When Joanna Bacon was named Student Teacher of the Year by Stephen F. Austin University, it was an omen of things to come for this kindergarten teacher and grade-level chair at San Antonio's West Avenue Elementary School. Bacon developed assessments for kindergartners aligned with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). She maintains high expectations for all students at this school where the population is 92 percent Hispanic and many students are learning English as a second language. She tailors instruction to individual needs and uses music plus movement to create a lively learning environment. Since the district requires 90 minutes of math daily for all students—even kindergartners—Bacon developed classroom math centers that are lesson-driven and develop conceptual understanding. Active, hands-on learning experiences abound; for example, a life science lesson on predator/prey relationships transforms students into ladybugs, flying around school with red wings to search for paper aphids. Children also keep math journals and solve open-ended math problems using real-world examples. By year's end, all students are at or above grade level for reading and writing, with many at first- or second- grade levels. Bacon is the school's lead mentor for new teachers and campus technology chair. Teachers districtwide visit her classroom to observe. On Saturdays, Bacon teaches math to fifth graders and volunteers to tutor older students for TAKS preparation, all evidence of Joanna Bacon's devotion to achievement for learners of all ages.
2002 Stephen F. Austin State University, B.S.