Tyler ISD announced the 2017 Teachers of the Year at the annual Teacher of the Year Banquet this evening at Harvey Convention Center. The District honored 30 campus teachers of the year before naming Courtney Heck, second grade teacher at Dr. Bryan C. Jack Elementary School, as District Elementary Teacher of the Year and Kala Morrow, advanced and dual credit government and economics teacher at John Tyler High School, as District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Cooperative Teachers Credit Union was the lead sponsor for the celebratory event. The District winners will compete at the regional level this summer.
Courtney Heck is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has seven years of teaching experience, all of which have been served at Jack Elementary School. Ms. Heck is a product of Tyler ISD having attended Owens Elementary School, Hubbard Middle School and Robert E. Lee High School. She credits her grandmother, mother and aunt as her inspiration for becoming a teacher and her love of education, as they were all teachers at one time in their lives.
“Because of my grandmother, my mother, and my loving teachers, school was one of my favorite places to be,” Ms. Heck said. “That feeling has never left me. Teaching has always been my first choice in a profession.”
Kala Morrow is a graduate of The University of Texas at Tyler where she also earned a master’s degree. She has been a teacher for 10 years, four of which have been in Tyler ISD. As she contemplated law school, a career in the nonprofit sector, or even pursuing a doctorate in political ccience, Ms. Morrow says ultimately these choices didn’t seem to be the right move for her at the time. After serving as a graduate assistant coach for the UT Tyler Patriot volleyball team, a volleyball coaching position became available at an area high school. Ms. Morrow received her alternative certification and began her career as a teacher and coach.
“My first year in the classroom was truly remarkable,” Ms. Morrow said. “In the first few months, I knew that I would be teaching for the rest of my life. I became a teacher by accident, but I developed into an excellent teacher by learning from the incredible educators that had influenced me throughout my whole education.”
Thirty teachers were selected as Campus Teachers of the Year. Criteria for selection of both Campus and District Teachers of the Year included, among other items: playing an active and purposeful role in their community and commitment to the teaching profession through continuous improvement and lessons that creatively engage and inspire students to achieve high academic standards.
The District also presented the Rookie of the Year award to recognize teachers who demonstrate outstanding performance and superior instruction skills during their first year of teaching. The 2017 Rookie of the Year award was given to Leah Allen from John Tyler High School.
“I’ve said this many times, but Tyler ISD has the best teachers and educators in East Texas and I am so proud of their dedication to making sure our students succeed both in and out of the classroom,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said. “It is always fun to honor the best of the best in a profession and we are certainly doing so tonight.”
More than 500 guests attended the banquet, including Tyler ISD staff, administrators, teachers, sponsors, and community members. Mayor Martin Heines also delivered a proclamation from the City of Tyler naming May 2 as Teacher Appreciation Day.
Additional sponsors for the event included Tab and Bonnie Beall and the Tyler ISD Foundation.