Each year, teachers on all eight Mount Pleasant ISD campuses choose one of their own to honor as Campus Teacher of the Year. This honor means a lot because it comes from one’s own peers – the people who see you on your best days and your worst days. They are the people who understand what you face and do daily because they face and do the same things.
From this select group of eight teachers, members of the Mount Pleasant-Titus County Retired School Personnel Association are charged with choosing the District Teachers of the Year. This choice is not easy. In fact, this year, as every year, it was extremely difficult. But when the discussion was over and the votes counted, a unanimous decision had been reached.
David Forest, the Physical Education teacher at Vivian Fowler Elementary School, had been named the MPISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and Tim Davis, the Electrical Technology teacher at Mount Pleasant High School, had been named MPISD Secondary Teacher of the Year.
MPISD Elementary Teacher of the Year: David Forest
David grew up in California and is a graduate of Salinas High School. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Fresno State University and his teaching certificate from California State University at Monterey Bay. He taught in elementary and middle schools in California and Texas for seven years and has spent the last fifteen years at Vivian Fowler Elementary.
When asked why he became a teacher, Forest said, “When my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Orr, came to visit me in the hospital as I was preparing to get a brain tumor removed, she left me with a very strong emotion that is hard to describe. The level of care she showed me helped shape my life. I would like to carry that on for the students I serve. It makes a difference in the people we relate to during our lives on this Earth.”
When asked what he likes most about teaching, Forest said, “The positive relationships I get to build with students for the years they attend Fowler are priceless. Getting to use physical activities and games with kids to help build some of life’s biggest character traits is a true blessing. The poster in our gym sums it up, ‘Everything I learned in life, I learned in P.E.’”
His advice to someone considering a career in teaching is simple: “It’s not about the income, but rather the outcome. There are not a lot of careers in this world where you get to make a direct impact on the life of another person. I hold that responsibility with honor.”
MPISD Secondary Teacher of the Year: Tim Davis
Tim Davis is a graduate of Lewisville High School. He went through a 4-year apprenticeship with Metro Electric in Dallas. He later attended Texas A&M—Commerce and received a Texas Educator certification in Vocational Trade and Industry. He is also a Master Electrician in the State of Texas. He began with MPISD in 1993 in the Maintenance Department and began teaching Electrical Technology classes in 2001.
When asked why he became a teacher, Davis said he had a chance conversation with then Superintendent, Dr. Ken English. “He convinced me to use my experience and knowledge to educate the electricians of tomorrow,” said Davis.
When asked what he likes most about teaching, Davis said, “Teaching a trade class like Electrical Technology is unlike many disciplines in that it has a direct and immediate application in the workforce, straight out of high school. Not all students attend or want to attend college. Teaching the electrical trades class to our students can have a positive impact. I’m extremely blessed to be in this position, to help our students.”
His advice to prospective teachers is simple, “You must have a passion for helping others.”
Campus Teachers of the Year
The Child Development Center Teacher of the Year is Pre-K Dual Language teacher Joyce Robles. She attended school in Mount Pleasant and graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. She earned an Associate’s Degree from NTCC in 2005 and her Bachelor of Science degree in 2007 from Texas A&M—Texarkana. She went on to obtain a Master’s degree from the University of Texas—El Paso in 2015. She has been a teacher at the Child Development Center for eleven years.
When asked why she became a teacher, Robles said, “The main reason I became a teacher was to make a difference in the lives of every student that walks through my door. I want to help students through their path of life, shaping them into the person they will become.”
What Robles said she likes about teaching is “I am not just teaching. I am a mentor, a confidant, and a friend. I love the smiles I get when they understand or learn a new skill.”
She has the following advice for someone considering a career in teaching. “I would tell them that teaching lets you impart life lessons that the students will never forget. It puts you in a position to influence their decisions, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, and imaginations.”
The Teacher of the Year at Annie Sims Elementary School is Kindergarten teacher Adriana Sanchez. She attended Mount Vernon schools and is a graduate of Mt. Vernon High School. She earned her Associate’s degree from Northeast Texas Community College, then transferred to Texas A&M University—Texarkana for her degree in General Studies and major in Bilingual Education.
Sanchez said she “learned a strong work ethic from my parents. After high school I was going to college and I applied for a position as a Library Aide. I worked with high school students and I learned how to motivate students to read. Then I had the opportunity to work closer with limited English students as the ESL/Migrant Coordinator and I loved working with students that are second language learners like I was growing up. Many of their struggles were some of mine.”
When asked what she likes most about teaching she said, “I became a teacher because I wanted to make an impact on student’s lives. When I moved from Mexico to Texas as a young child, my teacher made my fears fade and I began to be more and more confident in myself. I learned quickly that it didn’t matter the difference of languages or ethnic backgrounds that made teachers the best influences but the way they loved me and encouraged me to never give up and keep up the good work.”
