Congratulations to the 2015 - 2016 Winners of the Academic Chairs for Teaching Excellence Awards!

  • Teaching Chair Cristina Armenta Cristina Armenta

    Lockheed Martin Chair for Teaching Excellence in Elementary Science

    Sam Rosen Elementary
    Total years as a Teacher: 7
    Total years in FWISD: 7

    Education:  Texas Wesleyan University (2007), Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

    Recognitions and Organizations:

    Sam Rosen Elementary Teacher of the Year (2014)
    Lead Coordinator for Real School Gardens, 2010-Current
    Science and 5th Grade Lead Teacher
    Sam Rosen Elementary coach for softball, soccer, cheerleading and running

    From Cristina: “I have taught a lot of children in my career, and I have learned that kids relate to teachers who have humor, love, and motivation.  Kids can feel your energy, so I feel it is so important to always send out good vibes because that will get any child to be interested in whatever it is I want them to learn.  Teachers must invest deeply into a child’s real life, not just the surface….and understand the underlying reasons of why struggles may exist.  Because sometimes, all it takes is a little extra care.  What better career to wake up to than one that sparks minds and changes lives?”

    From her principal: “Ms. Armenta is an outgoing, vibrant teacher and role model who builds and nurtures her students by building strong relationships with them and their parents.  Her knowledge and love of science is contagious and propels students and co-workers to want to engage.  Ms. Armenta’s leadership among her peers and dedication to exceptional classroom instruction and community outreach contribute to making Sam Rosen Elementary an outstanding school.  As a teacher, Ms. Armenta ‘pays it forward,’ never forgetting that the role of the teacher extends beyond the classroom.”  Ms. Julia Yost


    Teaching Chair Michelle Black Michelle Black
    Kroger Chair for Teaching Excellence in Special Education
    Jo Kelly School
    Total Years as a Teacher: 26
    Total Years in FWISD: 26   

    Education:  Texas Christian University (1989) Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education; Texas Woman’s University (1992)
    Recognitions and Organizations:
        •    Jo Kelly School Teacher of the Year (2013, 2009, 2001)
        •    Sallie Mae First Year Teacher Award  (1990)
        •    Mentor Teacher
        •    Lead Teacher
        •    Chair of Technology Committee
        •    Site-Based Decision Making Committee
    From Michelle:   “When people first meet my students they often seem to notice the differences before recognizing all that we have in common.  People unfamiliar to my campus tend to notice custom wheelchairs, standing frames, feeding pumps and oxygen tanks before they realize that the students dependent on these many supports are at the end of the day, simply children…..children who can laugh and learn, strive and struggle, and most days… the best they can.  The ‘real world’ for my students would not be going to college or getting a regular job, but just surviving day by day.  My students are exceptionally resilient and joyful learners.  They have taught me the value in persistence, physical exertion, and creative thinking.  They remind me of what is important in life, and for that, I am so grateful.”
    From her principal: “Communication with the parents and students have been a top priority for Mrs. Black.  She keeps a daily journal for each student.  She also makes regular phone calls to check on students when they are absent or when she has important information to share with the parents.  She has established a bond between herself and the parents, opening the communication process to best meet the needs of the students she serves.  At Jo Kelly School, Mrs. Black has built trust with her colleagues, has established herself as the lead teacher and continues to build upon the vast experiences she has had to better serve her students’ needs.”  Mr. Leslie Riddell

