TASA Names 2016 Texas Teachers of the Year
10.16.2015 — TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Revathi Balakrishnan, a talented and gifted specialist in Round Rock ISD, as the 2016 Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Martha Saucedo, a family and consumer science teacher in Brady ISD, as the 2016 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Balakrishnan was chosen to represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The announcement was made at the Texas Teacher of the Year awards luncheon on Friday, October 16, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Both state-level winners will receive a cash award, a commemorative trophy, and other prizes.
Also honored during the luncheon were the Regional Teachers of the Year and the other finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year: Christina Dismuke, Katy ISD; Lori Vincenzo, Coppell ISD; Lynn Bodet, North East ISD; and John Gable, El Paso ISD.
“I congratulate Revathi and Martha on being selected for the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers,” said Johnny L. Veselka, executive director of TASA. “These outstanding educators understand that building positive relationships with their students fosters creativity, collaboration, communication skills, critical thinking, and a thirst for learning in their students. They work hard to create learner-centered environments that inspire students to reach their full potential.”
2016 Texas Teacher of the Year
“Creating a workforce that can adapt itself to ever-changing workplace conditions calls for innovative approaches, and teachers, administrators and government officials who are visionaries,” said Revathi Balakrishnan, the 2016 Texas Teacher of the Year and a talented and gifted (TAG) specialist at Patsy Sommer Elementary School in Round Rock ISD. “Every child is a unique individual, depending on all of us to provide them with a comprehensive education that will make them competitive in the global workplace. And we owe them nothing less.”
Balakrishnan, who has taught for 10 years, is a second-career educator, having first spent 12 years as a systems analyst. She said she hopes the recognition she has received as a campus, district, region, and now Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, will inspire others to join the teaching profession, which she has described as complex but satisfying.
“I hope that my rewarding experiences will convince people of underrepresented ethnicities to follow in my footsteps and enter this noble profession,” said Balakrishnan, who emigrated from India 30 years ago. “My own daughter did, saying, ‘I see you come home from work every day, excited for the new day to begin. I want the same for myself.’”
Balakrishnan is the founder of the Shakespeare Support Group for TAG teachers and the Round Rock ISD Shakespeare Festival, and she is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented (TAGT). In 2011, she was chosen the Region 13 TAGT Teacher of the Year.
2016 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year
Martha Saucedo, the 2016 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, credits her own teachers, along with life’s hardships, for pushing her to get where she is today.
“For me, the teachers who influenced my life, influenced who I became, what I believe, and how I teach also helped to develop the best part of my teaching philosophy today: Pay it forward,” she said. “My whole life people paid it forward to me, and I will do the same as a teacher. No needed stickers, stars, checkmarks or pats on the back. My rewards are walking in the halls of Brady High School, in colleges all around the United States, serving in our military, and creating families; my rewards are paying it forward every day.”
Saucedo has taught family consumer science at Brady High School in Brady ISD for the past seven years of her nine-year career in education.
“I have been blessed to find a job that I want to do every day,” Saucedo said. “My job is to inspire motivate, to be contagious in a good way.”
Texas Teacher of the Year Program
To achieve recognition as Texas Elementary or Secondary Teacher of the Year, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and district teacher of the year, then a regional honoree. From the group of 40 regional teachers of the year, six finalists are chosen and interviewed by an independent panel of judges composed of representatives of education 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 state’s top elementary and secondary teachers are selected from these six finalists, and the Texas nominee for National Teacher of the Year is chosen from the top two winners. 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.
The Texas Teacher of the Year program has honored excellence in classroom education since 1969 and continues to annually recognize and reward teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. The program operates with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following:
Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas Retired Teachers Association
Common Sense Education
TASA on iTunes U
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
Professional Association Sponsors
Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE)
Texas Association for Supervision & 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 Congress of Parents and Teachers (Texas PTA)
Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE)
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA)
Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA)