Have you ever wondered what would happen if experienced educators, educational researchers, and architects came together to discuss how to improve the learning environment? We did, and our curiosity led to a partnership, established with the
purpose of working together to make a difference in the field of education and the lives of students.
The partnership covered topics such as the psychosocial aspects of the classroom, the culture of the school, teacher pedagogy, and most importantly, the built environment, and how each of these directly impacts learning and student engagement.
Read more about this article featured in the Texas ASCD, Leader of Learners.
Read the full article.
ESC Region 12's work at the The Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) was featured in the August 2019 edition of the Wacoan.
"Innovation. It’s what drives the success and growth of any business, any industry. In education, innovation may be more critical than any other industry. After all, its product — students — will be the leaders and thinkers of tomorrow. From offering advanced degrees in high school and money-back guarantees for college tuition to empowering students to run high-profile STEM projects and conducting groundbreaking research on student engagement, five local institutions are on the cutting edge of educational innovation, with programs that promise to help students maximize their learning opportunities in creative ways."
Greg Oubre (left) and Morgan Castillo (right)
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WACO, Texas - Out of 76 school districts across the 12-county education service area of Region 12, two outstanding educators have been selected for the top teaching award — the 2020 Region 12 Teachers of the Year. Greg Oubre of Dean Highland Elementary in Waco Independent School District is the Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Morgan Castillo of Woodgate Intermediate in Midway Independent School District is the Secondary Teacher of the Year.
“We are extremely proud to have both of these remarkable educators serving kids in this area,” said Jerry Maze, Ed.D., Executive Director of ESC Region 12. “The time and energy they dedicate to their students, their peers, and the profession is truly an inspiration for others to follow.”
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Greg Oubre has been teaching for 11 years—all in Waco ISD, serving as a third-grade teacher at Dean Highland Elementary for the last six and previously as a teacher at Doris Miller Elementary.
Oubre uses a combination of the Whole Brain Teaching method, processing skill exercises, balance beams and unique gameplay to produce fast-paced, engaging lessons for his students. He also provides professional development in classroom technology, classroom management and Whole Brain teaching. Oubre believes educators must be mindful of the ever-changing environment that inner-city students are growing up in and create lessons that are engaging, rigorous and entertaining.
Oubre has helped implement and design numerous programs for summer enrichment, community and parent involvement, and a highly successful intervention program called "Dragon Camp." His innovation, creativity and drive for excellence has brought his inner-city classes back-to-back national championships in Sumdog Math Competitions, world high scores in the Achieve3000 reading program and multiple grants.
"Greg is a dynamic educator with a true passion for teaching and learning." "When you're in his classroom, Greg's energy and enthusiasm are contagious," said Dr. Hazel Rowe, interim superintendent for Waco ISD. "If you're a colleague in his building, Greg is a true mentor helping you to hone your craft. There's no doubt that Greg truly deserves this recognition."
Oubre said that as a regional award winner, he is devoted to inspiring teachers to think of possibilities, instead of limitations. "There are new ideas about teaching that are reforming education and creating incredible results," said Oubre. "For students to do great things, they need great teachers who will believe in them and challenge them. Great teachers are always learning, adapting, growing and inspiring. We must learn from our students so that we can teach them more effectively."
Oubre has a Bachelor in Liberal Arts in Social Studies and holds several certifications, including one in English as a Second Language and one as a Whole Brain Certified Instructor. The Waco ISD teacher is married to Lilly, a third-grade teacher in Midway ISD, and they have one daughter.
Secondary Teacher of the Year
Morgan Castillo has been teaching for 15 years, with the last three as a fifth-grade science teacher at Woodgate Intermediate. Before joining Midway ISD, Castillo served as a Spanish teacher in several school districts and as an International Baccalaureate program coordinator in Waco ISD. During her early twenties, Castillo's eyes were opened to the impacts of systemic poverty and the lack of quality education through poverty exposure trips to developing countries and volunteering in under-resourced communities. Through connecting with people on a personal level and seeing the universality of struggle, Castillo chose to serve in public education, realizing the impact of quality education on a child's success. She began her teaching career in inner-city schools to better understand the challenges faced by students in urban areas.
Castillo believes creating a desire for lifelong learning empowers others and gives them the confidence to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world. Influencing students allowed her access to impacting families as well. Over the years, Castillo taught multiple subjects at the primary and secondary levels in urban, rural and suburban communities. Her teaching style involves facilitating hands-on lessons where students explore, discuss and initiate learning activities. She integrates technology into her classroom, using virtual and augmented reality and incorporates real-world experiences to help her students make lasting connections to the lessons.
“Mrs. Castillo is very deserving of the honor,” said Midway ISD Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas. “She brings her passion for learning to the classroom and truly makes learning come alive for her students. Mrs. Castillo is a master at bringing the outside world into the classroom so her students see the relevance of science in everyday life.”
About Texas Teacher of the Year
Since 1969, the Texas Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program has honored excellence in classroom education and provided a forum to showcase many outstanding educators whose efforts and example have inspired their students, their colleagues, and the communities they serve. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor that the State of Texas can bestow upon a teacher. Facilitated by TASA, the program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.
About ESC Region 12
Education Service Center Region 12 focuses on helping schools save money and leverage resources into the classroom. One of 20 regional education service centers statewide, ESC Region 12 offers training and expert assistance to educators and school personnel in order to increase student achievement. ESC Region 12 offers effective, economical programs and services through professional development, expert assistance, direct services and alternative educator certification. Based in Waco, ESC Region 12 serves 77 school districts and 12 charter schools in Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Mills and Navarro counties.
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