From Texas Association of School Administrators:
Jeremy Wagner, an eighth-grade math and science teacher at Heritage Middle School in Frenship ISD, was named the 2013 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Wagner will also represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
Irene Salom, a fourth- and fifth‐ grade special education teacher at Sambrano Elementary School in San Elizario Independent School District, was named the 2013 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Wagner and Salom learned of their top honor at a special ceremony and luncheon at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Each will receive a cash award, a commemorative trophy and other prizes. In addition to the state's top two educators, the other four state finalists, along with the 34 Regional Teachers of the Year were honored.
Jeremy Wagner's mission in life was to save the world. Between his high school history teacher who served as his mentor and helped him apply for college, to his mother who served as a living example of tenacity by going back to college at age 35 to become a teacher, Wagner saw that teaching was the way to make a difference in the world.
"I knew, by watching her, that my mission to save the world could become a reality by helping make that kind of difference for other students," Wagner said.
Believing that teaching is both a science and an art, Wagner incorporates hands ‐on activities and lessons to keep his eighth-‐grade science classroom from becoming boring and cumbersome.
"In my room, students are engaged in learning. Hands on experiences become personal experiences, and personal experiences become the most solid platform for meaningful learning," he said.
With five years of teaching experience under his belt, Wagner has twice been nominated for Teacher of the Year, once in the 2008–2009 school year while teaching at Terra Vista Middle School, and this year at Heritage Middle School.
Despite the accolades and honors, Wagner says his greatest contribution has been with his students.
"As a teacher, the honors and awards mean a lot, and provide me the motivation to keep going, but my ultimate goal of ‘saving the world' will always lie in the children that come through the door each August, and leave a little better, a little brighter, and a little more prepared to face a rapidly changing world in May," Wagner said.
Each year, two teachers from each of the 20 regional Education Service Centers become eligible for two titles, Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. To achieve recognition, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and a district Teacher of the Year, and ultimately a regional honoree. From this group of 40 regional teachers, six finalists are chosen and are interviewed by an independent panel of judges. The state's top elementary and secondary teachers are selected from these six exemplary finalists.