Texas Teacher of the Year
Since 1969, the Texas Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program has honored excellence in classroom education and provided a forum to showcase many outstanding educators whose efforts and example have inspired their students, their colleagues, and the communities they serve.
Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor that the State of Texas can bestow upon a teacher. Facilitated by TASA, the Texas Teacher of the Year Program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.
Texas Teacher of the Year Duties
The Texas Teachers of the Year serve as traveling ambassadors for public education as they speak for, motivate, and exemplify the contributions of the teaching profession. They, along with their school district's public information officer, set their own schedule of speeches, workshops, and presentations, while continuing as classroom teachers. The two Texas Teachers of the Year typically represent teachers across the state during the school year following their nomination.
State (2) and Regional Teachers of the Year (38) will:
- Attend the Teacher of the Year awards luncheon.
- Receive awards in recognition of their achievements.
- Travel the state and their regions to share their expertise with other teachers, community groups, businesses, government officials, and future teachers.
- Help identify and recruit teachers.
Additionally, the Texas Teacher of the Year (1) will:
- Attend all National Teacher of the Year program activities.
- Be recognized by the State Board of Education, the Texas Legislature, and the Texas Association for School Administrators.
- Serve on the Educator Leadership Council.
- Represent the program at various statewide recognition events for education.
- Receive additional technology or scholarship awards from program sponsors.
Regional Teachers of the Year
Every fall, 40 Regional Teachers of the Year are selected — one elementary and one secondary teacher from each of the 20 Education Service Center regions in Texas. Six finalists are then chosen from among the 40 semifinalists.
Texas Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year
Following an interview process, the Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year are chosen from among the six finalists. One is selected to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year program.
National Teacher of the Year
The national program is the oldest and most prestigious awards program designed to focus public attention on excellence in teaching. A selection committee representing the major national education associations selects the National Teacher of the Year from the nominees submitted by the 50 states.Every spring, the National Teacher of the Year is announced by the president during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House and is honored at special events in the nation’s capital. The National Teacher of the Year takes a year’s sabbatical from classroom instruction and serves as a roving ambassador for the teaching profession.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.
Selection ProcessLearn more about eligibility and the selection process.
The Texas Teacher of the Year program operates with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following:
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Raise Your Hand Texas
- Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
- Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
- Vanir Construction Management
- Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE)
- Texas AFT
- Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (Texas ASCD)
- 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 PTA
- Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA)
The state coordinator at TASA will provide guidance in helping promote participation at the grassroots level and execute a successful program. Regional coordinators also are available for technical support for the districts in their areas.
Please direct questions about these procedures and the program to Education Service Center program coordinator in your region, or to TASA:
Texas Teacher of the Year Coordinator
Texas Association of School Administrators
406 East 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
2019 Texas Teacher of the Year Jeff Wheatcraft
Jeff Wheatcraft was named the 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year in September 2018 and selected to represent Texas as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Wheatcraft teaches eighth-grade science at Alamo Heights Junior School in Alamo Heights ISD, where he has taught since 2012. Wheatcraft is also the 2018 recipient of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching and has twice been nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. Learn more.
2019 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year Rhonda Pena
Rhonda Peña, the 2019 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, teaches fifth-grade mathematics at Bryan Elementary in Mission CISD, where she has taught for the past 25 years of her 28-year career in education. She has been chosen as Bryan Elementary School Teacher of the Year twice: in 2018 and 2012, and as Mission CISD Teacher of the Year in 2018. In 2017, she received the prestigious H-E-B Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement Award. Learn more.