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TASA names 2023 Texas Teachers of the Year

Round Rock—TASA, which facilitates the Texas Teacher of the Year program, has named Texas’ top teachers for 2023.

Shelley Jeoffroy, a fifth-grade math teacher at Otis Brown Elementary in Irving ISD, was named the 2023 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. Jeoffroy was chosen to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition, so she will have the title of 2023 Texas Teacher of the Year.

Chris McLeod, a rocket engineering teacher from Brazosport ISD (Clute, Texas), was named the 2023 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.

The announcements were made during an awards ceremony in Round Rock, Texas, Oct. 21. Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy.

Also honored during the luncheon were the Regional Teachers of the Year and the finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year: Kari Johnston, Perez Elementary School, Austin ISD; Andrea Larson, McNeil High School, Round Rock ISD; Lisa Mackey, Fox Elementary School, Klein ISD; and Tricia Shay, Borger High School, Borger ISD.

“I congratulate Shelley and Chris on this achievement,” Kevin Brown, executive director of TASA, said. “Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers. They have distinguished themselves among thousands of outstanding, dedicated teachers across our state and nation who have answered the call to serve others.”

Shelley Jeoffroy is a fifth-grade math teacher at Otis Brown Elementary in Irving ISD. Her career in education spans 17 years with the past 15 years in Irving. Over the years, she has taught all subjects, but primarily math and science. She also has made educational contributions globally, serving students in Kenya, Peru, Mexico and Morocco.

“Having witnessed the possibilities while working with very economically challenged students in a variety of countries, I have advocated for more innovative opportunities for students in my American classrooms,” Jeoffroy said. “I pushed for lessons as a district curriculum writer that allowed for not simply the presentation and confirmation of knowledge, but that afforded scholars the chance to be inventive with their new learning and skills.

“At first, my American students were somewhat resistant as this wasn’t their normal educational experience. However, with time, their confidence grew, and they flourished. They would approach any new knowledge with a sense of assurance and bravery, and innovativeness became second nature.

“Students were much more engaged and invested because they were now the actual pilots not just the passengers.”

Jeoffroy holds a BA in English and biology from The University of Texas in Arlington, where she also attended graduate school.

Chris McLeod teaches 10th-12th grade rocket engineering at Brazoswood High School in Brazosport ISD. During his 11-year career in education, he has taught physics, chemistry, engineering and a host of other science courses as well as student council and teen leadership. McLeod’s classroom is a place of collaboration and “organized chaos” as groups dive into research, design, and fabrication, with teams routinely meeting with local industrial and manufacturing businesses as they develop their rockets. His students have hosted design reviews with professionals from Blue Origin, SpaceX, NASA, Dow, BASF and many other companies. His teams have consistently earned praise on their research and design of high-power hybrid rockets and are often in communication with university rocketry teams.

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.