Peeples Named State Teacher of Year

Peeples Named State Teacher of Year, Moves on to Nationals
TOY State WinnerOctober 24, 2014 – Palo Duro High English teacher Shanna Peeples traveled to Austin today to be recognized for her outstanding efforts in the classroom and beyond as Texas State Teacher of the Year for 2015. Not only will she represent Texas as Secondary Teacher of the Year, Peeples will also move on to the national-level program and compete alongside respected candidates from across the nation. Each fall, the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) recognizes two State Teachers of the Year – one in elementary education and one in secondary education – and four state finalists. These regional teachers represent each of the 20 Education Service Center regions in Texas.

On the first day of this school year, Peeples was surprised by staff and students with the announcement she was a finalist for the state-level program and carried through the halls of Palo Duro on a chair hoisted by district leaders. Looked up to by many as a role model and advocate, Peeples is celebrated daily by the work her students do in and out of the classroom.

“Peeples illustrates that a great teacher is first and foremost a learner. She passionately seeks to improve her craft as a teacher, and moreover, never shies away from a challenge,” Palo Duro Principal Sandy Whitlow explained. “She leads her colleagues by example and challenges us to continually and collaboratively evolve as professionals. We are elated that such a deserving teacher has been recognized for her tremendous efforts."

As part of her Teacher of the Year duties, Peeples is set to share what keeps her motivated in the classroom and advice for fellow educators at a number of events throughout the school year.

“My first principal, Lisa Loan, used to say: ‘Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ That’s always stuck with me as a reminder to form relationships above anything else, because that’s what will motivate a student and help them succeed,” said Peeples.

As Whitlow shared, “Shanna has been instrumental in leading the English department at PDHS and infuses joy into learning.” Coworker Julie Tittle said “her support, care, mercy and kindness create a safe environment” where students can explore and examine their beliefs and dreams.  A student wrote, “she treats every student who comes to her with the same mindset: everybody, no matter their background or circumstance, can reach their potential and shine.”

“Part of what keeps me motivated is viewing teaching as an art rather than just a skill. Art is messy and art takes time and art comes with built in mistakes. It’s a hard job, but you get better at it,” Peeples said. “If you switch your focus to believe in your own strengths, it’s easier to feel like you have more control over the messiness of learning.”

Amarillo ISD has a legacy of producing state finalist and state winner Teachers of the Year.

  • 1992 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year – Mary McFarland of Amarillo High School
  • 1993 State Finalist for Elementary Teacher of the Year – Donna Hill of Windsor Elementary School
  • 1995 State Finalist for Secondary Teacher of the Year – Kim Beth Buchanan of Crockett Middle School
  • 2006 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year – Cindy Lewis of Whittier Elementary School
  • 2008 State Finalist for Secondary Teacher of the Year – Vicki Mueller of Austin Middle School

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