The Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin

Teaching Excellence Award

The Phi Betta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin seeks to raise public awareness of the contributions that teachers make and to raise the esteem of the teaching profession. We are pleased to provide the annual Teaching Excellence Award for an area high school teacher. This award provides $2500 to the teacher, with an additional $500 to the teacher’s school, to be used in support of the teacher’s work.

In line with the Phi Beta Kappa motto – Love of learning is the guide of life – we salute teachers who exemplify that motto in their own lives and in the lives of their students. These are teachers who

  • Demonstrate instructional expertise as well as innovation and creativity in teaching methods and classroom activities.
  • Display the ability to engage students of varied backgrounds and abilities, cultivating joy of learning and critical thinking.
  • Participate in activities that improve their knowledge and skill in the liberal arts and/or sciences.
  • Share their own classroom success through mentoring, curriculum development, publishing, and/or presentations.

The Award is given to the winning teacher at the Fall General Meeting of PBKAAGA.

2022 Winner: Dr. Deborah Mann, Austin Waldorf School, Austin. 

Like all of those teaching and Austin Waldorf School, Dr. Mann incorporates activities for her science students that include movement, art, group collaboration, and speech work. An outstanding part of her work with students is a week-long residential ecology field trip.  See more information about her here

2021 Winner: Joseph Oleniczak, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin. An active researcher during the summer, Mr. Oleniczak teaches Biotechnology and Research Internship courses that are dual credit with Austin Community College. Keenly focused on individual student needs, he provides hands on lab experience in what will soon be the first of its kind DNA Sequencing and Genomics facility on a high school campus.  See more information about him here.

2020 Winners:

Rebecca Cohen, Pflugerville High School. An innovative English teacher who is also a campus and district leader, Rebecca teaches English and AP English. She engages students who are freshmen and juniors, as well as mentoring new teachers and sponsoring the Tutoring Center.

Jessica Davis, Bowie High School, Austin. Teaching a range of biology courses, Jessica leverages her industry experience and ongoing learning to engage her students in case studies, argument-driven inquiry, and brain-targeted teaching strategies. She, too, is a mentor to new teachers and a team leader on campus.

See more information on the 2020 award winners here

2019 Winner: Kelly Wroblewski, Austin High School. A teacher who inspires her pre-calculus students to love math, Kelly also teaches the Academy for Global Studies Capstone and is an academy instructional coach. Her work and award are described in this article: West Austin News.PDF

2018 Winner: Trent Jimenez, Bastrop High School. Teaches Advanced Placement History and Government, as well as a dual-credit government course through Austin Community College.  See the coverage of the award by the Austin American Statesman  here.

Here is the nomination form to be used by principals for the 2022 award:

2022 PBKAAGA Nomination form.docx

Here is the application form to be used by teachers who have been nominated for the 2022 award:

2022 PBKAAGA Application form.docx

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