    Teaching Chair Cindy Burlin Cindy C. Burlin
    Bayard H. Friedman Chair for Teaching Excellence in Performing Arts
    Tanglewood Elementary School
    Total Years as Teacher: 13 
    Total Years in FWISD: 10    
    Education:  Texas Wesleyan University (2002) Bachelor of Music; University of Texas Arlington (2010) Master of Music Education
    Recognitions and Organizations: 
    • Tanglewood Elementary School Teacher of the Year (2013)
    • Texas Music Educators Association State Clinician (2013)
    • Hero Award from Score a Goal in the Classroom (2012)
    • Texas Music Educators Association Region 7 Elementary Chair (2013, 2008-2010)
    • Fort Worth ISD Elementary Music Curriculum Writer (2007-2009)
    • Universal Academy Flower Mound Teacher of the Year (2005)
    Mrs. Burlin’s Students’ Awards & Recognitions:
    • 3rd-5th grade students placed in UIL Music Memory. (2011-2015)
    • Significant representation of Tanglewood students in the FWISD Elementary Honor Choir.
    • 3rd grade students wrote and produced an “Opera Writing Festival. (2013-2015)
    From Cindy: “Not only do I educate potential professional musicians and performing artists, but I also educate future audiences and patrons of the arts.  If we want to protect the quality of arts and music that our society will create, we must educate our audiences, and this begins in elementary school.  If I can help our students connect to the wonder, beauty, and magic of music, then I set them up for a lifetime of enjoying and participating in musical activities.  In my class, students experience creativity through movement, singing, having rhythmic and melodic conversations, playing instruments, writing scripts, and composing.  Every human in some form is a music-maker.”
    From her principal:  “From the moment you enter Mr. Burlin’s music room, you are acutely aware of her talent and expertise.  Her lessons are structured and learner-centered.  The students are singing, moving, and collaborating.  She listens.  Students are validated for their efforts and talents.  It is a safe place to explore, learn, practice, and perform.  Mrs. Burlin’s students can discuss music using content-specific vocabulary.  She incorporates literacy, math, science and social studies into her daily routines to support campus-wide instruction.  Mrs. Burlin has the unique ability to command excellence while being nurturing and supportive.”  Ms. Connie Smith

    Jamie L. CoxTeaching Chair Jamie L. Cox
    Crescent Real Estate Chair for Teaching Excellence in Career and Technology Education
    Polytechnic High School
    Total Years as a Teacher: 23
    Total Years in FWISD: 8      

    Education:  Mississippi State University (1989) Bachelor of Arts in Business Education & Masters in Instructional Technology Education (1994)
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Polytechnic High School Teacher of the Year (2015, 2005, 2003)
    • FWISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalist (2015)
    • Fort Worth Texas Magazine Top Teacher of the Year (2015)
    • Keep Texas Beautiful Educator of the Year (2015)
    • Vice- President of Keep Fort Worth Beautiful Board (2012-current)
    • Member- Texas Technology & Engineering Educators
    • Member- Career & Technology Association of Texas
    From Jamie: “My aspiration is to motivate students to want to learn the subject matter as well to feel valued.  I want to motivate my students to begin their career exploration in my class so we can plan their course of study and pave their path to success.  I want students to be life-long learners, to understand that learning is a ‘life’ event that never ends. I have the belief that every child has the right and ability to learn in a classroom that is a welcoming, stress-free and non-judgmental environment.  My style of teaching is being realistic with students and connecting their learning to real-world experiences.”
    From her principal:  “Ms. Cox is by far one of the most committed teachers I have ever worked with in my tenure as an educator.  The passion and heart that Mrs. Cox shows is outstanding.  Not only has Ms. Cox developed a strong relationship to the Poly community, she has also developed unwavering support from her current and former students.  On countless occasions, students will be found working with her before and after school and during the week-ends on a plethora of community or school events.  Ms. Cox is not just a teacher to her students, but a mentor, confidante and mother-like figure to so many of our students.  Without question, Jamie is the epitome of a teacher who knows how to reach the hearts and minds of the students and parents she serves.”  Dr. Joshua Delich

    Teaching Chair Janet Cox Janet Cox
    Chase Chair for Teaching Excellence in Secondary English
    World Languages Institute
    Total Years as a Teacher: 16
    Total Years in FWISD: 16        
    Education:  University of Texas at Arlington (1978) Bachelor of Arts in Economics; Texas Christian University (1999) Master of Arts in Elementary Education

    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Two time nominee for Campus Teacher of the Year
    • Member of National Education Association, International Literacy Association and United Educators Association
    From Janet: “If I, as a teacher, am observant, flexible and have high expectations for myself and my students, we will all learn.  If I offer a choice of engaging, stimulating, challenging activities that differentiate for student levels and interests, they will want to learn and they will learn.  If I express a positive, eager attitude, it will be contagious.  If I remain an enthusiastic learner, then that model will teach my students that we all can always learn something new.  If I respect my students, they will respect me and that will affect them positively in other parts of their lives. Teaching is very difficult, but rewarding work, and so is learning.”
    From her colleague:  “To reach students beyond the regular school hours, Mrs. Cox volunteered her time and resources to hold various clubs before and after school.  She organized the Literacy Club where she offered fun and engaging activities that encouraged students to read and apply the literacy skills they had learned in class.  Twice a week, Mrs. Cox taught students how to write and publish a newsletter, and to help English learners feel more at ease with their language learning, she had a weekly club where students taught her to speak Spanish.  Janet Cox is an individual who goes above and beyond her calling as an educator.  Ms. Irasema Rosas, Library Media Specialist  