Her advice to someone considering teaching? “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I pour my love on my babies and if that is all they get from me that day then I feel like I have done my job. I feel exhausted some days but I would not change it for the world. My family and my students are my reason!”
The E.C. Brice Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Kindergarten Dual Language teacher Mistie Sloan. She herself attended E.C. Brice Elementary School, Wallace Junior High and is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. She attended Northeast Texas Community College for two years before transferring and obtaining her Bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. She has taught for MPISD for 19 years, six at the Child Development Center and thirteen at Brice.
When asked why she became a teacher, Sloan explained that she loved to babysit as a teenager and did so quite a lot. “I just knew that was my calling, to teach and be with young children.”
Sloan said what she likes most about teaching is “when you see the lightbulb go off and everything you have taught them clicks in their little minds.”
She said that she would tell someone considering a career in teaching “to get lots of rest, take vitamins, and have lots of patience. My advice to any teacher would be to build a relationship with their children.”
The Corprew Elementary School Teacher of the Year is 3rd grade Math Dual Language teacher Karen Sharp. She is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, earned her associate’s degree at NTCC, and her undergraduate degree from UT Tyler. She spent ½ a year at Headstart and then the next 24 years at Corprew Elementary.
When asked why she became a teacher, Sharp explained, “In high school I was always the one that students came to if they needed help or reteaching of a lesson. I loved being able to help others succeed.”
Sharp says what she likes most about teaching is helping students succeed as well as helping fellow teachers.
She would tell someone considering a teaching career that “You must have a true desire to teach. It is definitely a calling from God. The sparks you see in your students’ eyes when they succeed makes all of the sacrifices you must make worth it. Also, flexibility is a must.”
The Teacher of the Year at P.E. Wallace Middle School is 5th grade Science Dual Language teacher Olga Renee de la Torre Guzman. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. She has worked in Education for fifteen years from elementary all the way up to graduate students in college.
She says teaching was never really in her plans. “But God always has a plan, a perfect plan for each of us. I was offered a good administrative position when I graduated. One of my former high school teachers heard about my new position and called to congratulate me. A few months later she contacted me and asked if I could help her teach an Economics class at my high school. At first, I was nervous, but I really felt comfortable and excited teaching Economics. Since then, I have continued to grow as a full-time teacher.”
When asked what she likes about teaching she said, “My teaching is a reflection of how much I care for each student. I feel confident every day I walk into my classroom because I know I have done or tried my best to prepare an instruction with quality and defined objectives. Every day is an opportunity to share my knowledge and learn from my students.”
Her advice to someone considering a teaching career is “Take the good and positive advice from veteran teachers, but do not let others’ experience become your experience. Listen to your heart and let it be your guide to help your students succeed. Always prepare a class that you enjoy and make fun an everyday experience.”
The Teacher of the Year at Mount Pleasant Junior High School is 8th grade Math Teacher Margarita Ortega. She attended MPISD schools and is a Mount Pleasant High School graduate. She holds an Associate of Arts in Business Administration from Northeast Texas Community College and a Bachelor’s in Business Management from UT Tyler. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Counseling from Texas A&M—Commerce. Ortega worked in the Business office at the Administration building for two years before teaching math for the last five for MPISD.
Ortega truly believes that it was part of God’s plan for her to have the privilege to serve in her community by becoming a teacher. “I am thankful for the opportunity given to me by my former principal, Dustin Cook, who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Looking back, I am glad I said yes to teaching! Fast forward five years and now I am pursuing a Master’s in Counseling which I plan to put to good use to help serve students, teachers, staff, parents and the community.”
She says, “I believe in building strong relationships with my students and providing a nurturing classroom environment that promotes academic achievement. I believe in the importance of instilling in my students the power of a growth mindset. It contributes to a classroom environment where students feel comfortable and more willing to take risks, fail, embrace challenges, and strive for continuous improvement.”
Her advice for someone considering a career in teaching is that “it is an honor and a privilege. As a teacher we have the power to build up our community by empowering our students, our future generation. We have the responsibility and we owe it to our students to provide them with every opportunity to build lifelong learners. Teaching may take an emotional toll on you, but the incredible sense of purpose that it gives you makes it all worth it!”
“These teachers exemplify what is good about public education, what is good about Mount Pleasant ISD schools,” said MPISD Superintendent of Schools Judd Marshall. “They care about their students. They go the extra mile. They serve as role models for their students and for their colleagues. They give of themselves daily to make sure all of our students receive the best possible education. We are blessed that they have chosen to work for MPISD.”
The Mount Pleasant ISD Teachers of the Year were recognized at the May 20 Board of Trustees meeting and honored at the End-of-Year Breakfast on Friday, May 24, 2019.