Rhonda Peña, a fifth-grade math teacher at Bryan Elementary School in Mission Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) has been named one of six finalists for 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year. District officials received word of the honor from the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), which facilitates the awards program.
Mission CISD superintendent, Dr. Carol G. Perez surprised Peña with the news this afternoon by dropping in on her while she was working on setting up her classroom for the start of school.
“If I were chosen as the 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year, my message to other educators and the public would be, “Building Relationships Will Build Respect and Success,” said Peña. “Our students are our future. They deserve to have every ounce of our efforts to help guide them toward a productive life. By building a relationship with each of our students, we are also building the respect that they will have for us, for each other, and for themselves, and we are setting the path towards a successful life.”
Peña has taught at Bryan Elementary School for the past 25 years of her 28-year career in education. She has been chosen as Bryan Elementary Teacher of the Year twice: 2018 and 2012. In 2017, she received the prestigious H-E-B Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement Award.
As Region One Elementary Teacher of the Year this year, Peña was among 40 outstanding Texas educators eligible for consideration for Texas Teacher of the Year. Earlier this month a panel of judges composed of representatives of Texas teacher associations and the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year finalists chose her and five other Regional Teachers of the Year-three elementary and three secondary- as state finalists. The other five will be announced by their respective districts this month and officially by TASA on August 20.
In September, Peña and the other finalists will be invited to Austin for interviews before 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 on September 14 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.
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. Learn more at www.tasanet.org/texasTOY.
The quality of Mission CISD teachers and their applications have caught the eye of the state judges and Region One judges several times over the years. In 2008 Iris Hines, who worked at Roosevelt Alternative School was a state finalist. Previous Region One Teachers of the Year from Mission CISD have included: Julia Otken, Mims Elementary School, 2017; Jesus Razo, Mission Jr. High School, 2014; Rosbel Pena, Alton Memorial Jr. High School, 2013; Yvette Nevarez, Alton Memorial Jr. High School, 2012; Dolores Reyna, Alton Elementary School, 2010.
TASA is the professional association for Texas school administrators, providing professional learning and networking opportunities, legislative advocacy, and targeted communications to support the work of superintendents and other school leaders. TASA’s mission is to promote, provide and develop leaders who create and sustain student-centered schools and develop future-ready students.
Pictured is Peña with superintendent, Dr. Carol G. Perez after being surprised while setting up her classroom. Also pictured is Peña after receiving her award as Region One Elementary Teacher of the Year.