    Teaching Chair Donna Fleetwood Donna Fleetwood
    Outreach Communications Chair for Teaching Excellence in Elementary Reading
    Western Hills Primary
    Total Years as a Teacher: 17 
    Total Years in FWISD: 14          
    Education:  Texas Christian University (1980) Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education; University of Texas Arlington (1994) Elementary Reading Certification
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Western Hills Primary Teacher of the Month (2015)
    • Parent Teacher Association, member
    • FWISD District Advisory Board Member (2010-current)
    • Woodway Elementary Teacher of the Year Nominee (2013)
    • Grade level leader for several years
    From Donna: “Building relationships with students is a key factor in successful, passionate learning.  If a teacher creates an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and desire to learn, students thrive.  A teacher who respects students and authentically cares for them creates a secure learning environment. Learning must be creative, connected to real life experiences and fun!  At least once every day, convey to your students that they are unique, special, and smart. Remember that you may be the teacher to inspire a strong or struggling student to do great things and make a difference in their world.”  
    From her principal: “Although Donna Fleetwood was new to our campus, she forged exemplary levels of camaraderie and was regarded as a team asset by all 10 members of the grade level.  She established partnerships with parents and was able to instill a sense of self-worth and high expectations for each of her students as the year progressed. Mrs. Fleetwood exudes a superb intellectual teaching skillset for working with the various demographics of students’ academic/language needs that our campus serves.  I view Donna in the highest esteem as a first grade teacher on my campus.   Ms. Sonya Kelly

    Teaching Chair Erin Horn Erin Horn
    XTO Chair for Teaching Excellence in Early Childhood Education
    Western Hills Primary
    Total Years as a Teacher:  8
    Total Years in FWISD: 8
    Education:  University of Oklahoma (2002) Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • National Association for the Education of Young Children, member
    • Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, member
    • Real School Gardens Campus Coordinator
    • Recipient of an outdoor classroom grant through BRIT
    • Professional development presenter for Fort Worth ISD
    •  District Early Childhood representative for Western Hills Primary
    From Erin:  “Teaching is a work of great mental fortitude.  To be effective, teachers must differentiate their classroom instruction, activities and assessment strategies. Teachers strive toward excellence through participation in professional organizations as well as forging bonds and relationships with their peers and administrators. It is important not to forget that teaching is not purely academic. A student who does not feel safe or secure in a classroom setting will not perform at the same level as one who is comfortable with the teacher and the learning environment.  Viewing students holistically allows teachers to make more progress with them.”     
    From a colleague:  “Our staff knows Erin is the person to go to for help.  Her superb leadership skills are put in place as the Pre-K team lead teacher.  She ensures we collaborate as a team, have the latest information and adequate material.  As part of her Pre-K team, I always have the certainty that we are on task and doing more than what is required.  Parents feel very comfortable having their children in Erin’s class.  They can feel at ease knowing that their children are in a safe environment with a caring teacher who will engage their children.  Erin is esteemed, respected and admired by supervisors, colleagues, parents and students.”  Ms. Iris Valenzuela, teacher. 

    Teaching Chair Eric King Eric King
    Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP Chair for Teaching Excellence in Health and Physical Education
    Seminary Hills Park Elementary School
    Total Years of Teaching: 12 
    Total Years in FWISD: 13
    Education:  Texas Christian University (2002) Bachelor of Business Administration; Tarleton State University (2003) Educator Certification
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Let’s Move-Active Schools National Recognition Award (2014)
    • Texas Association of Health Physical Education Recreation Dance (TAHPERD) member and Exemplary School Applicant
    • United States Tennis Association (USTA) Program Coach
    • Let’s Move Active School Champion
    • Cowtown Marathon School Team Coach
    • Golden Sneaker Award (FWISD) for Seminary Hills Park Elementary (2014)
    From Eric: ‘I believe that as a P.E. teacher I have a huge responsibility to make lifelong learners of our students and provide them with the tools to achieve lifetime wellness.  Therefore, I must be a lifelong learner myself.  I believe that it is critical to give all students the opportunity to learn.  P.E. class in not recess; it should be an environment conducive to learning and moving.  I also believe it is important to give all students the opportunity to succeed.  I set up my class to include each and every students in the activities and learning.  From our warmup, to fitness focus, to lesson focus and into our cool down, I want all students to be engaged and moving."
    From his assistant principal:  “Mr. King has a great command of his subject.  In fact, Mr. King is used as a model P.E. teacher for FWISD, and he has been asked on numerous occasions to lead professional development for other P.E. teachers in the District.  His lessons are designed in such a way that students are actively engaged, mentally and physically, at all times.  He infuses academic vocabulary into the conversation and expects his students to use it as well.  They speak knowledgeably about ‘cardiovascular health’ and ‘resting heart rate.’  His students know exactly why they are engaging in the many different activities. Our students love Mr. King!”     Ms. Rebecca Putney
    Teaching Chair Isabel Lopez Isabel Lopez
    Angela D. Paulos Chair for Teaching Excellence in Visual Arts
    South Hi Mount Elementary
    Total Years as a Teacher: 15
    Total Years in FWISD: 15
    Education:  Texas Wesleyan University (1996), Bachelor of Arts in Art/Elementary Education.

