‘And the winner is …’: The competition for AISD’s top honor

Austin

Austin Independent School District will give out one of its biggest honors of the year Thursday: naming the Teacher of the Year.

Last year it was media arts teacher Tara Bordeaux at Lainer Early College High School. She went on to win the Texas Teacher of the Year award as well.

“When you win Teacher of the Year for the district, that’s already a huge honor, that’s a really prestigious honor just to be thought of like that,” Bordeaux says.

According to AISD, there are 5,712 teachers and every year each campus nominates one teacher for the award. That amounts to 120 teachers, which are then narrowed down by a committee to four finalists. The winner goes on to compete for the title of Texas Teacher of the Year.

Bordeaux says the award really changes your life and leads to new responsibilities.

“Now you are somebody who is a teacher leader, you don’t just serve the students in your classroom, you are representing every teacher in Austin. So you want to make sure you are doing a good job and your life changes because you are somebody the district knows you can be a model classroom for others.”

Bordeaux says since winning the honor she has spent a good deal of time talking about how she doesn’t teach to a test and allows her students to create projects that give them hands-on experience.

“I don’t give a lot of tests in my class. As a matter of fact this year, final exams for me are project-based because for me if you teach to a test, in my honest opinion, teaching to a test means they have a 50/50 chance of guessing and not truly knowing the material that is on that test. But if I give them a hands-on mastery of skills then they have to actually show me the things I taught them.”

Thursday night the district will also honor the principal, counselor and librarian of the year.

The event takes place at the AISD Fine Arts Building in the Mueller development at 6:30 p.m.

And for whoever wins, Bordeaux has some words of wisdom: “My advice to whoever wins teacher of the year is to get ready, because if you think your life as a teacher is busy now, no, it’s been a breeze. Wait until you win teacher of the year. You’re going to feel busy.”

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