Gov. Rick Perry today praised Texas teachers for their work in helping students across the state receive a quality education that will keep students on track in every grade to graduate college- and career-ready. The governor spoke at the annual Texas Teacher of the Year Award Ceremony, which recognizes and rewards one elementary and one secondary school teacher who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.
"Texas is a better place thanks to the men and women who devote themselves to the education of our children," Gov. Perry said. "These teachers' hard work ensures that students who leave our public schools and head to college, the workforce or public service have received a quality education that will prepare them to enter the increasingly competitive global marketplace."
Yushica Walker, a sixth-grade science teacher at Morehead Middle School in the El Paso Independent School District, was named the 2010 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, and math and language arts teacher Donna Patrick of Southern Hills Elementary School in the Wichita Falls ISD was named the state's new Elementary Teacher of the Year.
The governor credited the hard work of Texas school teachers with helping increase TAKS scores in 2008-09 in every subject and grade, and helping Texas become recognized as one of only four states to make progress toward closing the achievement gap in math. While thanking teachers for their dedication in the classroom, Gov. Perry also noted that Education Week Magazine recently recognized Texas as one of the first states in the nation to hold schools directly accountable for ensuring our students graduate college- and career-ready with four years of math, science, social studies and English on their transcript.
Gov. Perry is committed to recognizing excellence in education. During the 81st Legislative Session, the governor worked with the Legislature to increase funding for the nation's largest teacher merit pay program by more than $50 million, making $394 million available to award teachers who improve student achievement and teach at hard-to-staff campuses and subjects. Additionally, last week two Texas teachers were awarded the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, which provides public recognition and financial rewards to exemplary elementary and secondary education professionals.