On Monday, August 2, Magnolia ISD hosted its annual Convocation, kickoff to the new school year. But this year’s event included an extra special surprise thanks to Region 6 Deputy Director of Administrative Services, Brian Zemlicka. He was on hand to make the announcement that Magnolia High School English teacher, and Magnolia ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, Kristen Saldana, was named the Region 6 Teacher of the Year!
“When the committee sat down to review the applications, this one immediately rose to the top,” said Zemlicka. “There is no doubt in my mind that she is a top contender for the Texas Teacher of the Year.”
Magnolia High School English teacher, and Magnolia ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, Kristen Saldana believes that students need to be able to relate to an author’s experience in order to really connect to the message of a story, and that transcends in her classroom every day.
Saldana has been in education for over 20 years but does not define herself as an “old school” classroom.
“It is important to me that students can see themselves with the reading we do in class and I try to make learning relevant through unique classroom experiences,” said Saldana. “What the students learn from these types of activities will live on in them as they move into adulthood and into the real world.”
One of the unique lessons she has created is “Current Event FriYay” where students select a topic of discussion such as pop culture, literature, economics, etc., and then propose argumentative topics to discuss on Friday. Students not only spend time researching and understanding more about the topic but they also learn how to have civilized conversations about things they might disagree with.
Additionally, she has helped create initiatives within the school to build a more positive school culture and build stronger relationships among students and staff. Through the #LoveServeCare, teachers and students have been able to get to know each other through activities, events, tutorials, and other activities.
“This has allowed students and teachers to get to know each other more on a personal level,” said Saldana. “I can’t tell you how many students that I’ve never actually had in class will now pop in my classroom. This happens every single day and goes to show that #LoveServeCare goes both ways!”
Saldana will now move on with 40 other educators from across the state to be narrowed down to six finalists. In September, the finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges who will select an Elementary Teacher of the Year and a Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Congratulations to Kristen on this incredible honor!