EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Anthony Lopez-Waste, a history teacher and coach in the Canutillo Independent School District in El Paso, was named the 2021 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.
“As a history teacher, I have the opportunity to open the eyes of my students to a world that most of them have never seen. My message to the kids each year is to dream big. Get out and see just how wonderful our world truly is,” said Lopez-Waste, who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years prior to becoming a teacher.
“I refer quite a bit to my own experiences. Many of the experiences that I am able to use as examples come from my military experience and from the fact that the Army gave me the opportunity to travel the world,” he said. “The kids are always interested in my perspective, especially when they realize that I’ve been to most of the places we are covering. I think it excites them to know that their history teacher can actually tell them about places because I’ve been there, not because it’s in a book.”
The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program named Eric Hale, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher from Dallas ISD, as the 2021 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. He was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
“I congratulate Eric and Anthony on this achievement. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers,” said Kevin Brown, executive director of TASA. “They have distinguished themselves among thousands of outstanding, dedicated teachers across our state and nation have who have answered the call to serve others.”
To achieve recognition as Texas Elementary or Secondary Teacher of the Year, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and district teacher of the year, then a regional honoree. From the group of 40 regional teachers of the year, six finalists are chosen and interviewed by an independent panel of judges composed of representatives of education associations, community and business leaders, a member of the State Board for Educator Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, and prior Texas Teachers of the Year.
The state’s top elementary and secondary teachers are selected from these six finalists, and the Texas nominee for National Teacher of the Year is chosen from the top two winners. In 2015, Texas Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples of Amarillo ISD was the second Texas teacher to be named the National Teacher of the Year.
The Texas Teacher of the Year program has honored excellence in classroom education since 1969 and continues to annually recognize and reward teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.