– Governor Greg Abbott, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams and Texas
Association of School Administrators (TASA) Executive Director Johnny Veselka today
congratulated Amarillo teacher Shanna Peeples who has been named 2015 National Teacher of the Year. Peeples, an English teacher at Palo Duro
High School in the Amarillo Independent School District, is the first educator
from the state of Texas to earn the national honor since 1957.
National Teacher of the Year program
identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work
in the classroom and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the
state and national levels. The Council of
Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which oversees the National Teacher of the
Year program, today announced Peeples as this year’s winner.
"I want to congratulate Shanna Peeples on this extraordinary honor and express my sincerest gratitude for her dedication to improving the lives of so many young Texans," said Governor Abbott. "The future success of our children is dependent on educators like Shanna, and with their invaluable dedication, Texas will continue to inspire a culture of excellence that will keep our state the shining beacon of educational growth and opportunity."
Commissioner Williams said, “Shanna Peeples brings a combination of knowledge, energy and enthusiasm to
her classroom and her students are the beneficiaries. It is wonderful to see a Texas educator claim this national honor,
someone who represents the very best of what you will see on campuses
throughout our state.”
“Shanna Peeples is an outstanding educator who truly
connects with her students, showing them that the possibilities for their
future are limitless,” said TASA’s Veselka, whose organization administers the
Texas Teacher of the Year program and serves as Texas’ state coordinator for
the National Teacher of the Year program. “She cultivates a collaborative,
engaging learning environment, serving as a model for her colleagues throughout
the teaching profession. She will be a great ambassador for public education
and the teaching profession.”
worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, pet sitter and journalist prior to
becoming a teacher – a profession she says eventually chose her. She taught seventh
grade English Language Arts for about six years before moving to high school.
Peeples teaches AP English and English III. She serves as the English
department chair as well as an instructional coach for other teachers. At
Palo Duro High School, many of Peeples’ students are immigrants, who come from
as many as 18 different countries in some school years.
“My students, survivors of deep and debilitating trauma, have shaped the kind
of teacher I am," said Peeples. “They have taught me to never make a
promise I can’t keep, because so many already have learned to see the world
through suspicious eyes. To be the best teacher to them, I have to remember
this and honor their background. I remember so I can gain their trust because I
want them to read and write their way out of where they are.”
Peeples will be formally recognized by
President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony on Wednesday, April 29. Commissioner
Williams, Veselka, State Board of Education (SBOE) Member Marty Rowley and
Amarillo ISD Superintendent Rod Schroder will be in Washington D.C. to attend
selection for this award is perfectly fitting,” said SBOE member Rowley, whose
district includes Amarillo. “Not only will she represent the Amarillo area
well, she is also an excellent representative of the teaching profession
nationally. Shanna is caring, articulate, innovative and dedicated to the
well-being of her students and fellow teachers. Public education will be
well-served with Shanna as National Teacher of the Year.”
Peeples was named the 2015 Texas Secondary Teacher of
the Year last fall as part of the Texas Teacher of the Year program. To achieve
recognition in that program, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and a
district Teacher of the Year, then be selected as one of 40
regional Teachers of the Year — one elementary and one secondary teacher from
each of the 20 Education Service Center regions. Six finalists are then chosen,
and following an interview process, the Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year
and Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year are named. One is selected to represent
the state in the National Teacher of the Year program.
National Teacher of the Year Program is run by the Council of Chief State
Schools Officers and is presented by Voya Financial. Every
year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the
District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are
selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, the National Teacher
of the Year is then selected by a panel representing 15 renowned education
organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators.
For more information on the Texas
Teacher of the Year program, visit http://www.tasanet.org/txtoy.
For information on the National
Teacher of the Year program, visit http://www.ccsso.org/ntoy.html.
Shanna Peeples will be available to do interviews with the Texas media from
2:30-3:30 p.m. today. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
to schedule an interview.