Educators must be nominated by the accredited public school in which they were employed full time during the school year in which they were nominated.While the program traditionally recognizes classroom teachers, school librarians and counselors who teach students at least four hours per day may be nominated for regional, state, and national honors. Administrators are not eligible. Candidates who, prior to the selection of the state finalists, accept non-teaching positions (such as in administration or outside a school or district) or in which they teach students for less than four hours each day are not eligible to advance in the state competition.Additional criteria, provided by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which sponsors the national program, are used for both the state and national programs and say that candidates have the respect and admiration of their colleagues and they:
- are experts in their field who guide students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence
- collaborate with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success
- deliberately connect the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large
- demonstrate leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning
- express themselves in an engaging and articulate way
District-Level Selection Process
Participating school districts and open-enrollment charter school operators/districts may nominate two teachers — one elementary and one secondary educator. In most cases, the elementary category consists of early childhood/pre-K through grade 5 teachers, and the secondary category is for teachers of grades 6-12. However, grade divisions and classroom arrangements may vary from district to district.In general, elementary teachers will instruct the same class throughout the day in what is regarded as a traditional grade-school setting; secondary teachers will conduct classes in subject areas in a class-period or block-time schedule to different groups of students during the school day. Any questions regarding the categories should be referred to TASA.Districts and charters may establish their own processes for selecting Teacher of the Year nominees. See Suggestions for Conducting the Teacher of the Year Contest. However, please note that to be considered for regional and state recognition, candidates must:
- be nominated by the superintendent of their district, or the district in which they taught during the school year in which they're nominated
- provide all information requested by the state application packet and answer all questions (however, districts may use their own applications or submitted materials in making their own selections)
- meet all deadlines and follow all guidelines
Important Note for Charter Schools
All applications from classroom teachers located on charter campuses should be submitted to the appropriate charter operator/district, and that operator should select one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher for submission to the regional competition. Since some charter operators (charter districts) are located in one ESC region, but operate charter school campuses in other regions, the charter operator/district should submit the selected application to the regional ESC in which the teacher's school is located. This application will be considered along with all other applications within that region. As such, a charter operator may be submitting an elementary teacher's application to one region and a secondary teacher's application to another region for consideration.
Region-Level Selection Process
All district/charter operator nominees automatically advance to regional competition, which is coordinated by each Regional Education Service Center. A panel of judges in each region, composed primarily of members of various teacher associations, meets to evaluate the written applications and selects a Regional Elementary and a Regional Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Regional judging takes place each June-July. When completed, regional coordinators email the regional winners’ original applications and photos to TASA’s program coordinator.
Forty regional winners (one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher for each Education Service Center) automatically become semifinalists in the Texas Teacher of the Year awards program.
State-Level Selection Process
State-level judging takes place at the TASA offices. Semifinalist judging occurs in August. Two panels of judges (one for the elementary category and another for the secondary category) composed primarily of members of teacher associations meet in Austin to review the 40 semifinalists’ applications and select three finalists for Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and three finalists for Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Finalists’ superintendents and Education Service Centers are then notified. TASA distributes a news release announcing the six finalists on the first day of school. School districts are encouraged to do the same.
The final judging occurs in September. The six finalists are invited to Austin to be interviewed by a panel of judges, which is typically composed of representatives of educational administrator associations, a member of the State Board for Education Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, and the most recent Texas Teachers of the Year. The panel chooses the two state winners and designates one to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program. The winners are announced at the Texas Teacher of the Year Awards Ceremony in September.
The Texas Education Agency then submits Texas’ entry for the state’s nominee to the National Teacher of the Year program on behalf of the winner. The National Teacher of the Year program, conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C., will announce four finalists in January.
ContactJennifer Garrido, Texas Teacher of the Year Coordinator, 512.852.2105