks into huge flames that light up a whole community. We hold up megaphones to little voices so they resonate in all corners of the world.”
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:
Raise Your Hand Texas
Google for Education
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union
Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.
Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
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 State Teachers Association (TSTA)