2018 STAT Award Winners

Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year Awards Presented by Chevron

The Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year Awards presented by Chevron recognize excellence in science teaching. The awards are presented to STAT members in the following categories:

Rookie Science Teacher of the Year

Jessica Lugo
Crosby ISD

Jessica Lugo is a bilingual science educator at Crosby ISD’s Charles R. Drew Elementary School. When Jessica joined the Crosby ISD team in 2017, her enthusiasm and drive for excellence immediately stood out. “She is eager to learn and not afraid of sharing concerns and challenges to grow professionally,” writes Crosby ISD elementary science coordinator Sharon Kamas. Before becoming an educator, Jessica worked in the medical field and earned her associate degree at the University of Puerto Rico–Ponce Campus, her bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico–Medical Sciences Campus and her doctorate in medicine at Universidad Central del Este–Dominican Republic. Her education experience drives her philosophy of education: “I build quality relationships with my students so they know I care. A good relationship starts with a strong foundation, including consistency, clear expectations, procedures, and routines. I want to spark their curiosity and share my enthusiasm.”


Elementary Science Teacher of the Year

Vanessa Gonzalez
Alamo Heights ISD,
San Antonio

Vanessa Gonzalez is a fourth-grade dual language teacher at Cambridge Elementary School in Alamo Heights ISD in San Antonio. A 12-year teaching veteran, Vanessa has also taught in North East ISD and San Marcos CISD. She is dedicated to enhancing student engagement by promoting use of technology in classrooms, whether through use of Google Classroom, Seesaw, Flipgrid or other tools. “I can teach my students to love to learn—to think critically with curiosity, compassion and understanding in order to create a better and more sustainable world,” Vanessa says. Vanessa earned her bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Texas at San Antonio and her master’s in educational leadership from Texas State University. Her work as a teacher has been recognized by STEMscopes and the DoSeum, a San Antonio children’s museum, and she has served as a campus instructional leader, helping her colleagues incorporate STEM in their lesson plans.


Middle School Science Teacher of the Year

Kelley Andrews
Richardson ISD

Kelley Andrews teaches fifth-grade science, social studies, technology and health at Richardson ISD’s Math Science and Technology Magnet. A current UTeach Mentor teacher, Kelley also participated in the Texas Regional Science Collaborative for more than a decade. Her principal Helena Lopez writes: “Kelley lives and breathes science and is a true advocate for instilling quality STEM skills in her students’ educational lives. … Administrators and colleagues are not the only ones who notices her passion for teaching and learning, her reputation as a strong leader, and her dedication to the profession. Her students witness it on a daily basis, and the relationship she has with them is that of mutual trust and respect.” Kelley earned her bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate at the University of Texas at Dallas and her master’s degree in K–12 science curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington.


High School Science Teacher of the Year: Ariana Persaud, Crosby ISD

Ariana Persaud
Crosby ISD

Ariana Persaud is a certified composite science teacher at Crosby High School in Crosby ISD. Prior to joining Crosby in 2014, she taught in City View ISD in Wichita Falls and at Grenville Secondary School in St. Andrew, Grenada, West Indies. Crosby High Associate Principal Angie Darbonne writes: “The work ethic Ariana instills in her students is to aim high and shoot for the stars.” At Crosby High, Ariana has designed and implemented lesson plans and curriculum for students struggling to pass the TAKS test and Biology EOC exams. She has also taught physics and implemented AP Environmental Science as a course offering. “Everyone in my classroom contributes as a student, teacher, and thinker. By incorporating multiple methods of teaching—linguistics, visual, auditory, kinesthetic—to reach students, no one is left behind.” Ariana is a graduate of the University of Midwestern State University and studied abroad for one year at Technology in Jamaica.


Distinguished Leadership in Science Award Presented by Chevron

The Distinguished Leadership in Science Award presented by Chevron recognizes outstanding support of science education at the district or state level by a non-teaching administrator in Early Childhood through Grade 12.

Distinguished Science Teacher of the Year

Jason Baughman
Allen ISD

Jason Baughman has served as PK–12 coordinator of science in Allen ISD since July 2016. When he joined the district, he began to collaboratively create an aligned and articulated vision for science teaching and learning across the district. These “Science DNA Statements” frame the district’s beliefs about science learning, and they start with the statement “We Do Science,” reinforcing foundational pedagogical practices about how students learn. “We connect specific process TEKS to content TEKS,” Jason says. “This helps teachers focus on the process of science and not just the content.” Before joining Allen ISD as coordinator of science, Jason served in a similar position in Little Elm ISD. He has also worked as a technology integration specialist, assistant principal, instructional specialist and physics teachers. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Sam Houston State University and a master’s in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University.


Skoog Cup College Faculty Award

The Skoog Cup College Faculty Award is presented to a faculty or staff member at a Texas college or university who has demonstrated significant contributions to and leadership in the development of quality science education. The award is presented by STAT and the Texas Tech University Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Program and is named for Dr. Gerald Skoog, the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor Emeritus at Texas Tech University. 

Skoog Cup College Faculty Award: Dr. Julie Jackson, Texas State University

Dr. Julie Jackson
Texas State University

Julie Jackson, an associate professor at Texas State University, has influenced the science pedagogy of thousands of educators and the science instruction of tens of thousands of students. With her collaborative approach, Julie is highly regarded as an outstanding teacher-scholar. She promotes inquiry science instruction while simultaneously providing support for reading and writing with special emphasis placed on meeting the needs of English language learners and economically disadvantaged students. “My work provides professional growth opportunities in science content and pedagogy for pre- and in-service teachers,” Julie says. “Together, we examine innovative approaches to teaching and learning science content and academic vocabulary. I use the practices of science to establish that everyone is a scientist and that science is a way of looking at the world and asking questions.” Julie earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Carolina, her master’s degree at the University of Alabama and her doctorate at the University of Texas.