By Todd Martin
Two teachers known for designing creative lessons to engage students in the classroom and for extending heartfelt care beyond the classroom are this year’s Killeen Independent School District teachers of the year.
Harker Heights High School science teacher Barton Jacques is secondary teacher of the year and Nolanville Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Laura Young is the elementary teacher of the year.
Fifty-one campus teachers of the year walked into the Killeen Civic and Conference Center ballroom Thursday, stepped into a spotlight and waved to the audience with their images magnified on a huge screen.
One by one, Executive Director of Elementary School Leadership Jo-Lynette Crayton revealed six elementary teacher of the year finalists before naming Young the teacher of the year.
Next, Crayton named five secondary level finalists and then announced Jacques teacher of the year.
Other elementary finalists are Tami Barclay of Harker Heights, Ame Campbell of Trimmier, Trinity Tinsley of Reeces Creek, Katie Hequembourg of Duncan, Joshua Wells of Cavazos and Lynda Freeman of Iduma.
At the secondary level, finalists are Zendria Anderson of Manor Middle School, Teaven Barnum of Patterson Middle School, Funke Alashe-King of Palo Alto Middle School, Albert Gonzalez of Union Grove Middle School and Cody Parrott of Killeen High School.
First Young, then Jacques made their way from their campus tables to the stage, where they accepted awards then stood and watched video of their principals, as well as students and parents praise them.
Each school conducted a peer nomination process to select their teacher of the year. A committee of educators and community members screened applications, interviewed candidates and conducted classroom visits.
Now, Young and Jacques enter the Region 12 Education Service Center teacher of the year process as KISD representatives.
In accepting their awards in front of family and colleagues, both expressed humility and gratitude.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Young said, explaining the power of working with young children filled with potential and the privilege of unlocking that hidden talent. “We get to make a difference.”
Now finishing her 30th year teaching, she said it’s “all about relationships and nothing else.”
“You hate to see them go,” she said of the end of each school year. “It’s such a tiny moment in their life we have.”
Jacques taught at the elementary level five years in Temple ISD before joining his family’s business. It was Harker Heights High School Principal Larry Brazzil who convinced him to accept a long-term substitute-teaching role. He never left.
“Teaching is a calling,” he said. “The work we do affects our students now and in the future.”
Following the suspenseful buildup and emotional ceremony, the two teachers said the moment was overwhelming.
“It’s very humbling,” Young said. “I’m blessed to receive a reward for doing something I love.”
Continuing to teach after 30 years, the fifth-grade teacher said she is motivated to keep building lessons to reach each child. “The biggest motivation is being able to develop creativity. I tailor the learning based on their needs,” she said.
“They are the customers and I am here to serve them. I’m proud of the great training and experience in KISD,” Young said.
“It’s an affirmation of what I do everyday,” said Jacques. “It shows that people notice. I don’t go to work. I go to school and have fun. I want to impart that idea to kids. My measure of success is their success.”
May 19, 2017