During a dinner at the Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth ISD teachers of year nominees waited to find out who the winners were. Amanda Inay from Rufino Mendoza Elementary School and Aimee Hatch, a Daggett Montessori science teacher, won the awards this year. Here are their stories.
While growing up in Queen City, Texas, Amanda Inay had to deal with an alcoholic and drug-addicted mother.
Luckily she had grandparents to lean on, but she credits overcoming that childhood trauma by having a kindergarten teacher who cared about her well-being.
Now, Inay wants to provide that support for her students at Rufino Mendoza Elementary School.
Her first teaching job was in Fort Worth ISD, where she taught students from Stop Six. She credits this position for learning the foundation of being a good teacher.
After three years of teaching at Fort Worth ISD, she decided to take work at a private school in Southlake. She realized while students might come from different backgrounds, the trauma is the same.
“It might be my mom was on drugs for two weeks and I don’t know where she is. While my dad’s in New York for two weeks on business,” she said.
Despite that, she feels like she can resonate better with the Northside population and will move to the community once she finds a buyer for her house in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw.
“I grew up poor. My mom went to prison for drugs. So I feel like I can be an example of hope and inspiration for my students,” Inay said.
She has 16 years of teaching experience that spans various school districts, such as Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Arlington ISD and Northwest ISD.
She wanted to go back to Fort Worth ISD because she felt it was where she belonged.
Inay is still trying to process being the teacher of the year.
“I just want (students) to experience life the way I have, that you don’t have to stay where you are, that you can go places that you can do things. And if you want to stay here, that’s great. But I want you to be the best person you here,” Inay added.
Aimee Hatch didn’t find her finance job very fulfilling. She wanted to find something with more meaning.
After some encouragement from her husband, she decided to become a teacher. Fifteen years later – she is now one of the two Fort Worth ISD Teachers of the Year. She started at Cleburne ISD and helped students who fell behind. Today, she find ways to keep her Daggett Montessori science class engaged.
Hatch is passionate about making a difference in the lives of students.
“Through teaching, you’re not just impacting that one child. It’s something that they pass on through their families and their kids,” Hatch said. “It’s an impact that ripples through generations.”
While she has taught every subject throughout her teaching career, her favorite subject is science. Hatch doesn’t like to use textbooks or videos and likes to do experiments, such as building rockets and models of atoms. Hands-on learning is her favorite teaching method.
Kids naturally want to learn. It is the teacher’s job to gauge their interest and spark that, Hatch said.
“(Students) are not gonna want to read a textbook but if you put a bunch of materials in front of them and say, ‘Hey, I need you to build a rocket that’s going to go all the way up to the ceiling and back down, carrying this much mass,’ they’re in,” Hatch said.
They get competitive when they’re trying to figure the experiments out, she said.
“I get bored very easily and I know if I’m bored, the kids are bored. So I much rather be up and doing,” Hatch said. “They’re going to absorb everything.”
Her hands-on learning approach has made her the buzz of the day among students. Students from her first period would tell the others about what they’re doing in her class.
She is able to have a good relationship with her students because boundaries are set early in the school year, Hatch said.
Hatch didn’t realize how big of a deal this award was and is not used to having her face posted on social media where people recognize her, she said.
“I’m not a limelight-kind-of person. I’m happy just making the kids happy and doing my job,” Hatch said.
Other ISD District Teacher of the Year
District Teachers of the Year
Elementary- Tameika Sanchez – Kindergarten Teacher – Dan Powell Early Learning Academy
Secondary- Jose Gonzalez – Spanish Teacher – Everman High School
Elementary Teacher of the Year: Bethany Van Wart, first-grade teacher at Legacy Elementary School
Secondary Teacher of the Year: Lori Lummus, special education teacher at Godley High School
Keller ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year: Isabella Mora, Heritage Elementary School, STACC Teacher
Keller ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year: Ann Accas, Keller Compass Center, Fine Arts Teacher
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD
Elementary: Josephine Feipel, Special Education, Eagle Mountain Elementary School
Secondary: Jodi Brownlee, English, Creekview Middle School
Overall Teacher of the Year: Tiffany Stokes, Vandagriff Elementary fourth-grade teacher
Beginning Teacher of the Year: Haley Kimberling, AISD Early Childhood Academy Pre-K teacher
Elementary Teacher of the Year: Katie Nicely, Stuard Elementary special education teacher
Intermediate Teacher of the Year: Elizabeth Kuhns, Aledo Middle School 6th grade reading/language arts teacher
Secondary Teacher of the Year: Emily Arnold, Aledo High School journalism teacher
Elementary Teacher of the Year – Jessica Godfrey, Hajek Elementary
Secondary Teacher of the Year – Lucie Schellbach, Burleson High School
Lake Worth ISD
Elementary – Beatriz Paris – Marine Creek Leadership Academy – 5th Grade Teacher
Secondary – Timothy Payton – Lake Worth High School – Construction (CTE) Teacher
White Settlement ISD
Elementary District Teacher of the Year
2nd Grade Dual Language
Secondary District Teacher of the Year
Brewer High School
Honors & Dual Credit Chemistry
Elementary Teacher of the Year: Paola Morales (5th grade bilingual), Roanoke Elementary School
Secondary Teacher of the Year: Amberley Tanner (speech/communications), Steele Early College High School
Ashley Benson, music teacher at Bransford Elementary School and GCISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year
Patton Garay, science teacher at Grapevine High School and GCISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year
Tony Carnevale, instructional assistant at Grapevine Middle School and GCISD’s Paraprofessional of the Year
Tony Burnett – HEB ISD’s 2023 Secondary Teacher of the Year – teaches Public Service, Criminal Justice, and 911/Fire Academy at Buinger CTE Academy
Jamie Blankenship – HEB ISD’s 2023 Elementary Teacher of the Year – teaches Second Grade Reading at Stonegate Elementary
Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.