TSTA member is the new Texas Teacher of the Year

Ramon Benavides, a biology teacher from Ysleta ISD in El Paso and member of the Ysleta Teachers Association, was named the 2022 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. He also was chosen to represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition, which also gives him the title of 2022 Texas Teacher of the Year.

Jennifer Han, a fourth-grade teacher in McAllen ISD in the Rio Grande Valley, was named the 2022 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.

The announcements were made during surprise visits to the teachers’ campuses by representatives of the Texas Association of School Administrators, which conducts the Teacher of the Year competition.

Both state-level winners will receive a cash award and a commemorative trophy. They will be honored, along with the other finalists and regional Teachers of the Year, in Austin during the TASA Midwinter Conference Jan. 30–Feb. 2.

One of the other finalists, Sanford Jeames, is a member of Education Austin. Jeames is the coordinator of health science programs at Eastside Memorial Early College High School in Austin ISD and an adjunct professor at Huston-Tillotson University.

Benavides has been passionately sharing what he calls the “fascinating world of biology” for the past 12 years with students at Del Valle High School in Ysleta ISD and El Paso Community College. He is the son of migrant farmworkers who dropped out of school at a young age but later returned to school and became educators in the Rio Grande Valley.

He says his parents’ journey was the beginning of his. He enjoys serving as a role model for youth with socioeconomic and educational attainment obstacles similar to those he encountered growing up in South Texas.

Benavides holds a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a bachelor of arts in chemistry from the University of Texas at Brownsville, and a master of arts in teaching science from the University of Texas at El Paso. He is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Texas Tech University.

He is a member of several state and national professional organizations, has been published in two publications and has participated in several research internships with Rice University and UTEP. As a national STEM advocate, he recognizes the importance of equity and inclusion in all STEM classrooms and wants to deliver a message of change so that more “underrepresented students attain a fair chance at success in STEM professions.”

The winners and other finalists were selected from the 40 Texas Regional Teachers of the Year. Find more information here.