LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor the state of Texas can bestow upon a teacher, and Lubbock High School English teacher Melissa Wafer-Cross is a heartbeat away. Lubbock ISD was notified earlier this week that Wafer-Cross is one of only 3 finalists for the prestigious honor of Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.
A veteran teacher with more than 32 years of experience, Wafer-Cross has taught at Lubbock High School for the last eight years. Lubbock High Principal Doug Young said, "Melissa's a joy to have on our faculty. She challenges the kids beyond what you could imagine…her insightfulness into the material and the way she leads class discussions." Young added, "The discussions make the students probe deeper into the material and actually think about what they're discussing and what they're reading, going above and beyond in that capacity is what really excites the students into the material and into the learning. And that's what makes her a master teacher."
Wafer-Cross had a unique teaching experience which she found very educational. She taught GED classes at the Lubbock County Jail and credits the inmates for teaching her how to be a teacher, saying, "Those classes were a microcosm of many classrooms I've been in over the years. I learned to adapt to a classroom with students of differing abilities, to listen honestly and give relevant feedback; to assess student goals and move forward with a plan." "More significantly, I learned that students, no matter where they are in their school career, want to achieve at the highest level possible for them. Real success gives a sense of accomplishment. Education changed everything for some of them," Wafer-Cross said.
To become eligible as a candidate for Texas Teacher of the Year, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus, district then regional Teacher of the Year. Wafer-Cross was named as her campus and the LISD Secondary Teacher of the Year last May. She received word that she had been named the Region 17 Secondary Teacher of the Year two weeks ago.
The three finalists will undergo interviews in September. The Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year will be named at a banquet in Austin in mid-October.
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