Every day, thousands of Garland ISD teachers encourage, inspire and motivate students to aim for academic success. These dedicated frontrunners work to make a difference in the lives and futures of tomorrow—and their hard work and devotion do not go unnoticed.
Toward the end of each school year, campuses select one outstanding educator to receive the coveted Campus Teacher of the Year title. This designation not only allows for bragging rights, it also comes with a commemorative gift and two Texas Rangers tickets to GISD Night at Globe Life Park.
Two of the lucky 71 are then chosen by a committee to represent the district. This year’s honors went to Weaver Elementary School’s Jessica Benitez and O’Banion Middle School’s Chris Meek.
In early May, Superintendent Bob Morrison surprised the honorees in their classrooms, presenting them a congratulatory plaque.
“I do not even know what to say. Thank you. I could not have done it without my personal and school family,” Meek said. “My students are the reason I get up every morning and come to work.”
The 12-year teacher has fulfilled his passion to help others by teaching special education, sponsoring math tutorials, creating a mentor program and spearheading uniform drives.
Benitez, a second grade teacher with two years experience, could not believe she won the District Elementary District Teacher of the Year designation.
“Are you serious?” she asked Morrison as he handed her the plaque. “I feel very unworthy. I feel that there are so many teachers in GISD that are more experienced than I am, and I learn from them daily. This is a big, big honor.”
Benitez felt compelled to thank former Weaver Principal, Jennifer Miley, whom she credits with allowing her to achieve her lifelong dream of being in a classroom. Benitez began her journey in teaching after experiencing motherhood and raising a family while her husband served in Iraq.
Meek and Benitez also received $1,000 each from the GISD Education Foundation during a May 24 board meeting recognition. They are now in the running for Region 10 Teacher of the Year.