Corey Haughton, a Pilot Point first-grade and gifted and talented teacher, is among 18 Outstanding Teacher of the Year region award recipients being recognized at the upcoming Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Professional Development Conference.
The conference, scheduled Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Austin, will acknowledge the region recipients and David Sebek of the Fort Bend school district, the state Outstanding Teacher of the Year recipient. Recipients for top parent, advocate and rising star teacher awards will also be recognized at the conference.
On Nov. 9 in a special presentation at the Pilot Point school board meeting, Haughton's selection as the Region 11 TAGT Outstanding Teacher of the Year was recognized. A TAGT representative presented her with a plaque marking the achievement.
"It was an honor to have received it, especially if it's just something you enjoy doing," Haughton said. "That just makes it even nicer."
TAGT recognizes outstanding teachers for their service and commitment to gifted education.
Haughton has taught nine years at Pilot Point Elementary School. Prior to moving to Texas, she taught kindergarten, first and fourth grades on the East Coast.
The last seven years, Haughton has also led a summer science camp in Pilot Point for first- through sixth-grade students.
Her drive as an educator, she said, is fueled by making each day count. A cancer survivor, Haughton said she strives to make a difference.
She said she wants her class to be one that students remember years from now.
On any typical day in her classroom, students are found starting the morning with a series of songs that teach the calendar and seasons, U.S. states and capitals, U.S. presidents, continents and oceans, planets and the number of moons that circle them, and the U.S. Constitution preamble. The songs, she said, give students a reference point to things they'll learn throughout school.
Throughout the day, students learn core subjects and are challenged to solve problems.
It's also not uncommon for Haughton's students and camp attendees to meet with special guests such as state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, who's visited to speak with students about how bills are created, military veterans who share their experiences and other experts who discuss a variety of topics related to what's being taught in the classroom or science camp.
"You bring opportunities to these kids and it's endless the opportunities of their occupations," Haughton said.
Haughton said she also encourages her students to seek out ways to assist those affected by tragedy. Over the years, Haughton's classes have raised thousands of dollars for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and patients at Cook Children's Medical Center. Out of tragedy, she said she seeks to teach students to become problem solvers.
"Seeing them when they come in, they're just babies … and they're having a hard time with their name - they're timid," she said of new classes starting the school year. "By this time of year … they are in control of their classroom."
"I take pride in seeing them mature," she said.
It's not a feat Haughton takes credit for all on her own, she said.
"It takes a good principal, a good team, good parents to make it all work, and I pray often … for ideas. I do think God has given me the ability to figure kids out and make learning fun," she said. "He gives me the ideas, the energy, the help and the desire."
Letters from a Pilot Point student, administrator and parent submitted with the nomination packet for the region award described Haughton's love of politics, military, history, science and community involvement and how she shares those loves with students, said Tracy Weinberg, TAGT associate director.
Haughton's philosophy for teaching, also included in the region nomination packet, described her desire for showing students why what she teaches them in the classroom matters. She wrote that she wants to teach her students how to teach themselves and give them the necessary tools for becoming lifelong learners.
"If children love learning, they will love coming to school; they will love study; they will ultimately love their work; they will learn to love, understand and appreciate their family; they will learn to love, understand, and appreciate their community, and they will learn to love, understand and appreciate who they are, why they are here, and what they should be doing," Haughton wrote. "Education should build good, inquisitive people not skilled test takers. I intend to help create thousands of little questioning minds who want to know how everything works, why it should work and how to do it better."
Superintendent Glenn Barber said there are so many good things to say about Haughton, but there's no way to get them all said. He said it was nice to see her dedication to students, her school and the district acknowledged.
"Mrs. Haughton is one of our star teachers and she is an inspiration to all the other teachers," Barber said. "She's dedicated to her kids … day and day out, and she's a delight to have as a teacher."
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .