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UHV alumni receive awards from Victoria school district

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Amanda Beck Amanda Beck

When Amanda Beck first started her student teaching in a pre-K class, she felt overwhelmed and reached out to her University of Houston-Victoria professor for support.

“I kept telling her, ‘I can’t do this,’ but she just kept saying, ‘Yes, you can,’” said Beck, a UHV alumna and fourth-grade teacher. “That opportunity to experience a real classroom and find a way to succeed while working with difficult students has made such a difference in my teaching now.”

Now, six years after that experience, Beck is the Teacher of the Year for Crain Elementary School in the Victoria Independent School District. Every year, each of the 27 schools in the district names a Teacher of the Year. This year, 15 of those award-winning teachers are UHV alumni.

Robert Jaklich

“We are extremely grateful for the outstanding partnership that currently exists between the VISD and the University of Houston-Victoria education school,” VISD Superintendent Robert Jaklich said. “In reviewing the number of VISD teachers selected as our Teachers of the Year who also are UHV alumni, it is truly a testament to the quality of the university’s education program. These outstanding individuals were able to obtain the skills necessary to grow into the strong, effective educational leaders that we celebrate today.”

VISD’s Teachers of the Year are chosen based on nominations from their campus peers. Once each campus selects a winner, those teachers must complete an application for the overall VISD Teacher of the Year. A committee then uses the information from those applications to name a district elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year. The two district award winners then can compete for the regional award. 

Fred Litton

“It is exciting to know that more than half of this year’s award-winning educators are UHV alumni,” said Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “UHV is committed to training quality educators who can have a positive impact on their communities, and this is evidence of the university’s success. I can’t express how proud I am of the faculty who have worked so hard to prepare these students. In the same way, we are proud of the students who took what they were taught here and used it to reach future generations.”

The UHV alumni Teachers of the Year with their UHV degrees and years of graduation are:

  • Aloe Elementary – Lovie Sayles-Clark, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, 1998
  • Chandler Elementary – Katie Kelly, Master of Education in administration and supervision, 2011
  • Crain Elementary – Amanda Beck, BSIS, 2012
  • DeLeon Elementary – Patricia Bludau, BSIS, 2010
  • Dudley Elementary – Cathy Taylor, BSIS, 2010
  • F.W. Gross Elementary – Donna Denton, BSIS in early childhood education, 2015
  • Guadalupe Elementary – Michelle Worsley, BSIS, 1994
  • O’Connor Elementary – Julie Hubbard, BSIS, 2004
  • Schorlemmer Elementary – Karey Bland, BSIS, 2005
  • Smith Elementary – Ashley Williams, BSIS, 2008
  • Vickers Elementary – Doris Prince, Bachelor of Science in education, 1979; and M.Ed. in administration and supervision, 1985
  • William Wood Elementary – Susan Pflaum, Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in communication, 2005
  • Cade Middle School – JoAnne Wenske, Bachelor of Arts in mathematical science – computer science, 1978
  • Patti Welder Middle School – April Law, Bachelor of Science in psychology, 2000
  • Mitchell Guidance Center – Chris Henk, BSIS, 2012; currently enrolled in UHV’s M.Ed. in administration and supervision – general leadership program

Julie Hubbard

“These teachers do not just focus on the destination of the learning, they make the journey of learning enjoyable and exciting,” Jaklich said. “In the course of providing a positive learning environment, these dedicated teachers also support our student’s emotional and social needs while inspiring even the smallest of hearts to grow big and change the world. They truly make us ‘VISD PROUD.’”

Julie Hubbard, a special education teacher at O’Connor Elementary School, fell in love with teaching while she was working for VISD as a paraprofessional, and UHV’s proximity and small class sizes made it possible for her to transition into a teaching career.

“A good teacher does so much more than just teach,” Hubbard said. “We’re helping them develop life skills. Many of these kids need someone in their life they can rely on, and teachers have the opportunity to be that person.”

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