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TASA has announced that six outstanding educators from across Texas have been chosen as finalists in the 2023 Texas Teacher of the Year program.

Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year Finalists

Lisa Mackey, Fox Elementary School, Klein ISD
Lisa Mackey is an art teacher at Klein ISD’s Fox Elementary School, where she has taught since it opened in 2020. There she volunteers as a Destination Imagination coach and has traveled to global competitions many times, making Klein ISD history by placing first in the world. Mackey is also an advocate for advanced academics as a Gifted and Talented coordinator, working alongside students to help them thrive in problem-solving and self-driven learning. Prior to being named both Fox Elementary and Klein ISD Teacher of the Year in 2022, she was honored in 2015 and in 2020 as Metzler Elementary Teacher of the Year. At Metzler, an internationally recognized Visible Learning campus, Mackey served as a classroom teacher before transitioning to teaching art. “As an art teacher, I have a unique opportunity to pull out creativity in every way possible,” she said. “However, having been a classroom teacher before transitioning to art has made me appreciate and integrate cross-curricular activities into many of my lessons.” Mackey began her career in 2010 as a teacher alongside some of her former teachers at Fort Bend ISD’s Meadows Elementary, which she attended as a child. She earned her BA in Education from Texas State University in 2009, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Shelley Jeoffroy, Otis Brown Elementary, Irving ISD
Shelley Jeoffroy is a fifth-grade math teacher at Otis Brown Elementary in Irving ISD. Her career in education spans 17 years, with the past 15 years in Irving. Over the years, she has taught all subjects, but primarily math and science. She also has made educational contributions globally, serving students in Kenya, Peru, Mexico, and Morocco. “Having witnessed the possibilities while working with very economically challenged students in a variety of countries, I have advocated for more innovative opportunities for students in my American classrooms,” she said. “I pushed for lessons as a district curriculum writer that allowed for not simply the presentation and confirmation of knowledge, but that afforded scholars the chance to be inventive with their new learning and skills. … At first, my American students were somewhat resistant as this wasn’t their normal educational experience. However, with time, their confidence grew, and they flourished. They would approach any new knowledge with a sense of assurance and bravery, and innovativeness became second nature. … Students were much more engaged and invested because they were now the actual pilots not just the passengers.” Jeoffroy holds a BA in English and biology from The University of Texas in Arlington, where she also attended graduate school.

Kari Johnston, Perez Elementary School, Austin ISD
Kari Johnston is a fifth-grade bilingual teacher at Perez Elementary in Austin ISD, where she has served since the beginning of her five-year career in education. She holds several leadership positions on her campus, including Head of Professional Learning Communities to support vertical collaboration across grade levels. She is also the Science Lead for training and writing campus-wide curriculum and the Student Leadership Pathway Lead. Johnston says that she believes her role as a bilingual educator is to teach essential objectives while sustaining the culture and language of her students. Her classroom is filled with culturally responsive English and Spanish literature, and her student-led bilingual writing lessons give students the ability to ideate without limitations. She teaches critical thinkers who know that, without appreciating every perspective, their learning is incomplete. A phrase that has become familiar to her classroom, she says, is, “We can do hard things.” Johnston holds a BS in Applied Learning and Development with a major in bilingual education from The University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in bilingual/bicultural education.

Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalists

Chris McLeod, Brazoswood High School, Brazosport ISD
Chris McLeod teaches 10th-12th grade rocket engineering at Brazoswood High School in Brazosport ISD (Clute, Texas). During his 11-year career in education, he has taught physics, chemistry, engineering, and a host of other science courses as well as student council and teen leadership. McLeod’s classroom is a place of collaboration and “organized chaos” as groups dive into research, design, and fabrication, with teams routinely meeting with local industrial and manufacturing businesses as they develop their rockets. His students have hosted design reviews with professionals from Blue Origin, SpaceX, NASA, Dow, BASF, and many other companies. His teams have consistently earned praise on their research and design of high-power hybrid rockets and are often in communication with university rocketry teams. “One of the highlights of my year is taking students to NASA for design reviews,” McLeod said. “Students have spent months coding computer models to predict the dynamic behavior of a rocket. However, they still have a hurdle to cross before building anything — a full-fledged review with an engineering panel at the Johnson Space Center. In this moment, those students must prove their work to the professionals. No classroom, no lecture, no teacher help — it is student and engineer, discussing, planning, and proving their system with people currently working to send astronauts back to the moon. How cool is that?” McLeod earned his BS in Marine Science from Texas A&M University. He currently serves on a safety review board for the Spaceport America Cup — an international university rocket competition.

Andrea Larson, McNeil High School, Round Rock ISD
Andrea Larson teaches multilingual learners at Round Rock ISD’s McNeil High School, where she has taught since 2002. She works to provide all learners with equitable access to high-quality educational experiences that value their diverse backgrounds and academic experiences by designing curriculum and instructional materials to meet the needs of multilingual learners. She also shares best practices with new teachers by serving as a teacher mentor/coach and presenting theory and methodology to student teachers in the UTEACH Liberal Arts program. “Students have so much to share, and we all have so much to learn about how much better our lives can be when we celebrate individual differences as well as the beauty of the whole,” Larson said. “I hope that students see the value of the culture, experiences, beliefs, interests, and stories they bring to the classroom and to the world, and I hope that they see the ways in which they are connected to one another and to the community at large. Our differences should not keep us apart from one another, nor do students have to learn to blend in to belong. When we bring our whole selves, not just the pretty parts, but our trials as well as our triumphs, we are truly able to contribute something valuable to our society.” Larson holds a BA in Spanish and Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in English for Speakers of Other Languages from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

Tricia Shay, Borger High School, Borger ISD
Tricia Shay is an English I teacher at Borger High School in Borger ISD, where she has taught for 12 years. Teaching was a second career for Shay. After college, she worked as a reporter for the Borger News-Herald, covering Borger ISD’s board meetings. Eventually, she became the official correspondent for the district, giving her an inside look at the campuses and classrooms. During this time, Shay began supplementing her salary by becoming a substitute teacher. Being a part of the process, seeing firsthand the “aha” moments when students are exposed to something new, or they suddenly understand something that seemed out of reach just moments before, was addicting, she says. As a result, Shay enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program at West Texas A&M University. Now, as a language arts teacher, she brings her real-world experience into the classroom. “Our goal as teachers is to really see our kids (and they ARE our kids), to encourage them and to be a steppingstone toward their final destination, whatever and wherever that might be,” Shay said. “To me, the instruction stuff is secondary. I’m not dismissing the importance of lessons and discipline. But it has been my experience that many students need a reason to try, a reason to show up to school, and that reason might just be you.” Shay holds an associate degree in English from Frank Phillips College and a BA in English from West Texas A&M. She has certifications for Secondary English (6-12) and Core Subjects (EC-6) as well as Supplemental certification for English as a Second Language.

“Texas teachers perform miracles every day as they inspire children even in the most challenging of times,” said Kevin Brown, executive director of TASA, which has coordinated the Texas Teacher of the Year program since 2011. “Public school teachers are critical to the success of individual children and our society as a whole. Those who choose to teach are national heroes, and these six finalists are the best among them. They have distinguished themselves among thousands of outstanding, dedicated teachers across our nation have who have answered the call to serve.”

On August 15, a panel of judges composed of representatives of Texas teacher associations and last year’s Texas Teacher of the Year finalists selected the finalists from the 40 Texas Regional Teachers of the Year — one elementary and one secondary teacher from each of the 20 Texas Education Service Center regions.


