Rhonda Howard, a teacher for 30 years and in her 22nd year teaching at Early High School, has been selected one of 10 teachers in Texas to receive the “Texas Exes” Award for Outstanding Teachers.
The 10 awards are given annually by the University of Texas in cooperation with the Texas Exes alumni association and the College of Education. Teachers selected for the award represent every size of school district and geographic area and have degrees from all over the country. Howard’s degree is from Texas Tech University.
Early High School Principal Susan Haynes, who nominated Howard, said when she read the criteria for the award, she could not imagine anyone who might deserve such an award more.
The criteria for the nomination is that the teacher must (1.) inspire and support their students; (2.) bring credit to the teaching profession; and (3.) be held in the highest regard by their current and former students, fellow teachers, administrators, parents, and community.
“That certainly is our Mrs. Howard,” Haynes told the EISD board of trustees at its December meeting.
As one of the 10 teacher honorees, Howard will receive statewide and local recognition; a cash prize of $2,250; a specially commissioned bronze sculpture; be invited to attend an awards banquet hosted by the University of Texas president; and also receive an annual invitation to attend the all-expenses paid two-day conference on Texas Excellence in Education on the UT campus that this year will be held in February.
Howard began teaching at Early High School in 1989. Her husband Tommy was the basketball coach, and Howard said, John King, who was principal at EHS at the time, asked her if she would get her bus driving certificate so she could drive the UIL students to contests.
“Since then,” Howard said, “I have worn many hats. I started out as cheerleader sponsor and one act play director and teaching theater and English. I have added UIL coordinator, National Forensics League sponsor, ITS sponsor and AP English.”
Howard is also certified as an English as a Second Language teacher. At the age of 50, she earned her masters at Lamar University, so EISD could incorporate its dual credit program. She serves as English department chair and Senior Graduation and Baccalaureate director. This year, Howard said, she has added Future Problem Solving and a Community Project entitled “Don’t Blink.”
Howard said as she was being interviewed for the award she was asked her philosophy of teaching.
“Here it is,” she said. “I always remember that God is in control. He gives me students each year and I give them expectations higher than they ever think they can achieve. And then I sit back and watch them accomplish them. Sure, I don’t win them all over, but at least they know that they matter to me and that I truly believe that they should never settle for average because they are capable of going ‘beyond the lines.’”