This is the first year Highland chose to participate in the Texas Teacher of the Year selection, and their teacher, Tammy Carper, was chosen as Elementary Teacher of the Year for Region 14.
Region 14 includes 43 school districts in the Abilene region. Each year they allow participating school districts to nominate a teacher from their school to be among a number of teachers that Region 14 chooses from to represent their region as Teacher of the Year. Carper, Highland’s fourth grade teacher, was selected as the Elementary Teacher of the Year by Region 14, after being chosen by her peers at Highland.
“Mrs. Carper is an excellent representative of the teaching profession,” stated Donna Stewart, Highland elementary principal. “She is dedicated to the success of each one of her students and works tirelessly to ensure that success.”
Representatives of Blue Bell Creameries were on hand at Highland Tuesday to hand out ice cream sandwiches to the entire school and to recognize Carper for her Teacher of the Year honor.
Carper is in her 12th year at Highland, having started as a part-time reading specialist when her two children were young. Her teaching career began in 1990 at her alma mater, Roby CISD. She has also taught in Sterling City, Stanton and Sands and taught a variety of subjects at the junior high level, taught first grade, and even coached junior high girls’ athletics. She has taught fourth grade at Highland for the last five years. She earned her elementary teaching degree and a Master’s as a reading specialist from Angelo State.
“I have taught at all levels at one point or another in my career and can honestly say that I loved each age level, for different reasons,” she said. The most rewarding aspect of teaching for her is the relationships she builds with a group of new students each year. “When we begin a year, there are some students that I only know by name,” she said. “However, by the end of the year, I consider every one of them ‘my kids’ because of the bond we’ve built throughout the year.”
She pointed out that she keeps in touch with students and athletes she’s taught over the years, and to hear one of them say that she has made a difference in their lives has made all she’s done worth it.
“The most inviting reason to teach elementary is that the students are eager to learn and participate. Learning still holds a certain level of magic for them,” she added. She always wanted to teach, and she credits her parents for teaching her the value of hard work and encouraging her that she could reach her goals with that hard work. “We were always told that we could be anything we wanted to be, which in my case, was a teacher.” She also credits a number of teachers who taught her or worked with her for their positive influence.
Like most women, Carper said the hardest thing about her job is finding a balance between doing her best as a wife and mom, and yet still doing her best as a teacher. “Both roles are demanding of your time and energy,” she said. “With the more rigorous curriculum coming along, it is necessary to constantly look for ways to take the students to a higher level.”
Stewart pointed out that “teachers from across the state go above and beyond what is required so that Texas students are successful.” She said most teachers like Mrs. Carper do not want recognition but are “very deserving of our respect, gratitude and recognition.”
Carper said it meant the world to her that her co-workers at Highland chose her to represent their school. “I feel very honored and humbled,” she said. “There are many other teachers in Region 14 who are just as deserving.” She added that she feels extremely blessed to work in a school district where she is surrounded by “talented educators, awesome students, and a supportive, involved community.” “Those factors make what I do a pleasure.”