The Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin

PBKAAGA 2020 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients



Rebecca Cohen

Pflugerville High School

Pflugerville Independent School District


Rebecca Cohen teaches English I and pre-AP English I for freshmen and AP English III for juniors at Pflugerville High School in the Pflugerville Independent School District. In her application, Rebecca writes that she believes students learn best when given autonomy in their education. She aspires to make all of her units purposeful, geared towards real-world application, and full of student choice.  She is a strong believer in celebrating student success. Rebecca states she works hard to build relationships with students and that her “secret weapon” in forming these relationships comes through one-on-one writing conferences where her students learn she is not only invested in their education but also in them as human beings.  Ameka Hunt, Principal at Pflugerville High School, says Rebecca is an innovative teacher who creatively incorporates student interest into her lessons in an effort to build excitement and passion for learning. Assistant Principal, Marisa Ramos, writes that anytime she observed Rebecca teaching, she found herself wanting to stay longer. She says Rebecca encourages you to tap deep within and find your passion for learning.


Rebecca is a campus and district leader.  She is a new teacher mentor, AVID site team member and sponsor of the Pflugerville High School tutoring center. She also serves as the Professional Learning Community leader at Pflugerville High School and is often asked to serve on curriculum writing committees at the district level. Her principal says Rebecca is the ideal colleague, mentor, and friend to her peers. In 2018, she was named Pflugerville High School Teacher of the Year.


We are delighted to honor Rebecca Cohen as recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin 2020 Teaching Excellence Award.




Jessica Davis

James Bowie High School

Austin Independent School District


Jessica Davis teaches pre-AP Biology, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, and Anatomy and Physiology at James Bowie High School in the Austin Independent School District. In her lessons, Jessica employs a constructivist theory approach using argument-driven inquiry, learning through case-studies, and the use of brain-targeted teaching strategies. She places a strong focus on building classroom community, collaborative projects, student voice, and problem solving. In her application for this award, Jessica writes, “the primary principle that defines me as a teacher is the belief that every student has the ability to engage in complex science, especially when they feel emotionally uplifted and respected as a person.”  Erin Kowalik, Bowie High School Science Department Chair, echoes this, writing that regardless of their skill set when they enter, Jessica’s students bloom in the collaborative atmosphere of her classroom, finding joy in learning and building relationships.


It was clear from her application that Jessica stays current in her research of pedagogy and best practices, always striving to be the best she can in every endeavor. Her department chair writes that in addition to her quick wit and sense of humor, Jessica is a generous and collaborative colleague who serves as a mentor to new teachers and a team leader on campus. Carla de la Rosa, Assistant Principal at Bowie, states that Jessica is a campus leader and respected educator with strong ethics, values, and leadership skills who shows sensitivity to others and fosters collegiality.  In 2019, she was named Bowie High School Teacher of the Year.


We are delighted to honor Jessica Davis as recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin 2020 Teaching Excellence Award.

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