Special to The Dallas Examiner
DeSoto Early College High School teacher Cora Garner showed excellence in instruction and student engagement amid the pandemic. Her efforts earned her a spot as one of 15 educators in the state who received the Humanities Texas 2020 Outstanding Early Career Teaching Award, which recognizes exemplary K-12 Humanities teachers for excellence in education.
Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment of Humanities that has awarded teachers for their educational excellence for more than 30 years and whose mission is to improve the quality of classroom teaching through programs, exhibits and professional development,as well as their support of libraries and museums, and by providing learning opportunities for lifelong learning for Texans of all ages.
Garner was noted for her consistent ability to engage with her students whether they are learning online or in the classroom, by Humanities Texas Senior Programs Officer Sam Moore, during the ceremony held at the September DeSoto ISD School Board virtual meeting.
“Winning this award is no small feat. Each year, we receive over 500 nominations from qualified educators across the state,” Moore said. “To be one of the 15 educators chosen to receive an award means you cannot just be qualified, you have to be outstanding and Ms. Garner is.”
Moore shared that Garner and the Early College High School will receive a certificate and a monetary award of $5,000 and $1,000, respectively.
With less than three years of experience as an educator, Garner was celebrated for her positive student impact.
“She leaves an indelible mark on her students teaching them about Humanities and the significant role that it can play in their lives to help them understand both themselves and others,” Moore said. “She goes above and beyond to make sure they are connected and invested in their learning with spectacular great outcomes.”
One of her Garners’ students, Lauren Weaver, watched the virtual ceremony with her mom, Shelonda Weaver. She shared her resounding concurrence with this recognition for Garner based on her current experience of navigating the course content each week.
“She deserves it,” the student exclaimed. “When I log in on my computer on B-day, I know that my work will be waiting for me. It is easy to understand and she makes learning fun and interesting for me. As an English I student and a freshman learning from home, I appreciate her for being organized.”
Weaver has experienced the instructional excellence of Garner with her older children, who are now graduates. She shared that she made sure her younger daughter was in her class this year.
“I was so excited to share in this incredible moment when she was given the Humanities Texas Award and I am glad that the district is recognizing the exemplary work that she is doing,” Weaver acknowledged. “She made sure our twins, as freshmen, had all their work setup and gave them guidance. Now, she is doing the same for our youngest daughter who is entering her freshman year. English I can be challenging, but she is making it a great experience for her.”
In an earlier conversation, Weaver also shared her appreciation for the extra steps that Garner has taken to ensure student success during virtual learning. She expressed that Garner has gone the extra mile of sending a detailed email to the parents of her students on the weekend to ensure that they are also aware of the assignments and lessons of the week.
Weaver’s older daughter, Rachel Weaver, a recent DHS 2020 graduate, also congratulated Garner and spoke of her passion for student achievement prior to becoming a teacher.
“I had Ms. Cora my freshman year and she was one of my teaching assistants. She always made learning fun and easy for us. We were all so happy when she became a teacher. It has been amazing to see all of the awards and recognition she has received,” Rachel Weaver said. “She loves teaching and working with students and gave us community service opportunities if we needed them.”
The DeSoto Early College High School campus, led by Dr. Labotta Taylor, was also awarded for cultivating an atmosphere for teachers to flourish and thrive in this field of study. The campus will receive funds to purchase humanities-based instructional materials.
“I am thankful to Humanities Texas for honoring the DeSoto Early College High School campus and our teacher, Ms. Cora Garner,” Taylor said. “Ms. Garner is an outstanding instructor and this award is well-deserved. I commend her for this achievement as she continues her journey of educational excellence.”
Cora Garner shared her appreciation for the team of educators and district leaders, past and present, who helped prepare her to achieve this milestone in her career.
“I am thankful for Humanities Texas for recognizing and rewarding teachers like myself who are committed to student achievement and academic excellence even in a virtual setting,” she said. “I am thankful for all those who supported my endeavors, coached, and empowered me to become a teacher leader in DeSoto ISD.”