The district’s new Teachers of the Year are Terri Doherty of Ridgecrest Elementary and Jonathan Claydon of Northbrook High, who teaches calculus and pre-calculus. They both received a $1,000 cash prize made possible through the generous local support of Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital and First Community Credit Union.
In a new event setting, the two winners, district Teacher of the Year Finalists and big group of SBISD retirees were all honored on field at Minute Maid Park before Tuesday evening’s Houston Astros-Atlanta Braves game. The Astros won 8-3.
As a part of the change, the district’s yearly Service Awards celebration honoring retirees and employees with service-year recognitions included a fun, pre-game reception in Union Station. Hundreds of SBISD employees attended the reception and received Astros tickets and pre-loaded food vouchers for event use.
The game’s start put everyone on their feet cheering as the Astros’ Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back home runs during a five-run first inning. The team’s win Tuesday was the seventh in nine games, for a 22-11 season opening.
SBISD Superintendent Scott Muri presented Gold Apple awards in gift bags for Doherty and Claydon during a brief, on-field announcement that played larger than life on the Jumbo Tron screen above the third baseline ceremony. Board Member Josef Klam represented Trustees on the field Tuesday evening.
Elementary Teacher of the Year Terri Doherty, a 17-year teacher at Ridgecrest, holds a bachelor of science degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland in physical education. She earned her master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Houston.
Early Wednesday morning, Doherty was watching fourth-graders as they clocked outdoor track miles in the school’s Marathon Kids program, supported through a grant from the Oliver Foundation’s Healthy Choices program.
Keeping mileage logs for the third- and fourth-grade students is one of dozens of student-based programs that she helps operate at this large SBISD elementary.
“This is an incredible recognition for Ridgecrest,” she said. “Everyone here really works hard, and we are such a family, I could not receive this award without the people here and the support they have for what we do. And it’s also a great, big recognition for the work done by so many in SBISD Health Fitness.”
At the family level, she won new respect from her husband, Rich Doherty. “He said, ‘You were on the Jumbotron!’” Doherty recalls, joking.
Doherty’s award is the first in recent memory won by a Ridgecrest educator. As such, it’s a big deal for campus community and neighborhood.
“All of Ridgecrest is incredibly proud that Terri has won this honor. She truly does exemplify the best of both Ridgecrest Elementary and the district. She’s dedicated to educating the whole child by providing our students positive experiences in and out of school that promote a healthy body and mind,” Principal Michelle Garcia said.
“She genuinely cares about our community, and she goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their overall wellness. We are so proud of her!”
Northbrook High’s Jonathan Claydon has taught eight years at the high school. He is no stranger to educational awards, being named as a state-level finalist with the highly competitive Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching two years ago. Also in 2015, the University of Houston featured him as a Young Alumni Profile standout.
Claydon earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from UH in 2006, graduating cum laude with university honors. He worked in construction planning and management for several years, but found his real passion in teaching calculus and promoting math to teenagers, many of whom have a limited knowledge of its possible academic and career importance.
“I have a unique approach to math education,” Claydon says of his philosophy. “My students do not listen to lectures. My students produce something every day. My students do well because they know I believe in their ability to do well.”
On Tuesday, his students took the Advanced Placement test in calculus, the same day Claydon was named district Teacher of the Year. By Wednesday morning, the news was already “been-there, heard-that” with his students, who were taking it easy by calculating 20 percent down payments on first homes and monthly costs associated with home ownership, based on Google’s top rated sites.
“They are over it,” he said of his award, chuckling, “but it is a nice validation for me for the work that is involved with my students. Teacher of the Year is a neat way to be recognized for the work we do every day.”
He was surprised by the sudden announcement of his name on the baseball field, but had a feeling that something might be up when he was told to stand adjacent to Doherty, the elementary-level finalist. His parents were in the stands watching, and his phone blew up with congratulatory texts much of the night.
On Wednesday, Principal Randolph Adami was one of his first classroom visitors. The high school has now had back-to-back Teacher of the Year winners, which is rare from a district historical view. A math colleague, Amanda Tysor, was named secondary Teacher of the Year last year.
At Northbrook, where he finds time to help coach ninth-grade soccer, Claydon is well known for his large, digital classroom screens and emphasis on small group student projects. His students learn by doing and working together.
During his yearly Sidewalk Chalk Day, more than 250 pre-calculus and calculus students decorate the school walkways with images of graphed functions, polar equations or slope regions. A drone snapped aerial photographs from up above this year.
Claydon blogs about students’ projects and he has presented curriculum ideas and updates to math educators, both locally and nationally, online and at math conferences. His enthusiasm for math has even generated a coveted student T-shirt at Northbrook.
“Jonathan is a highly innovative, student-centered teacher who makes learning both fun and real for his students,” Principal Randolph Adami said. “Whether his class is working outside while he films them with a drone or inside at their team tables, Mr. Claydon’s students are able to engage in true real-world learning. He creates a positive learning environment for some of our highest performing students. He is exactly the type of teacher parents want for their children.”
As district Teachers of the Year, Doherty and Claydon will represent SBISD next in regional competition. If successful, they will compete at state and national levels.
SBISD’s Teacher of the Year Finalists receive a framed certificate and a cash prize of $250. This year’s finalists included Rebecca Ramey of Rummel Creek and Amy Griffith of Meadow Wood at the elementary level and Stephanie Mosley of Memorial High School and Ali Robbins of Spring Forest Middle School.
Named earlier this year as the district Principals of the Year were Stefanie Spencer of Sherwood Elementary School and Spring Branch Middle School’s leader, Bryan Williams.
The district this year is honoring about 100 retirees, who will be honored during a separate recognition at the May 22 Board of Trustees regular meeting. That event will be conducted at Memorial High School due to potential large crowd capacity.
Combined, these educators and supporting staff represent thousands of years in public education and in service to SBISD students and families.
The Union Station reception and Houston Astros event was coordinated by SBISD Community Relations and Communications teams with special event coordination by Becky Wuerth, who serves as SBISD Customer Services & Community Relations Program Specialist.