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AISD Announces Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers of the Year

Austin, TX—Every teacher has a story. And for Austin ISD’s 2012 Teachers of the Year, the story of what set them on the path to becoming an educator began at an early age. Tracy Graham says her positive experience attending public schools inspired her to teach. Alicia Brown-Forbes says as a young child, she pretended to teach her siblings and knew that teaching was her calling. As a first-generation college student, Matt Earhart wanted to be an advocate for students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.  

 Today, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen named the three exceptional educators Austin ISD’s 2012 Teachers of the Year for high school, middle school and elementary school, during a surprise visit to each teacher’s campus.

Wednesday, May 23, one finalist will be named the Austin Teacher of the Year and will serve as the district’s nominee for the Texas Teacher of the Year.

 “The exciting search for the 2012 Austin Teacher of the Year is an annual opportunity to celebrate educational excellence,” Carstarphen said. “The three finalists represent the exemplary teaching that goes on every day across Austin ISD. I thank them for the dedication they bring to their classrooms.”

 Matt Earhart, High School Teacher of the Year (right), teaches five sections of Advancement via Individual Determination and one section of Contemporary Issues at Anderson High School. He grew up wanting to teach and spends the majority of his days as a role model for students, inspiring them to follow their dreams.

 “As a first-generation college student with a somewhat tumultuous childhood, I take pride in advocating for students who come from underprivileged backgrounds,” he said.  “Too many students face an uphill battle in their paths to success, and I find comfort through empowering these students to truly follow their dreams.”

 During the fall of 2008, Earhart actively sought after the uncertified and dilapidated AVID program. He started from scratch, recruiting a class of incoming freshmen from a feeder middle school, and nearly four years later the Anderson AVID program has 122 students and plans to expand to 150 students next year.

 Alicia Brown-Forbes, Middle School Teacher of the Year (right), is a sixth, seventh and eighth grade ESL and language arts teacher at Webb Middle School. She always knew teaching was her calling. She began by teaching her toys, progressed to teaching her siblings, to finally teaching in the world of education with the goal of making her students feel invested and empowered.

 “When students feel the accomplishments of making progress, but also feel supported when coming up against a stubborn challenge, I know they feel a big part of the program and class,” she said.

Brown-Forbes assumes leadership roles such as writing literacy and ESL curriculum, participating in Professional Development Units, and serving on the teacher/principal evaluation advisory committee.

Tracy Graham, Elementary Teacher of the Year (right), is a second grade teacher at Cowan Elementary school. She graduated from Austin ISD school system and credits some of her teachers for inspiring her decision to teach.

 “My primary goal is to bring my best to our classroom and my students each and every day,” she said.

 Graham teaches the importance of respect and the value of intrinsic motivation so that students want to learn and make good choices. She assumes leadership roles such as mentor teacher for student teachers and pre-service teachers, mentor to national board candidates, climate committee leader and team leader.

 Teachers were selected from more than 100 nominees chosen at the campus and grade levels by colleagues and by selection committees comprising of administrators, parents and professional association representatives.

 A district selection committee will interview the finalists to select who will be announced as Teacher of the Year. The committee’s selection will be announced at Salute: A Tribute to Teaching Excellence, Wednesday, May 23 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. See photos and read the Superintendent's blog.

 For more information, please contact the Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach at 414-2414.