Anthony Smith-Wright, a fifth-grade teacher at Eastern Hills Elementary School, and Vanida Chanthaphone, who teaches seventh and eighth-graders at William Monnig Middle School, were announced as the 2021 elementary and secondary honorees. (Fort Worth ISD)

Fort Worth ISD announced its 2021 Elementary and Secondary District Teachers of the Year at a festive virtual celebration this week that recognized the best of the best in the District.

Anthony Smith-Wright, a fifth-grade teacher at Eastern Hills Elementary School, and Vanida Chanthaphone, who teaches seventh and eighth-graders at William Monnig Middle School, were announced as the 2021 elementary and secondary honorees, respectively. Due to safety protocols, there was no awards dinner for the announcement, but the well-attended virtual event celebrated the winners as well as eight other Campus Teacher of the Year winners who were finalists for the District award. 

Within minutes of the announcement, their photos and names were posted on the district’s two large electronic billboards – at the intersection of Lancaster and University Drive at Farrington Field, and along Interstate 20 at Herman Clark Stadium, 5201 Ca Roberson Blvd.

Smith-Wright teaches fifth-grade science and social studies at Eastern Hills Elementary. He has a master’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University and bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught four years.  A high-performing student growing up, Mr. Smith-Wright has also excelled in his career. His students achieved an 81% passing rate on the STAAR science exam his first year of teaching. He became the fifth-grade team lead in his second year of teaching. He joined the district science curriculum team shortly after his first year of teaching.

Smith-Wright strives to empower students to be successful.

“I enjoy helping students become more confident researchers, presenters, and creators,” he said. “It is my duty to meet students where they are and show them not only where they can go, but how they can get there.”

Vanida Chanthaphone teaches English and reading at William Monnig Middle School. She has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and has taught three years. Ms. Chanthaphone grew up the child of immigrants and did not speak English until she was 5. She loved school as a student and loves it today as a teacher. One of her proudest moments as teacher was when she helped a student who hated reading become a regular reader who enjoyed checking out books at the library.

Her childhood experiences are a reminder to make a difference each day.

“School was my safe haven growing up and education was a huge part of my life,” Chanthaphone said. “Teaching is being a mentor, advocate, and cheerleader for each student. That is what teachers were for me when I was growing up, so I try my best to follow in those footsteps.”

Both Smith-Wright and Chanthaphone will receive a $5,000 honorarium from Central Market H-E-B, the District Teacher of the Year award sponsor.

Since 1985, community businesses and organizations have partnered with Fort Worth ISD to recognize outstanding classroom teachers in our district. Annually, one teacher at each campus is nominated and elected by fellow teachers for the honor of Campus Teacher of the Year. Community judges evaluate applications from the Campus Teachers to select District winners in each category.

Secondary District Teacher of Year Finalists:

  • Ann-Denise Anderson, art, Polytechnic High School
  • Casey Kirchner, U.S. history, L. Paschal High School
  • Tobie Moser, science, Young Men’s Leadership Academy
  • TeNeal “Charlie” Metcalf, biology, Young Women’s Leadership Academy

2021 Elementary District Teacher of the Year Finalists: 

  • Brigit Lopez, physical education, Western Hills Primary 
  • Angela Ferguson, math and science, Lowery Road Elementary 
  • Olivia Olalde, fifth grade bilingual, Alice D. Contreras Elementary 
  • Mary McKinnie, elementary special education, Jo Kelly School 

Each of the eight finalists will receive a $1,500 honorarium from Central Market.

The virtual celebration was attended by Superintendent Kent P. Scribner; Fort Worth ISD Board of Education President Cinto Ramos, as well as board trustees; and special guests, H-E-B/Central Market Director, Public Affairs Mabrie Jackson and Austin Jourde, general manager of Central Market Fort Worth.

There are 10 Central Market stores in Texas and more than 420 H-E-B stores throughout Texas and Mexico. H-E-B contributes more than $10 million annually to Texas education. 

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