For the second year in a row and the seventh time in the past ten years, a Mission Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) teacher has been named a Teacher of the Year by the Region One Education Service Center (ESC). During a special banquet honoring 49 teachers of the year from throughout the Region One area, officials announced Rhonda Peña as this year’s Region One Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Peña is currently a math teacher at Bryan Elementary School and has been teaching for 28 years and has been in her current position at Bryan Elementary School for 25 of those years. During those years, Peña has not only been making a difference in the lives of her students, but she has quietly been earning recognitions along the way. She was a recipient of the H.E.B. Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement Award Winner (2017), Farmers Insurance Thank America’s Teachers Grant (2017), and was also selected as Bryan Elementary Teacher of the Year twice (2018 and 2012).
Peña will now represent all of Region One in the Texas Teacher of the Year competition. Each of the state’s 20 regional education service centers submit their regional elementary and secondary teachers of the year for the Texas Teacher of the Year award. Semi-finalist judging will take place at the Texas Association of School Administrators headquarters in Austin, Texas to determine the six Texas Teacher of the Year finalists. The Texas Elementary and Texas Secondary Teachers of the Year will be announced in September, at the Texas Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony in Austin, Texas.
The quality of Mission CISD teachers and their applications have caught the eye of the Region One Teacher of the Year judges many times over the years. 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; Iris Hines, Roosevelt Alternative School, 2008. Hines also was a state finalist for the Texas Teacher of the Year award.
Teacher of the Year nominees submitted an application consisting of essay questions asking nominees to describe a lesson or unit that defines them as a teacher, describe a project or initiative that has contributed to the improvement of overall school culture, an explanation of how they ensure that education transcends the classroom, what they consider to be a major public education issue, and finally, as a spokesperson for the profession what their message would be to teachers, students and to the public. For the Region One award, a committee comprised of representatives from various teacher and administrator groups evaluated the essay applications.