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Texas Instruments Foundation recognizes 10 Dallas, Plano and Richardson teachers for innovative science, math teaching practices

TI Foundation STEM Awards have provided $500,000 to 50 teachers in past five years

Sep 13, 2011

DALLAS, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation presented its Innovations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Teaching Awards today to 10 teachers from the Dallas, Plano and Richardson Independent School Districts (ISD) at TI's Dallas headquarters.  

Over the past five years the TI Foundation has awarded $500,000 to 50 teachers to enhance effective teaching and help retain excellent teachers in these North Texas school districts.

The awards honored local secondary math and science teachers who consistently demonstrate quality instruction and enhance student achievement in the STEM subjects. Each honoree receives $10,000, of which $5,000 is directly awarded to the teacher. The other $5,000 is to be used at his or her discretion for professional development or instructional technology. The grants are awarded through the Richardson ISD Excellence in Education Foundation, the Plano ISD Education Foundation and the Dallas Education Foundation.

"To compete in today's global economy, students must leave school with a solid education in the STEM disciplines and a sense of excitement about what's possible when they use those skills," said Sam Self, chairman of the TI Foundation.  "With these awards, we're recognizing teachers who are challenging their students to develop those skills."

Principals nominate teachers for the STEM awards based on criteria, such as demonstrating and documenting teaching effectiveness, establishing classroom innovation, participating in education activities outside the classroom, and encouraging curiosity and increasing interest in STEM subjects among students.  Teams within each district review the applications and make classroom observations.  A list of finalists is then submitted to the districts' foundations, and winners are selected.  School district officials, community leaders and inductees from previous years attend the award ceremony along with TI corporate and foundation leaders.

The 10 TI Foundation STEM Award recipients for 2011 are:

  • Willy Flores, Hillcrest High School, Dallas ISD, who teaches high school pre-calculus and geometry. Flores uses real-life examples to create interest in and questions about the underlying math concepts. In the classroom, students discuss subjects, such as bridges, construction, sports, and music and then tie those topics to geometry concepts.
  • Kathy Fritz, Plano West Senior High School, Plano ISD, who teaches Advanced Placement statistics. In the classroom, Fritz's enthusiasm for math is contagious as she provides interactive simulations to engage students. Besides being an energetic, vibrant role model for her students, Fritz presents at national at Advanced Placement workshops, mentors news teachers in the district and assists the curriculum team.
  • Jason Hogan, Sunset High School, Dallas ISD, who teaches eleventh- and twelfth-grade physics. Hogan creates exploration activities that allow students to discover concepts for themselves by performing experiments of their own devising. His goal is to create a sense of disequilibrium that eventually leads to the "Aha!" moments when students gain a thorough understanding of physics principles.
  • Toni C. Legg, Robert T. Hill Middle School, Dallas ISD, who teaches seventh-grade science. Legg has taken her passion for science and developed unique rapport with her students to create an ideal learning environment where students thrive and seek to excel -- even competing with each other to see who can achieve the highest grade on homework assignments.
  • John Long, Woodrow Wilson High School, Dallas ISD, who teaches high school biology. Since Long started teaching Advanced Placement biology three years ago, the number of students taking the class has more than doubled – a testament to his innovative teaching skills, proactive engagement, and devotion to his students.
  • Karen McNeil, Bowman Middle School, Plano ISD, who teaches middle school science and serves as the department chair. On many occasions, the school district has brought in teachers from other Plano middle schools to watch McNeil teach to model how to set up and implement a successful science classroom. As a result, many of the innovative techniques used in her classroom are now being implemented across the district.
  • Bennett O'Connor, T. Garza Early College High School, Dallas ISD, who teaches high school science. A trained scientist, O'Connor strives to explain the basic principles of chemistry and biochemistry behind the high-tech science and engineering trends of our time. Recently, he served as one of the 80 panelists chosen out of 600 nominees nationwide to set the science standards for the 12th Science National Assessment of Educational Progress Advancement level meeting. The results were published in the nation's report card on science in America.
  • Kelley Tackett, Berkner High School, Richardson ISD, who teaches Pre-AP algebra. "The Line Project" is just one of Tackett's many engaging classroom activities that empower students to discover math concepts in an unconventional manner. Students are required to draw a picture on graph paper using straight lines, write an equation for each line used in their picture, and develop a program for the calculator that will re-create their original drawing.
  • Janetta Taylor, Emmett J. Conrad High School, Dallas ISD, who teaches high school technology and engineering. It is not uncommon to see Taylor's students using a band saw, building rockets or exploring nature outside for their lessons. She has volunteered many hours beyond the regular school day to help students develop exciting projects, such as an online radio station and video games.
  • Scheryl Woodward, Yvonne A. Ewell Townview, Dallas ISD, who teaches web mastery and multimedia. Woodward is described as a "change agent" at her school. She helps students grow from lacking basic computer skills to structuring major multi-media presentations and web designs.


The STEM Awards are one of many initiatives of the TI Foundation, which has played a leadership role in driving innovative education programs for decades.  Education is the Foundation's primary philanthropic focus, with grants specifically enhancing STEM education and supporting effective teaching.

"We believe that promoting effective teaching presents the greatest opportunity for improving student achievement in STEM education," Self said.

Note to Editors:  Photos from the awards reception will be available September 14.

About the Texas Instruments Foundation

The Texas Instruments Foundation, founded in 1964, is a non-profit organization providing philanthropic support for educational and charitable purposes primarily in the communities where Texas Instruments operates.

Committed to supporting educational excellence, the foundation works to create measurable, replicable programs and initiatives. The focus is on providing knowledge, skills and programs to improve STEM education and increase the percentage of high school graduates who are math and science capable.  More information can be found at http://www.ti.com/education and http://www.givingprograms.com/ti/default.aspx

SOURCE Texas Instruments Foundation