Michael Jackson of the Sudie L. Williams Talented and Gifted Academy was named the Choice/Magnet Principal of the Year at the inaugural Dallas ISD Educators of the Year event presented by the Dallas Education Foundation last Tuesday, along with five other award recipients.
Jackson has worked with the school since its opening four years ago. As a Dallas native and Thomas Jefferson High School alumnus, he began his career in education 22 years ago. He’s since served as a teacher, teacher mentor, basketball coach, grade-level chair, campus instruction coach, Advancement via Individual Determination coordinator, assistant principal, and most recently, principal.
He also has received a number of awards leading up to Choice/Magnet Principal of the Year, including Campus Teacher of the Year, Magnet Principal of the Year, and Master Principal designation.
Jackson’s teaching style places an emphasis on paying it forward while living by the mottos of “Give the people the light, and they will find their way,” and “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” During his tenure at Sudie L. Williams TAG Academy, it has been named the sixth-ranked elementary school in Texas by the U.S. News and World Report.
The DISD Educators of the Year event also named five other principals and teachers of the year in various categories. Wildrem Andrade Matamoros, who teaches at Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary School, was awarded teacher of the year. She moved to Dallas from Honduras to attend the elementary school as a 9-year-old, then returned 11 years later as a first-year bilingual teacher. She has initiated impactful writing and social-emotional strategies on her campus and serves as the campus activity coordinator and coach for academic teams.
The Secondary Teacher of the Year recognition went to Sara Gill, a sixth grade English Language Arts and Reading teacher at the Ann Richards STEAM Academy. She also serves as the sixth-grade representative on her school’s faculty advisory committee, a facilitator of the grade-level content professional learning community, a member of the culture committee, and has a model classroom that new teachers observe.
Aaronda Smith of the George B. Dealey Montessori and Vanguard Academy was named Choice/Magnet Teacher of the Year for her work as a reading language arts honors teacher for eighth grade. Smith has worked as a teacher in the district for 16 years and started Dealey Montessori’s debate program in 2015. On her campus, she also has worked as a campus instructional leadership team member, instructional coach, site-based decision-making team member, mentor teacher, English contact for school programs, and global awareness head for campus global studies.
The Elementary Teacher of the Year award went to Antonio Verduzco from B.H. Macon Elementary School. He is ending his fourth year as principal and 18th in Dallas ISD, and his career started as a bilingual teacher at Margaret B. Henderson Elementary. Since Verduzco took the reigns of B.H. Macon Elementary, the campus has implemented data-driven instruction to tighten gaps in student achievement. The administration has also worked with staff to provide students with more equitable education and activities such as chess and robotics clubs and an elementary Advancement Via Individual Determination program.
The Secondary Principal of the Year is Katherine Eska from North Dallas High School, who is in her fifth year on the campus. She started with the district in 2009 but took a hiatus to earn her master’s degree and serve as head of school at a turnaround public charter elementary school in Massachusetts. She returned in 2014 as principal of Kramer Elementary. Now, at North Dallas High School, she has seen an increase in academic achievement and growth in enrollment by 15%, while also overseeing the design and implementation of a $46 million bond project. The campus also became the second comprehensive high school to achieve choice school status and the first Design Thinking campus in DISD under her leadership.