    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • South Hi Mount Elementary Teacher of the Year (2015)
    • Recognition for Mentorship TCU (2007-2015)
    • TCU Teaching Fellow (2007-2015)
    • South Hi Mount students won 1st place in the District Elementary Art Show (2015)
    • South Hi Mount students won 2nd and 3rd places in District Elementary Art Shows (2013-2014)
    • Nominated and recognized for Excellence in Education by TCU (2015)
    • Presented workshops at the Texas Art Educators Association
    From Isabel: “My philosophy of teaching and learning is to inspire. I want my students to be inspired by what they see around them.  I want them to be inspired to create.  I want them to be inspired to want more and do more.  I want them to be inspired to look past their neighborhood and see a world of opportunities.  My message to new and fellow teachers is to hold your head high with pride.  You are in one of the noblest jobs ever held.  Teachers are the nurses, counselors, and shepherds of the future.  So, go forward and pass that flame of learning, creating, and inspiration.”    
    From her principal: “Ms. Lopez is known for building confidence in our students, for showcasing their art work throughout Fort Worth, and for working with our school community to promote student success.  Her dedication is evidenced by her daily interactions with students, her effective teaching practices and by her collaboration with colleagues and families.  Ms. Lopez gives her time and talents and believes that all students have potential for greatness. From learning about various artists, making real world connections, and learning more about themselves as students and visual artists, students can’t wait to get to Ms. Lopez’s class.”  Ms. Veronica Delgado
    Teaching Chair Kathleen Smith Kathleen J. Smith
    Devon Energy Chair for Teaching Excellence in Secondary Science
    J.P. Elder Middle School
    Total Years as a Teacher: 21
    Total Years in FWISD: 21
    Education:  University of North Texas (1994) Bachelor of Arts in General Studies; University of Texas- Arlington (2011) Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Fort Worth ISD District Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalist (2014)
    • J.P. Elder Campus Teacher of the Year  (2003 and 2014)
    • RadioShack Science Teacher of the Year  (1999)
    • Nominee, Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (2014)
    • Member of Science Teacher Association of Texas and the National Science Teacher Association
    From Kathy: “My philosophy is simple; teach the students who enter my door, no matter their successes or failures.  Instill in each and every student that they can be successful.  Prepare each student for what is to come in the years after they leave me.  Many students have never been given the opportunity to travel, so when I travel I take pictures that can be related back to the classroom, whether it is rocks for plate tectonics, lichens for ecology units, trees growing in rocks for ecological succession, or birds and fish for adaptations, I find ways to use them not only to help teach content and relate it to the real world, but to also give my students the desire to learn and explore! “
    From her assistant principal:  “Ms. Smith has great passion and zeal for improving the level of education.  She is a take-charge person who is able to present creative ideas and communicate the benefits.  Her dedication and diligent work ethic to the students and her job are commendable.  Ms. Smith is attentive to tasks and works tirelessly to achieve the goals of the District and raise them to higher levels of excellence and achievement.”  Ms. Amy Bishop 
    Teaching Chair Isaac Tate III Isaac Tate III
    Sewell Lexus & Infiniti of Fort Worth Chair for Teaching Excellence in Humanities
    Young Men’s Leadership Academy
    Total Years as a Teacher: 22
    Total Years in FWISD: 22
    Education:  Texas Wesleyan (1993) Bachelor of Arts in English and History

