Tyler ISD named Beverly McRae as Elementary Teacher of the Year and Jennifer Sheffield as Secondary Teacher of the Year during its annual banquet on Tuesday at Harvey Convention Center.
Ms. McRae teaches Response to Intervention reading in kindergarten through fifth grade at Owens Elementary School. Ms. Sheffield teaches eighth-grade social studies and pre-advanced placement social studies at Moore MST Magnet School.
In accepting her award, Ms. McRae thanked the selection committee for what she called “this magnificent honor.”
Ms. McRae said, “I’m so proud to be a teacher. I have loved teaching my entire career and it’s really a tribute to the students who have given me love — and I have felt every moment of their love.”
Ms. Sheffield also thanked TISD and the selection committee, the teachers she works with at Moore and her family.
“I hope all the teachers out there, the new teachers coming in, that you act on your passion for teaching and you let all your students have a passion for learning,” she said.
They received several prizes, including a commemorative plaque, $500, a mini Ipad and case with accessories, a digital camera and a watch.
The announcement of the teachers of the year award recipients climaxed a program honoring nominees representing 27 individual school campuses within the district. The theme for the occasion was “what makes a great teacher.”
In opening remarks, David Stein, master of ceremonies, said the gathering was in celebration of teacher excellence as the crowd applauded.
Leslie Strader, of the organization Tyler Proud, told the gathering of educators that they represented the best and brightest in Tyler.
“We thank you. … You are our heroes and our great treasures,” she said.
Ms. Strader recalled that a teacher planted a seed in her life that led to her becoming a writer, saying the teacher inspired, gave hope, courage and direction. Teachers make an impression not only on students’ minds but on their hearts, she added.
District Superintendent Gary Mooring said it is hard to put a finger on what distinguishes a good, effective teacher and a great teacher.
He recalled his mother was a teacher for 37 years and at his high school 10-year reunion, a young man whom his mother taught in third grade from an economically disadvantaged area told him he would not be there if it had not been for her.
Teachers often don’t get the opportunity to hear how they affect students, Mooring said.
He listed a few tangible characteristics of a good, effective teacher: knowledge of content, prepared for every lesson, presents content in a clear and understandable way, maintains an orderly classroom, has a sense of humor, is willing to teach using different strategies and is fair and consistent in the treatment of all students.
What distinguishes a great teacher from a good teacher are intangible characteristics, Mooring said, such as being empathetic, kind, caring, loving and relationship oriented.
“Whether you’re a teacher or whether you’re an administrator, I think one of the most important ones is relationship oriented. … That you really develop a relationship with your students,” Mooring said
Some of the characteristics are hard to learn, so it’s something that’s built into great teachers to go the extra step, he said.
Things that make an effective teacher a great teacher are exhibiting the intangible characteristics and going above and beyond what is expected professionally, Mooring said.
Teachers who are great teachers are dedicated to the profession and are caring and loving, he said.
“I really feel like the biggest intangible and the biggest thing that separates a great teacher from a good, effective teacher is that teacher who gets involved with students and gets joy out of the success that they achieve,” Mooring said.
Impact on students and the success of students are what motivate great teachers, Mooring said.
Another speaker was retired Principal Wayne D. Boshears, for whom the Wayne D. Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs is named and who is now chairman of the board for Cooperative Teachers Credit Union, which sponsored the banquet.
Boshears recalled his years of teaching in Tyler ISD, starting at Douglas Elementary and later as administrator of St. Louis School.
Boshears congratulated individual campus winners, thanked them for doing their job well and told them they were being honored with the dinner.
“I hope that you always build up each individual to be everything that they can possibly be, regardless of their limitations,” Boshears said.
A video was shown featuring students talking about what makes a great teacher. Charity Kennebrew of John Tyler High School and Philip White of Robert E. Lee High each spoke about great teachers in introducing the video.
The selection process for teachers of the year consists of two phases — selection of a campus-level teacher of the year for each school and selection of the district-wide elementary and secondary teachers of the year.
A district selection committee grades each nominee on a submitted portfolio and an interview in picking the award recipients.
The John Tyler High School orchestra provided music for the banquet.