Teacher wins national award
UH graduate student Jason Spencer received the Texas Student Teacher of the Year award from the Texas Directors of Field Experiences, as well as the National Student Teacher of the Year award from the Association of Teacher Educators/Kappa Delta Pi for his exceptional teaching plans at Lamar High School.
‘I am flattered and honored to receive the awards; it is very surreal,’ Spencer said. ‘I think to myself it almost seems like a fairy tale.’
Spencer wanted to make every day at Lamar count with a good work ethic and positive relationships with the kids.
‘ ‘Hopefully, some of that is evident in the video that I shot that won the award,’ Spencer said. ‘I am all about relationships and respect in the classroom.’
Student teacher supervisor Geraldine Manlove nominated Spencer for the award after she observed him in his classroom at Lamar.
‘The minute I saw him in the classroom I knew he was somebody special,’ Manlove said. ‘I just encouraged him to persevere and he did a remarkable job.’
Manlove encouraged Spencer to fill out the application and record a 30-minute unedited video.
Spencer included music, group activities and a PowerPoint presentation.’ At the end of the lesson, he included a Jeopardy-style game he had created.
‘The reason I think I won it is because [of] the student relationships and how I approached them (the students),’ Spencer said. ‘If you want respect you have to show it, and I build that over the semester.’
‘ Spencer currently teaches international baccalaureate English at Lamar High School to juniors and seniors.
‘As a beginner teacher it is also an honor to be selected to teach international baccalaureate English for seniors,’ Manlove said. ‘(Spencer) is a very remarkable person, talented, and his love for students as well as his love for teaching is very remarkable.’
The international baccalaureate program is a rigorous academic course from Switzerland, the goal of which is to give students a global perspective to an international education.
‘We try to make students understand different perspectives,’ Spencer said. ‘I feel old enough to know how to be a guardian or a guide, but I am also still young enough where I can talk with them about Grey’s Anatomy or the latest hip hop artist.’
Lamar High School English teacher Kay Haymond was Spencer’s mentor, and she gave him the opportunity to teach her students as she guided him through the experience.
‘Teaching is a very demanding profession and (Haymond) helped me and pushed me along,’ Spencer said. ‘I am very grateful because it turned out to be quite a success.’
Spencer is traveling to San Antonio in October to receive the 2009 Texas Student Teacher of the Year award, and then will leave for Orlando to accept the National Student Teacher award.
‘My advice for students is to be ready for change and be willing to adapt to that change,’ Spencer said. ‘As long as you desire to put yourself out there, the sky is the limit.’