Campus Secondary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Michael Ortiz

Michael Ortiz
The Guthrie Center for Excellence
9th through 12th Grade - Digital Filmmaking


Masters of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Texas at Arlington, Pending
Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television, and Film, University of Texas, 2008

Teaching History

The Guthrie Center for Excellence, 2010-Present

Total Years in Education - 6 Years

In his own words . . .

“Education is a gift that keeps on giving and I feel compelled to pay it forward and teach and inspire the next student who may not believe in him or herself or in what their future potential may be. When I look at some of the students that walk through my door I instantly think ‘There but for the grace of God goes I.’ And with time, patience, and some good teaching, I know I can make a positive difference in my students’ lives.

In the words of others . . .

“Some teachers get frustrated dealing with difficult students and after a while will wonder how they can get them out of their class. I’ve never heard that from Michael Ortiz. What I do hear is, ‘Hey Joe, what can I do to help this student, I’ve tried this and that with few results and need some ideas.’ Those words seem like they are from a powerful scene in an Oscar-winning film to any school administrator, and exactly what we want our own children to experience with their teachers.”
Joe Kolenda, The Guthrie Center for Excellence Director

“Mr. Ortiz persistently asked me about college applications and FAFSA, offering guidance even after I told him that I wasn’t sure I would attend college. The level of interest he showed for each of his students went far beyond his class, and his vision for my future and my colleagues’ propelled us further than we could have gone on our own willpower.”
Emily Garza, Previous Student of Mr. Ortiz


Campus Secondary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Elaine Sorsby

Elaine Sorsby
Stratford High School
9th through 12th Grade - Spanish and French

Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Texas, 1979
Master’s Level Courses in Spanish, University of Houston

Teaching History
Stratford High School, 2002-Present
Grace School, 1994-2002
Albright Middle School, 1987-1993
Katy High School, 1979-1981

Total Years in Education - 29 Years

In her own words . . .

“Every year, I tell parents at Open House night that the best thing I ever did was to leave teaching for six years and the other best thing was to come back. I enjoyed my tenure in the business world, but every August the school bell ringing tugged at my heart strings. I finally returned to teaching because leaving helped me realize that teaching and teachers matter.”

In the words of others . . .

“Elaine will say it herself that she is not the perfect classroom teacher, but she is in the trenches every day teaching whatever student whatever topic assigned. She has a heart for the lower levels and uses the introduction to foreign language as a springboard for both a love of learning and an appreciation of other cultures.”
Rachel Crain and Sarah Hayes, Stratford High School teachers

“Elaine is one of the best teachers I have had the opportunity to watch in the classroom. She is like a maestro conducting an orchestra! From having the students read the sentence out loud and make the correction using the correct pronunciation in front of the rest of the class to having students pair off and share using technology, she continually has the students engaged and discussing with each other the material needed to be learned for that day.”
Daniel Gex, Stratford High School Principal


Campus Secondary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Amanda Tysor

Amanda Tysor
Northbrook High School
Algebra 1


Bachelor of Arts in Plan II Honors, University of Texas, 2012

Teaching History

Northbrook High School, 2012-Present
Teach For America Corps member - 2012

Total Years in Education - 4 Years

In her own words . . .

“I believe that the job of a teacher is to create an environment of support so that students can take risks and learn new content as they journey toward their future. I get to be the positive adult that believes in them, cares about them and teaches them to advocate for themselves and their personal success. I create a culture in my Algebra classroom of hard work and hope for what is to come.”

In the words of others . . .

“Amanda is an outstanding teacher because she truly cares about each student as an individual and believes that all students have the ability to be successful. She is not discouraged when students struggle, whether it be with the academic content or with behavior. In every situation, she reminds students that they always have a choice to try and that she is working with them to help them be successful.”

Kimberly Abdul, Northbrook High School teacher

“Mrs. Tysor is successful in the classroom because she truly cares about students and takes time to build relationships with them. She continually strives to find and develop innovative ways to teach her students. Her classroom is probably the best managed classroom that I have observed in my twenty-one years of experience.”

Associate Principal Terry Estes, Northbrook High School


Campus Secondary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook
Spring Branch Middle School
8th Grade - Science
7th Grade - Volleyball and Soccer


Bachelor of Science in Teaching and Learning, University of Houston, 2014
Middle School Science specialization

Teaching History

Spring Branch Middle School, 2014-Present

Total Years in Education - 2 Years

In his own words . . .

“I take my students learning and behavior personally, often holding them to standards they cannot yet understand. With all this, I love. I love my class, I love science, I love my students, and I love my school.”

In the words of others . . .

“He brings to Spring Branch Middle School the skills, motivation, and positivity that he has acquired through his first few years of teaching and his education at the University of Houston. Mr. Cook is always willing to try something new in his classroom and is often two steps ahead of the game in creating innovative lessons and unique activities that engage his students.”

