Amber Simpson doesn't teach just one class at Barrera Veterans Elementary School—she helps drive instruction for the entire building. As a TAP master teacher, she is a vital part of the school's TAP leadership team, sharing duties with the administrators and fellow master and mentor teachers.
The rural school, which serves a predominantly Latino high-poverty population, has been implementing TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement for three years through its partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.
As such, Simpson works with teachers of students from kindergarten through fourth grade. She helps facilitate weekly professional development meetings, during which she coaches faculty on systematically tracking their students' progress and developing action plans to reinforce strengths and address areas of improvement. This work is complemented by observing educators in the classroom, modeling and testing new instructional techniques, introducing curriculum and assessing students' learning along the way.
Through the staff’s effort with the instructional model, Barrera has received the highest state accountability rating of Met Standard. Equally important is that students are achieving more than a year's worth of value-added growth as compared to similar schools throughout the state.
Simpson, who served as a team lead and TAP mentor teacher before becoming a master teacher, relishes her role as a resource for her colleagues. In addition to the meaningful guidance that she provides, she makes presentations each year at the orientation for new teachers and hosts several site visits from other TAP schools to share and maximize the impact of effective best practices. Beyond the school, Simpson serves on several district curriculum committees and mentors new TAP master teachers in the district.
Well-known in the community and respected by parents, Simpson provides one-on-one tutoring for students, with whom she develops long-term relationships. She motivates students to excel in school, encourages them to plan for college and attends their graduation ceremonies. Simpson's former students return often to Barrera to share their successes with her.
Simpson earned a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies in 1999 from Texas State University, and a master's in educational leadership in 2014 from Concordia University.
"The Award brought a lot of pride and excitement to our students. They got to meet the governor of Texas, a memory they'll have..." (read more)
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