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Waco ISD announces 2019-2020 District Teachers of the Year

The 2019-2020 Waco ISD Teacher of the Year process began this past October when campuses nominated and selected the teacher that would represent them as their campus’ Outstanding Teacher.  Twenty-five elite educators were selected and honored in the Outstanding Teacher Ceremony held December 3 at Waco High School’s Richfield Performing Arts Center.  This select group was then invited to submit an application to be considered for Waco ISD’s district-wide Teacher of the Year. 

The announcements for both the elementary and secondary district Teacher of the Year, as well as the Virginia DuPuy First-Year Teachers of the Year, were made May 7 via surprise visits to the respective campuses with district officials, campus staff and honorees in attendance.

Elementary & Secondary Teachers of the Year

Waco ISD’s 2019-2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year is Jonathan Cambambia, a 4th through 6th grade social studies and English/language arts teacher at Lake Air Montessori Magnet School.  Cambambia, lovingly known was Mr. C., is a proud product of Waco ISD schools where he has taught for six years in the same building he attended as a middle school student. 

When asked about his philosophy of teaching, Cambambia explained, “I am passionate about teaching at Waco ISD because I have the opportunity to impact my students’ lives through making personal connections to what they are reading.” 

According to Stephanie Tankersley, principal at Lake Air, “We have watched Mr. C. grow so much over the years, starting out as a teacher’s assistant, to now being an established shining star who believes in each student’s potential to grow and learn.”

Waco ISD’s 2019-2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year is Julie Richardson, a 9th through 12th grade resource and special education co-teacher who works in a credit recovery classroom at Waco High School.  Richardson has taught for 14 years and has held her current position for the past three. 

When asked why she became a teacher, Richardson said, “I teach because I am motivated by my students to bring my best so they can be their best.” 

James Stewart, principal at Waco High School, described Richardson as, “Selfless.  She is constantly giving of herself whether it’s time, wisdom or love to help students and people in general.  She is truly a shining star and cares for the well-being of our students and the Waco High School community!”   

Cambambia and Richardson will have the opportunity to submit their applications to become the 2021 Region 12 Teacher of the Year.

Jonathan Cambambia-Elementary Teacher of the Year

Jonathan Cambambia, Lake Air Montessori Magnet School - Waco ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year

Julie Richardson-Secondary Teacher of the Year

L to R: Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent; Julie Richardson, Waco High School - Waco ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year; James Stewart, Waco High School principal

Virginia DuPuy First-Year Teachers of the Year

The Virginia DuPuy First-Year Teacher of the Year award, established by Waco ISD nine years ago, is given to a “rising star” who is new to the teaching profession.  The award is named for Virginia DuPuy, both a former teacher and former mayor, and one of Waco’s strongest and most well-known education advocates. 

Waco ISD’s 2019-2020 Virginia DuPuy First-Year Elementary Teacher of the Year is Cassandra Benjamin, a first grade teacher at West Avenue Elementary School.  John Weeks, principal at West Avenue said, “Mrs. Benjamin has a tremendous attitude and energy that is contagious throughout the entire building and carries it into her classroom.”

Waco ISD’s 2019-2020 Virginia DuPuy First Year Secondary Teacher of the Year is Charidy Lee, a 9th grade Algebra I teacher at University High School.  Haily Rambo, University’s Dean of Instruction said, “Ms. Lee’s magic is in her ability to be a constant, predictable source of support for students.  She is lovingly persistent and pestering to students who are not reaching their full potential.”

Cassandra Benjamin-1st Year Elementary Teacher of the Year

Cassandra Benjamin, West Avenue Elementary School - Virginia DuPuy First-Year Elementary Teacher of the Year

Charidy Lee-1st Year Secondary Teacher of the Year

L to R: Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent; Charidy Lee, University High School - Virginia DuPuy First-Year Secondary Teacher of the Year; Dr. Ricky Edison, University High School principal

Enjoy a video of the surprise announcements!

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 Waco ISD Teachers of the Year!