The Texas Association of School Administrators announced today that Lanier Early College High School Teacher Tara Bordeaux has been chosen as the 2018 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Ms. B, as she's known to her students, will represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
This is the second year in a row that an Austin ISD teacher has received this honor.
"I'm just trying to breathe right now. I can't believe it," Bordeaux said after the announcement.
Bordeaux has taught media arts at Lanier ECHS since 2013. Prior to that, she spent 10 years working in television and film production in Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor's degree in film and photography from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Among the people she thanked was Mary Kay Canon, who Bordeaux credits with saving her high school career.
"I know firsthand how hard life can be on a young heart, and I know how easy it is to give up. I know, because I did, and I dropped out of high school," she said, recounting how she dropped out as a junior. "What I do want to make sure of is that, 24 years later, I thank you. The one thing that I carry with me my whole life are the words you spoke to me—that I was somebody, that I meant something to you."
In her four years as an educator, Bordeaux has built a nationally recognized media arts program. Her students' work has been featured in national advertising for Alamo Drafthouse Theaters, PSAs televised on PBS and documentary short films premiered at SXSWedu. It has also won multiple awards in film production competitions.
Canon, who retired after a long career as a teacher, principal and dropout prevention specialist, said the recognition of her former student was gratifying.
"It's amazing," she said. "She's outstanding. She's just taking the ball and running with it."
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.
"My hope is that, as a teacher, I can inspire my students to persevere and succeed in ways I never could," Bordeaux said. "I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to learn from teachers who truly care about the impact they are making in a child's life. I chose to become a teacher because I wanted to give students the chance to chase their dreams and learn how to believe in themselves even if the world gives them reasons to stop believing."
Marissa Torres, a third-grade teacher from White Settlement ISD, was named the 2018 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.