Connally teacher named finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year

August 28, 2012

For the fourth year in a row, a finalist for the Texas Teacher of the Year is from Northside ISD.

Theresa Heim, AVID coordinator and reading teacher at Connally Middle School, is one of six finalists in the state for Texas Teacher of the Year, an annual competition organized by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Superintendent Brian Woods made the surprise announcement at a faculty meeting at Connally on Friday. Heim immediately gave credit to her fellow teachers and staff.

“It’s not a win for me,” she said. “It’s a win for the entire school and the entire District.”

Heim is among the three elementary and three secondary educators who were selected from the 40 regional Teachers of the Year from each of the state's 20 education service centers. The finalists will now vie for the honor of being named Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.

The six finalists will head to Austin Sept. 15 for interviews before a judging panel. Then, the top elementary and secondary teachers will be announced at a luncheon and awards ceremony Oct. 19 at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. One of the winners will be selected to go forward to be considered for National Teacher of the Year honors.

At the Oct. 19 luncheon, all of the regional Teachers of the Year, which include Region 20 Elementary Teacher of the Year Barbara Purkiser from Galm Elementary School, also will be honored.

Heim has been a teacher for 12 years and has worked at Northside ISD since 2007.

Fellow teachers say Heim goes beyond the required scope and sequence of the curriculum to give students the skills they need to succeed in the real world. She’s developed numerous initiatives at the school to support reading, math, and social skills, and organizes several events each year to promote college awareness.

Heim says she takes the time to get to know her students, and makes sure that she truly listens when they open up and share. The goal, she said, is for her students to trust her.

“I empathize with my students, build trust and tackle any obstacle they face with fierce tenacity,” Heim wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “When they realize that you are their advocate, they lay barriers aside and true learning can begin."

Connally Principal Cornelius Phelps presented Heim with the school’s spirit stick after Dr. Woods’ announcement.

“I think she brings tremendous positivity to everything she does,” Phelps said. “She is truly spirit-filled.”

Previous Texas Teacher of the Year finalists from Northside ISD include:

  • Maricela Alarcon, Burke Elementary School (now at Fisher Elementary School), 2010 state finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year
  • Daniel Leija, Esparza Elementary School, 2011 Texas Teacher of the Year
  • June Shanahan, Scobee Elementary School (now at Los Reyes Elementary School), 2012 runner-up, Texas Teacher of the Year