    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Selected for observation and evaluation by the National Center of Urban School Transformation and subsequently, the campus received the “Silver Award.” (2015)
    • Selected to travel to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures to assess their multicultural program for the sixth grade curriculum
    • Leads daily “Conventus Fratrum.” (Meeting of the Brothers)
    • Selected as YMLA Campus Teacher of the year in 2012
    • Recognized at Dunbar Alumni Association’s 3rd Annual Torch Light Awards Banquet (2012)
    From Isaac: “My educational philosophy is all students can increase their learning capacities through engagement and effort.  I believe intelligence is not fixed, but can be developed through rigorous and thought-provoking activities.  During the first few weeks of the school year, I constantly tell scholars they are proprietors of their learning; thus, I need their input to make their educational experiences relevant.  Scholars feel empowered once they embrace their roles as stakeholders. Educators need to believe that students can learn regardless of learning disabilities, environmental influences, economic status, or parental involvement.”
    From his principal:  “Mr. Tate is an amazingly dedicated teacher leader who definitely goes the extra mile to educate our scholars in all academic areas, as well as life.  Mr. Tate is involved in many capacities at our Academy, but his classroom instruction is dynamic.  When I say dynamic, I have never seen his scholars have a dull moment in class, which ultimately means authentic student engagement. Our young men absolutely thrive under his instruction!”  Mr. Rodney White

    Teaching Chair Letitia Tate Letitia Y. Tate
    Lockheed Martin Chair for Teaching Excellence in Elementary Math
    Edward J. Briscoe Elementary School
    Total years as a Teacher:  10
    Total years in FWISD:       8
    Education:  Central Connecticut State University (2003) Bachelor of Science in Education/Mathematics
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Edward J. Briscoe Teacher of the Year (2015)
    • Outstanding Educator Award, Fort Worth Alliance of Black School Educators (2015)
    • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
    From Letitia: “Educators with the most success have an innate love, self-motivation, and desire to foster learning for all students, regardless of the surrounding factors that influence the ‘job’ of an educator.  One must never enter into the field of education lightly because the impact on our children and our nation is priceless.  One teacher can change a child’s perspective that will alter their learning experiences.  As educators pursue teaching excellence, I would encourage them to be flexible and ready to change.  The field is ever changing, the dynamics of families that we will serve are changing, laws and regulations are changing, campus personnel changes, as we do also.” 
    From her principal: “Mrs. Tate demonstrates the highest level of passion, professional commitment, and skill in her work with students and colleagues.  To carry out her professional responsibilities, she gives generously of her valuable time.  Mrs. Tate is an innate problem solver and a highly motivated team player.  She constantly seeks out professional development that enhances her skills to increase the academic achievement of students in her class.  Her students have excelled in all content areas, with significant success in math.  Her dedication has provided students a genuine passion for math that will continue to develop.” Dr. Marion Mouton

    Teaching Chair Heather Ware Heather Ware
    Freese and Nichols, Inc. Chair for Teaching Excellence in Secondary Math
    Applied Learning Academy
    Total Years as a Teacher: 12
    Total Years in FWISD: 18     
    Education:  Southwestern Adventist University (2003) Bachelor of Arts in Education; Lamar University (2008) Master’s in Educational Leadership
    Recognitions and Organizations:
    • Nominee for Applied Learning Academy Teacher of the Year (2015)
    • Executive Board Member for United Educators Association  (2005-2015)
    • Westcreek Elementary Teacher of the Month
    From Heather:  “Teaching is the best job on earth!  I absolutely love what I get to do each day.  I get to work with kids, and kids keep you young at heart.  My philosophy of teaching is very simple.  Every child can learn and every child learns in his or her own way, in his or her own time.  A teacher is merely a facilitator who leads students down the correct path.  The difference between my classroom and some other classrooms is that the classroom where I teach very much belongs to the students.  It is their home for the time they are with me.  If students feel safe, they are ok being challenged.”
    From her principal: “When students enter Mrs. Ware’s classroom, they immediately feel that their math class is a warm and nurturing environment where it is absolutely encouraged to ask questions.  Heather has incredibly high standards for her students, and she scaffolds the learning so that all of her students can achieve success. When colleagues visit Mrs. Ware’s classroom, they see hubs of active learning.  Staff members have commented that Heather has made a difference in students’ attitudes about math.  Heather is the epitome of a master math teacher.” Ms. Alice Buckley