October 4, 2013

Todd Marshall
Director of Communications,
Marketing and Development
903.794.3651 ext. 1013

School was a Place of Joy, Refuge for Texas Teacher of the Year

 Austin, TX – At a very young age, Monica Washington found joy, hope and refuge in school. Today, she was honored with the state’s top teaching award for providing her students with a passion for learning that extends beyond the schoolhouse doors.

Washington, who teaches AP and enriched English III at Texas High School in the Texarkana Independent School District, was named the 2014 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. She will represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

“This amazing teacher is an inspiration to us all and shines a light on the thousands of teachers who are dedicated to constantly improving their craft,” said Johnny Veselka, Executive Director of Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). “I congratulate Monica for positively impacting not only the lives of the students she teaches, but also her colleagues and community.”
In her Teacher of the Year application, Washington offered insight into her teaching background, philosophy and style.

“Accomplishments in education can never be considered accomplishments if they aren’t rooted in the success of others. What I think are my most significant contributions and accomplishments in education, however, are those things that will probably never make it to my resume. I feel accomplished when I help a student realize how talented and intelligent he is. When he recognizes his own power, I feel accomplished. I feel accomplished when I help a student realize that college is attainable and that it needs him there. I feel accomplished when I can inspire a colleague to be positive or creative or to just live to teach another day.”

In a speech to thousands of educators at a convention, Washington encouraged those teachers to go back to their districts and “pack some suitcases,” a metaphor for providing all necessary tools students need to become successful citizens. “Those tools could be tough love, extra tutoring, an ear, anything that the student needed. People walk each day carrying their suitcases filled to varying levels. My most significant accomplishment is dropping something useful into their suitcase. This is what those who persuaded me to pursue a different career didn’t realize: I am and always will be a suitcase packer.”

Washington has been in the field of education for 15 years and with the TISD Tiger Family since 2007. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from LeMoyne-Owen College and a Master’s degree in English from University of Memphis.

As the Texas Teacher of the Year, she will serve as a traveling ambassador for public education as she speaks for, motivates and exemplifies the contributions of the teaching profession. She will set her own schedule of speeches, workshops and presentations, while continuing as a classroom teacher.

The Texas Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by TASA, with financial support and in-kind contributions from the following:

Platinum Sponsors: TASA, K-12 Insight

Gold Sponsors: H-E-B, Reasoning Mind, Scholastic, SMART Technologies, TASA on iTunes U

Professional Association Sponsors: Association of Texas Professional Educators, Texas American Federation of Teachers, Texas Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, Texas Association of School Boards, Texas Association of School Business Officials, Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, Texas Retired Teachers Association, Texas School Public Relations Association, Texas State Teachers Association.

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