Daniel Leija, a fifth grade teacher at Esparza ES, has been chosen as a finalist in the Texas Teacher of the Year program. He was first selected as Region 20's Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, and then advanced to the state-level competition with other selected Region nominees.
Leija is known around his campus as "Dan, Dan the Science Man." Students and faculty flock to his classroom to witness scientific experiments come to life and to marvel at his various science collections. His experiments are regularly broadcast campus-wide, cultivating a love of learning and a heightened fascination for the science field. In addition, Leija mentors retiring or separating military personnel interested in becoming teachers.
Facilitated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Teacher of the Year (TTOY) Program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. If selected, the TTOY becomes a spokesperson for public education and is honored at a special ceremony in Austin. The TTOY, a dedicated and highly skilled candidate who is capable of inspiring students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year honor.