2023 Texas Regional Teachers of the Year

Region 1 Region 2
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Maria Mascorro-Domingues, Marcell Elementary School, Mission CISD Amy Marquez, PSJA Collegiate High School Program, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Elizabeth Sanchez, Odem Elementary School, Odem-Edroy ISD Jesse Marinelarena, Odem High School, Odem-Edroy ISD


Region 3 Region 4
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Jessica Garza, Smith STEM Academy, Victoria ISD Valton Acree, Yorktown Secondary High School, Yorktown ISD Lisa Mackey, Fox Elementary School, Klein ISD (finalist) Chris McLeod, Brazoswood High School, Brazosport ISD (finalist)


Region 5 Region 6
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Sherri Alderman, Fred Elementary School, Warren ISD Hannah Landry, Bridge City High School, Bridge City ISD Mary Blanco, Bens Branch Elementary School, New Caney ISD Angela Floyd, Snook Secondary School, Snook ISD


Region 7 Region 8
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Pydi Oliver, Velma Penny Elementary School, Lindale ISD Catherine Jackson, Carthage High School, Carthage ISD Courtney Beck, Redwater Elementary School, Redwater ISD Tanya Terry, Redwater High School, Redwater ISD


Region 9 Region 10
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Koby Andrews, Woodland Elementary School, Graham ISD Courtney Dobbs, Graham High School, Graham ISD Shelley Jeoffroy, Otis Brown Elementary School, Irving ISD (finalist) Lori Harlin, Celina High School, Celina ISD


Region 11 Region 12
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Nora Moreno, Thomas Edison Elementary School, Gainesville ISD Priscilla Lumbreras, Granbury High School, Granbury ISD Lorenz Villa, La Vega Intermediate School – H.P. Miles Campus, La Vega ISD Anthony Meurer, West High School, West ISD


Region 13 Region 14
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Kari Johnston, Perez Elementary School, Austin ISD (finalist) Andrea Larson, McNeil High School, Round Rock ISD (finalist) Teresa Graham, Taylor Elementary School, Abilene ISD Ryan Cosby, Colorado Middle School, Colorado ISD


Region 15 Region 16
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Patricia Villarreal, Lamar Elementary, San Felipe Del Rio CISD Sarah Willis, San Angelo Central High School, San Angelo Central ISD Tiffany Ryals, Humphrey’s Highland Elementary School, Amarillo ISD Tricia Shay, Borger High School, Borger ISD (finalist)


Region 17 Region 18
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Jennie Zabriskie, Lubbock-Cooper East Elementary School, Lubbock-Cooper ISD Brittany Wright, Lubbock-Cooper High School , Lubbock-Cooper ISD Marle Reynolds, Kermit Elementary School, Kermit ISD Amanda Byars, Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Midland, Midland ISD


Region 19 Region 20
Elementary Secondary Elementary Secondary
Joselyn Zuniga, Lorenzo G. Alarcon Elementary School, San Elizario ISD Hector Juarez, Canutillo STEAM Academy, Canutillo ISD Roger Lawson, Oak Crest Elementary School, East Central ISD Terri Garatoni, Robert G. Cole Middle/High School, Fort Sam Houston ISD


The six finalists will be interviewed October 20 by a panel of judges composed of representatives of educational leadership 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 panel will select two state-level winners — Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year — and designate one to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony October 21 Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in Round Rock, Texas, where the 40 Regional Teachers of the Year will also be recognized.

The Texas Teacher of the Year program has honored excellence in classroom education since 1969. The program, facilitated by TASA since 2011, annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. In 2015, Texas Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples of Amarillo ISD became the second Texas teacher to be named the National Teacher of the Year.

The Texas Teacher of the Year program operates with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following:

  • Premier Sponsors: H-E-B, Imagine Learning, and TASA
  • Platinum Sponsors: Raise Your Hand Texas and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
  • Gold Sponsors: Amplify, Capturing Kids’ Hearts, Centric Learning, ClassLink, and Texas AFT
  • Silver Sponsors: Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), Texas ASCD, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP), Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA), Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), Texas PTA, Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA), and the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA)