Brownwood High School science teacher Kristi Owen says she doesn’t like being in the spotlight. So being named the Region XV Education Service Center Teacher of the Year is not a totally comfortable position for her.
“I’m out there, leading a class, but I like to be low-profile,” Owen said Tuesday. “If anything, I feel the award makes me have to live up to this now.”
Owen was met by BHS Principal Bill Faircloth and Dr. Sue Jones, superintendent, during her free period Tuesday to present her a gift from other educators. Owen attended a Region XV superintendents’ meeting in Wall last week where she was presented as the region’s secondary level Teacher of the Year. The region includes 18 counties, from Brown County on the northeast to Val Verde on the southwest, and includes San Angelo and Del Rio.
“My mother was a teacher, and my father was a biology major,” Owen said. “They urged me not to go into teaching, but I guess it was always in the back of mind. I grew up pretending to be a teacher like my mom. I guess it just gets into your blood.”
Owen moved to Brownwood with her family as a sophomore, and graduated from Brownwood High and Howard Payne University. She has taught at Brownwood High for 10 years, and before that was a teacher for two years in Mineral Wells and one year in Amarillo.
Owen said she was told in January that she had been nominated for the Teacher of the Year award in the Brownwood school district by another teacher, a student and a student’s parent, and was given the opportunity to fill out the required application. Before spring break, she was informed she was in the top three, and she learned in May she was the Brownwood district’s honoree.
“I was vacationing with my family in Washington, D.C., last August when I got an e-mail from the superintendent telling me I had been named Teacher of the Year for the region,” Owen said. “That was great, to be with the entire family when we found out.”
She and her husband, Scott, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Howard Payne University, have two children: Seth, a sixth grader, and Kory, a fourth grader.
At the ceremony in Wall last week, Owen said she got to meet the region’s representative from the elementary school level. They will be among the 40 educators — two from each regional education service center in the state — to be recognized in Austin in November.
“I like being around kids,” Owen said. “I really enjoy my job. I enjoy seeing the students succeed. It’s a joy to watch them when they work on something and finally see exactly what I’m talking about.”
Owen said she’s heard from several students who have gone on to college and began their careers who told her something she taught meant a lot to them.
“I get e-mails from former students asking me to go over something we studied in class,” Owen said. “I received a text-message just recently from a student asking me about a particular acronym.”
She knows of at least one of her former students who was steered toward a career in a biological field because of her class.
“But the whole scientific method fits into everyday life,” Owen said. “I like it when a kid is able to apply what I teach — not memorize it, but apply it. I tell them if they just regurgitate it, I’m not teaching them anything. They know what regurgitate can mean, and that gets a laugh.”
Owen said since biotechnology is a growing field, even students who don’t plan to study science beyond her class will benefit.
“When they go to see their doctors, for example, they will know what they’re talking about,” Owen said.
“She is a definite blessing to Brownwood High School,” Faircloth said Tuesday after presenting the gift. “What makes Mrs. Owen so special is that she loves kids and wants to see them succeed in life. The kids don’t care about how much you know, they care about how much you care.
“That’s what’s so great about the entire faculty here. Even on the best days, the job will wear you down, but I’ll say this, no one has stepped up more for the kids than Mrs. Owen.”
Faircloth said Blue Bell Ice Cream has offered to serve ice cream — in the flavor of Owen’s choice — to everyone on campus in recognition of Owen’s Teacher of the Year honor. A date hasn’t been set, Faircloth said, because schedules are being coordinated between the school and company officials.
But the flavor has already been determined: the campus should be prepared to be enjoy a serving of Moo-llennium Crunch. “It’s got chocolate and caramel and nuts and lots of good stuff,” Owen said.
The ice cream party will probably be held at a pep rally, Faircloth said.
“I’d really like to thank the Brownwood faculty and administration, the students and the students’ parents for making this job fun,” Owen said.