May 10, 2023 by HCDE Communications
As Teacher Appreciation Month continues, Harris County Department of Education recognizes the exceptional, passionate dedication of its educators. This week, we highlight two teachers who were nominated as the 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year and Educational Aide of the Year.
Teacher of the Year
Nicholas Herring, Ed.D., an educator at Academic and Behavioral School West, knows from experience that even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry. As a Teacher of the Year nominee, Herring is recognized for his ability to develop personal connections with students which transcend the classroom and his willingness to always lend a hand.
As a graduate of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Herring began teaching government and coaching sports in New Orleans. He quickly realized his passion was to help students who needed additional support in advocating for themselves, a quality Herring struggled with in his own youth. He found his niche in special education and has worked with autism spectrum disorder and life skills students across Houston for almost a decade.
During his time as an educator, Herring developed a fifth “learning style” that challenges educators to utilize all the primary learning styles—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing—in unison for what he calls “the exceptional learner.”
“Working in special education, I have learned to become fluid like water,” said Herring. “Although we may not have many students in the classroom, there are varying personalities and circumstances that happen instantly. I try to incorporate all learning styles simultaneously to cater to my students’ unique needs.”
As a Teacher of the Year nominee, Herring continues to make a difference in the lives of his students, providing them with the support and guidance they need to succeed. Next, Herring hopes to bring his classroom experience and knowledge to an administrative capacity at ABS West.
Educational Aide of the Year Nominee
Educational Aide of the Year nominee Tanya Eagleton has had a lifelong passion for education. Eagleton’s family has a long history of scholastic involvement, which dates back to the founding of the Crosby-Barrett Station area and their investment in the community’s first school.
Her contribution to education spans more than 15 years, with the majority of her time spent at the Crosby Independent School District, where she served on the board of trustees and was a founding board member of the Crosby Education Foundation. During her tenure, Eagleton worked to secure funding and maximize innovative learning opportunities for students.
Eagleton’s first opportunity to work in the classroom as an educational aide came during the 2021-2022 school year in Georgia. Colleagues recognized her exceptional ability to connect with at-risk students and noted her capacity to build relationships based on trust, which resulted in highly motivated students. That same energy and commitment are felt both by students and faculty at Highpoint School East.
“Kids are our future, and we have to learn to connect with our students to help mold them into productive citizens,” said Eagleton. “These kids have so much potential, and some just need to be challenged academically, others artistically. We must figure out what inspires them to reach them on a personal level.”
Eagleton uses her own experiences to instill resilience in her students. Despite a second ovarian cancer diagnosis, she plans to resume collegiate classes for management and administration this month, a feat inspired by her students. As an Educational Aide of the Year nominee, Eagleton hopes to leverage her experience in the classroom to one day create behavioral and treatment plans for special education students.
Additional nominees for this year’s Teacher of the Year and Educational Aide of the Year will be featured next week.