ESC Region 12
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La Vega Educator Surprised with Region 12 Elementary Teacher of the Year Award Tues., Aug. 2

Lorenz Villa Elementary Teacher of the Year


What: La Vega ISD staff enjoyed a surprise presentation of a prestigious award for one of their own at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the LVISD Convocation. Executive Director for Education Service Center Region 12, Dr. Jerry Maze, will present the award.

Who: Lorenz Villa, a 4th-grade dual-language teacher at La Vega Intermediate School H. P. Miles Campus, has been selected by a committee of teacher peers as the 2023 Region 12 Elementary Teacher of the Year. The convocation will be held in a hybrid format.

When: 8:45 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

Where: La Vega High School, 555 N Loop 340, Waco, TX

"As an organization that supports and works with thousands of educators every year, we are extremely proud of Mr. Lorenz," said Jerry Maze, Ed.D., Executive Director for ESC Region 12. "The time and energy he dedicates to his students and their families is truly inspirational.”

Lorenz Villa has been teaching for 28 years, with the last seven in La Vega ISD, serving as a 4th-grade dual-language teacher and previously as a reading, English as a Second Language (ESL) and math teacher for the district. Villa has also served as a math, reading and social studies teacher in Waco and McAllen ISDs. Before becoming a teacher, Villa spent nine years working as a missionary in Mexico and is also a United States Air Force veteran.

Villa's military and work experiences have translated well to a successful teaching career, tying lessons to career experiences and using hands-on activities to demonstrate concepts and guide students to solve problems and explore topics more deeply. Through his experience teaching multiple subjects to English-speaking and English learners, he sees the impact active learning in topics like science has on reading and writing skills. He sees growth in students' skills when they work together in groups to investigate and solve problems, support and respect their peers, and be comfortable with taking risks and making mistakes. He has committed his career to working with students from a low socioeconomic background with a focus on mathematics since it is a key to a career in the growing fields of technology, engineering and science.

Building Connections

For Villa, building trust and connecting to parents and students is the first step to fostering learning. He sees each student as a microcosm of a community, often showing him opportunities to model what he teaches through learning and serving others in the community. His work in Mexico as a health and community development missionary helped him understand that families entrust their children to educators, which is no different from what he sees now. Villa is always ready to serve fellow teachers and leadership, which was evident at the onset of the pandemic. The elementary teacher provided additional support to Spanish-speaking families throughout his campus, translating teachers' lessons, communicating with parents, and making home visits to students who were falling behind with online assignments. He ensured parents knew what resources were available and how to access them, even providing his cell phone for additional support after-hours. Through his diligent efforts and commitment to building relationships, he serves as a link to guide students in school and everyday life–having an ongoing impact on their success. 

Student Initiatives

Villa readily accepts any challenge he encounters and is passionate about helping students learn their native language and the English language. He has led several afterschool programs to create and maintain a culture of learning and cooperation. One example is his work through a Science of Flight grant, which allowed students to work together after school to learn the principles of flight through building, modifying, and testing flight creations. The program not only increased skills around the topics and improved listening and speaking skills but helped students from diverse populations develop friendships. 

The elementary teacher also created a chess club through an education grant, creating opportunities for kids from differing backgrounds to find common interests and enjoy learning together. While the pandemic delayed the momentum of a districtwide chess program the teacher hoped to see, he continued providing time for chess tournaments during school. He also encouraged and saw the activities continue beyond the school day. This year, he hopes to see the program continue to grow and offer a districtwide tournament. After seeing an increase in the number of dyslexia students in English learners, Villa completed extensive studies in dyslexia and began supervising a daily afterschool program to serve a group of students, some of which were two years behind in reading. The results have been very encouraging for the students and their parents.

Villa remains committed to his personal growth through ongoing professional development, serving as a teacher leader, and advocating for his school and education. When asked what message he would deliver if chosen as a state or national teacher of the year, he said he would remind teachers to always focus on their blessings–and to be mindful of the factors that many students are dealing with, whether it be poverty, domestic violence, the pandemic or food insecurity. He credits his becoming a teacher to his Bible studies and his success to modeling the love he sees fellow teachers show their students and each other every day. He urges teachers to be open to challenges, stay encouraged, be involved, and be blessed. 


  • 2022 La Vega ISD District Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • 2000 Region 1 Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Campus Teacher of the Year multiple times in McAllen ISD
  • Speaker at 15th Congressional District Education Forum
  • Member, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • Member, Texas Association of Students for Bilingual Education
  • Member, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science


Education & Family

Villa has a master's in education administration from Grand Canyon University, a bachelor of science from Columbia International University and certifications in elementary and bilingual/ESL, as well as a principal's certification. He has also studied Spanish in Costa Rica and Mexico. The La Vega Pirate is married to Diane, his high school sweetheart. They have four adult children and nine grandchildren.

About the Texas Teacher of the Year Program

About ESC Region 12