Cerelia Diaz, a first-year teacher at Treasure Hills Elementary, is the recipient of the 2017 National Student Teacher of the Year Award presented by Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).
Diaz who is now certified as a Bilingual Generalist for early childhood through sixth-grade classrooms graduated from Texas A&M University–Kingsville just this year. She spent her spring 2017 semester student teaching at Wilson Elementary School – this laid the groundwork for her receipt of this prestigious award.
“I am extremely honored and greatly appreciative of having been chosen as the 2017 KDP/ATE National Student Teacher of the Year,” said Diaz. “To be awarded this accomplishment by educators in our profession of the highest caliber, and among many deserving applicants, is heartfelt. I am humbled to represent my university, district, school, and family.”
As part of the application process, Diaz submitted the lesson “Figurative Language—Idioms,” which she taught to a fifth-grade class.
Diaz’s passion for teaching and personal connection with her students is evident in the words they use to describe her, “enthusiastic, kind, generous, and motivated.”
“Understanding the diverse learning interests of my students and expressing a genuine concern and caring for each student is the first priority,” Diaz said. She wants students to “take ownership of the learning that is taking place, developing their own personal strength of creative and critical thinking skills.”
Diaz also expressed her gratitude for her mentor at Wilson Elementary for allowing her to immerse herself in the world of teaching.
“Sally Posada let me take over the whole class as if it were my own,” she said. “She welcomed me and said you be the teacher; you practice it. I am indebted to her.”
Mary Atkinson who has 40 years of experience in education was Diaz’s student teaching field supervisor and saw first-hand her innovative ideas take shape in the classroom.
“Her classroom comes alive as she strives to understand her students’ social and emotional needs and individual learning styles,” said Atkinson. “Innovation and research-based best practices—including technology integration—are a huge part of her repertoire of teaching strategies.”
Dr. Paul Paese, Dean and Professor in the School of Education at the University of St. Thomas, and member of the review panel for this award, shared, “I was very impressed with Cerelia’s teaching. Her lesson was well-organized, [had] integrated technology, and saw high student engagement and enthusiasm.”
Since the award’s establishment in 1994, KDP and ATE have named a very select few from around the United States as National Student Teacher/Intern of the Year. The award recognizes one student teacher/intern annually who has demonstrated the ability to plan and develop classroom management skills and instructional strategies that support all students; establish interpersonal relationships with students, parents, faculty, and staff; and reflect powerfully on their student teaching experience. Award winners are acknowledged with a $1,500 scholarship award.