Magnolia ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year - Maria Vazquez
Her main focus in the classroom is to establish a positive relationship with each student and to work to develop them as good citizens within their community, but there’s much more to Magnolia ISD’s Elementary
Teacher of the Year, Maria Vazquez.
Vazquez has served as a bilingual third-grade teacher at Magnolia Elementary for the past 12 years, attended Magnolia Elementary, and is a graduate of Magnolia High School.
“We as teachers are not only here for a job; it’s a place to make a difference in the lives of ours students and help them become better citizens,” said Vazquez. “I knew that my sole purpose was to be a role model for those less fortunate in our school systems.”
Each day Vazquez includes Rigor and Relevance Framework in her lessons to help students apply skills across multiple disciplines and better master skills. She believes that when students are able to find a reason outside of the classroom to use the knowledge they have obtained, the learning is more solidified.
“As they are able to apply the skill across another discipline and bring in the relevance, they are able to master the skills altogether,” said Vazquez. “This is how we will prepare our students to be 21st-century thinkers and problem solvers. This is how they will make a difference in our communities. This is how they will impact society, and make their voices heard.”
She was also instrumental in developing a Bilingual Parent Night at the campus that provided opportunities for parents to become more involved and aware of the daily operations in the school, and develop a better understanding of the importance of education, thus helping them be invested in their child’s future.
Congratulations to Maria on this incredible honor!
Magnolia ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year - Kristen Saldana
Magnolia High School English teacher, and Magnolia ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, Kristen Saldana believes that students need to be able to relate to an author’s experience in order to really connect to the message of a story, and that transcends in her classroom every day.
Saldana has been in education for over 20 years but does not define herself as an “old school” classroom.
“It is important to me that students can see themselves with the reading we do in class and I try to make learning relevant through unique classroom experiences,” said Saldana. “What the students learn from these types of activities will live on in them as they move into adulthood and into the real world.”
One of the unique lessons she has created is “Current Event FriYay” where students select a topic of discussion such as pop culture, literature, economics, etc., and then propose argumentative topics to discuss on Friday. Students not only spend time researching and understanding more about the topic but they also learn how to have civilized conversations about things they might disagree with.
Additionally, she has helped create initiatives within the school to build a more positive school culture and build stronger relationships among students and staff. Through the #LoveServeCare, teachers and students have been able to get to know each other through activities, events, tutorials, and other activities.
“This has allowed students and teachers to get to know each other more on a personal level,” said Saldana. “I can’t tell you how many students that I’ve never actually had in class will now pop in my classroom. This happens every single day and goes to show that #LoveServeCare goes both ways!”
Congratulations to Kristen on this incredible honor!