3 UHCL alumni win Teacher of the Year award in local school districts

May 23, 2022 | UHCL Staff

Teachers of the Year
From left, Alexandria Hernandez, Katelyn Sanders and Jamie Martinez, all UHCL alumni, said relevant coursework taught by invested professors were the key elements to their successful teaching careers.

Three University of Houston-Clear Lake alumni from the College of Education were voted Teacher of the Year by their respective colleagues for the 2021-22 school year. Jamie Martinez and Katelyn Sanders, both Clear Creek Independent School District teachers, and Dickinson I.S.D. kindergarten teacher Alexandria Hernandez, were recognized with the award last month.

Each teacher said that impactful, relevant coursework taught by invested, caring professors were the key elements to their success.

Martinez, who is in her sixth year teaching fourth grade English at Armand Bayou Elementary, said her coursework prepared her in every way for her classroom- except to unjam the copy machine. "I can't do that," she joked. "But when I talk to my colleagues at school, they tell me their college experiences weren't the same as mine. UH-Clear Lake prepared me so well, especially the ESL supplemental classes, which were some of my favorite classes. Those strategies and techniques were a differentiator for me, and they had a lot to do with me getting this award. They have a lot to do with how well I can support my students."

She said everything she learned in her classes at UHCL were immediately applicable in her classroom. "My degree helped me with anything I would have taught," she said. "I had so many great professors. The courses I took that were geared toward the non-mainstream learner were the most helpful."

Sanders, who teaches math at Brookside Elementary, said she'd received hands-on experience through methods courses and had an internship program that offered her tangible feedback. "Some of my key courses were in classroom management, who taught us through pure modeling and example," she said. "I still use all (Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction) Kent Divoll's methods of classroom management."

She said she was currently enrolled at UHCL for a second degree. "I'm working toward my Master of Science in Educational Management Leadership with Principal Certification," she said. "I came back because of the education program. I felt I had received a phenomenal experience in my undergraduate courses, and so it was the logical step for me to return to continue my education in a place where I'm comfortable."

Alexandria Hernandez has taught at Calder Elementary School in Dickinson I.S.D. for her entire four-year career and said she'd always known she wanted to be a teacher. "I always loved my teachers and wanted to be like them," she said. "I love my time in my classroom. That's where my heart is."

She agreed that her classroom management class was among her most useful during her time at UHCL. "That's what gave me the most preparation for my real classroom," she said. "My other most memorable class was my social studies methods course, which taught me how to integrate social studies, history and the importance of citizenship into other areas."

Hernandez said she'd recommend UHCL to anyone considering a career as an educator. "I feel like I got more out of taking the classes than doing an alternative certification program", she said. "I got to have a lot of experiences in classes at different grade levels and I found my calling and I found the age level I felt pulled to. If I decide to go back and get my master's, it'll be to UHCL."

For more information about undergraduate and graduate degree options in the College of Education at UHCL, go online.