Lauren E. Hauver, Interdisciplinary Instructional Coach

“Jonathan always challenges himself to create lessons that will best serve the students in his class. His collaboration with his teammates sets an example for both the colleagues at his own campus, as well as other new and novice teachers across the district.”

Ro Luecken, District Science Instructional Specialist


Campus Elementary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Amanda Badrak

Amanda Badrak
Spring Shadows Elementary

3rd Grade - English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Language Arts and Social Studies

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Business Administration, University of Texas at Austin, 2011

Teaching History
Spring Shadows Elementary, 2012 – Present

Total Years in Education—5 Years

In her own words . . .

“Fostering a secure, caring, and stimulating environment has allowed my students to reach their best potential! I celebrate growth more than reading levels or report card averages. I tell my students I believe they have the ability to do well – no excuses are allowed! My belief inspires them to meet or exceed my expectations and set new goals for themselves as learners and individuals.”

In the words of others . . .

“Ms. Badrak believes every child can learn, and she holds herself and the students accountable. She treats her students as capable. They are NOT victims of their current circumstances, they are problem solvers. She acknowledges their struggles, fills physical and emotional gaps when possible, and teaches the skills necessary to overcome what they cannot control. She models and expects hard work, perseverance, grit, resilience and respect.”
- Sue Bryant, Spring Shadows Elementary Assistant Principal

“She is a true team player, willing worker, lifelong learner and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She is truly a teacher of teachers and educator in all sense of Webster’s definition. […] Amanda is one we need to duplicate. So that, she can continue to help spread the excitement and dedication in our profession.”
- Jerona Williams, Interim Administrative Services Executive Director, Prekindergarten through 12th Grade


Campus Elementary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Teresa Dolan

Teresa Dolan
Edgewood Elementary

Prekindergarten through 5th Grade, Teacher Librarian

Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Houston
 - Downtown, 2005
Masters of Arts and Teaching, University of Houston - Downtown, 2008
Masters of Library Science, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, 2015

Teaching History
Edgewood Elementary, 2014-Present
Treasure Forest Elementary, 2012-2014
Chancellor Elementary, 2006-2012

Total Years in Education—11 Years

In her own words . . .

“We must think differently about education and be willing to have a more innovative and flexible approach to how we educate children. We have to find ways to encourage this same innovative spirit in our students and inspire them to challenge themselves. They need to question the world around them and become explorers who aren’t satisfied by simple answers. As Margaret Mead famously said, ‘Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.’”

In the words of others . . .

“The Edgewood library was not an area of the school utilized at its fullest potential. As a librarian, Ms. Dolan’s role can only be described as transformational. Our library is now a place that fosters creativity, curiosity and collaboration. Thanks to Teresa’s efforts, students now clamor for library time and even volunteer to come back after school hours.”
- Vivian Pratts, Edgewood Elementary Principal

“Teresa has . . . found a way to make this library great. With Collective Greatness in mind, Teresa has written numerous grants, totally reinvented our morning broadcast system, and provided advanced technology that many of our students would never experience if it wasn’t for her.”
- Phoebe Stephenson, Edgewood Elementary Life Skills Teacher

“She does a lot of cool things for Edgewood like have Skypes to different authors and even kids from different schools. I don’t know how many times I have Skyped but I guess it is a lot because I can’t keep count. She also has a bunch of robots for programming and sometimes just messing around with. Another thing we do during library time is we play on the computers and she shows us websites that can help us for STAAR and projects. On top of that she still lets us check out books.”
- Sophia Erazo, Edgewood Elementary Fifth-Grader


Campus Elementary 2016 Teacher of the Year Finalist - Stephanie Walton

Stephanie Walton
Wilchester Elementary
Kindergarten through 5th Grade - Art


Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts Interior Design and Art Education, University of Houston, 2001
Wilchester Elementary, 2014-Present
Northbrook Middle School, 2001-2014

Teaching History

Wilchester Elementary, 2014-Present
Northbrook Middle School, 2001-2014

Total Years in Education - 15 Years

In her own words . . .

“What truly motivates me is to hear or see the moment a student gets it, no matter their age. A student that comes back to me the next day, the next year, or even years from when I had them, who tell me, ‘Do you remember teaching me XYZ?’ or ‘Look! I’ve figured out how to do it this way.’ Or, simply. . . ‘Your class made a difference.’”

In the words of others . . .

“What impresses me most about Mrs. Walton is her resolute commitment to being a lifelong learner and adjusting directly to our kid’s strengths and interests in the classroom. One example that comes to mind is how she entirely changed the theme of one of third-grader’s project to engage a reluctant student who was interested in dragons.”

Rian Evans, Wilchester Elementary Principal

“Stephanie has the gift of golden touch when it comes to engaging young students to learn. With her personality and teaching skills, Stephanie’s young art students know when it’s time to focus and to concentrate because smart art making requires thinking! Stephanie clearly fosters a warm and friendly environment, often taking the lead in school-wide initiatives and projects that involve team building.”

Joanne Frimel, Art Specialist


Spring Branch ISD