Megan Holden, a Lake Travis High School English and art history teacher, was among the six state finalists for 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year.
Holden was selected from among 40 regional teachers of the year and was honored Friday along with the other five finalists at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Holden, who has taught for 21 years, started the school’s “Fight Club,” an organization that helps teachers support students in crisis. She also co-founded with a parent volunteer the “Cavalier Lounge,” a resource center to provide food, clothing and personal care items to students in need.
“Over the years, I have found how important it is for students to know that someone sees or hears them,” Holden, 51, said. “When I find out that students are going through hardship, I find the time to speak to them privately. I ask them to tell me what’s going on, and I offer my support. Sometimes that looks like giving them a few extra days to work on a project, sometimes it means finding a kid a pair of glasses, and sometimes it is as simple as sending them to the restroom to get themselves together after a good cry.”
Jeff Wheatcraft, an eighth-grade science teacher at Alamo Heights Junior School in the Alamo Heights school district outside of San Antonio, was named Texas Teacher of the Year.
Wheatcraft has taught at the school since 2012. In the past few years, he was tasked with creating the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, which has outgrown its classroom space because it’s become so popular.
“The majority of lessons are real-world problems with no definitive solution,” he said. “I want students to know that there are still problems we are facing that need to be solved, and they have the skills to find solutions.”
The Texas Association of School Administrators’ award, which has been given since 1969, is the highest honor a teacher can receive in the state. The Teacher of the Year program recognizes teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. Wheatcraft now will represent the state in the national competition.
The organization also recognized Rhonda Peña, who teaches at Bryan Elementary School in the Mission school district, as 2019 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Austin teachers Tara Bordeaux of Lanier High School was named the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year last year and Allison Ashley of Becker Elementary teacher was the recipient of the 2017 award. Round Rock district teacher Revathi Balakrishnan was awarded the 2016 title.