Congratulations to the 2020 Frisco ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year Melanie Rutter of Vaughn Elementary School and the 2020 Frisco ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Chris Ham of Liberty High School.
The winners were announced during a special Facebook live event that included speeches from the 2019 winners: Pink Elementary teacher Misty Lewin and Pearson Middle School teacher Tyra Damm.
“All of the teachers recognized as Teachers of the Year work hard in their classrooms, labs and gyms day in and day out and deserve our praise and thanks,” said Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip. “These teachers embody the Frisco ISD mission of knowing every child by name and need and are going above and beyond in their line of work.”
In the fall, each campus named its own Teacher of Year candidate who participated in the District-wide selection process based on criteria from Region 10. A selection committee reviewed the anonymous applications and used a rubric to score the essay and letters of recommendations.
The five elementary teachers and five secondary teachers with the highest scores were named finalists at a Facebook live presentation by Dr. Waldrip last week. The finalist with the highest score at each level was named either the Elementary or Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
The 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year Melanie Rutter has made a notable impact across Frisco ISD since joining the District in 2005.
“She knows her students inside and out and clearly understands how each child learns best while inspiring them to be lifelong learners,” said Vaughn Assistant Principal Michelle Kim. “Students are constantly pushed to think outside the box and are motivated with Rutter’s approach to teaching and learning.”
As a Vaughn Elementary School fourth grade math and science teacher, Rutter has won grants from the PTA and the Frisco Education Foundation for her innovative teaching, but it’s the way she connects with students makes her truly special.
“A great teacher puts aside ego, fear and personal comfort to do what is best for students,” Rutter said. “A great teacher also not only sees the learner but sees a person with a unique mix of emotions, beliefs and behaviors. My student-teacher link respects their ideas but also constructs ways to help them thrive academically, socially and behaviorally.”
“Any student that finds themselves in Rutter’s classroom is one that is truly blessed,” said Vaughn Principal Susie Graham. “The collaborative nature of the students working together in her classroom, where students have not only autonomy but choice on a daily basis is clearly impactful.”
Secondary Teacher of the Year
The 2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year Chris Ham is a Pre-AP and AP Biology teacher at Liberty High School.
Ham has been with Frisco ISD since 2015 and has consistently demonstrated a passion for learning alongside his students.
“He has a tremendous ability to tap into their innate curiosities, encouraging students to ask the right questions, monitor their own levels of understanding and to persevere through the inevitable challenges that arise,” said Fern Bamfo-Addo, Liberty assistant principal.
As a lifelong learner, Ham actively seeks out ways to improve upon his craft to increase the rigor in the classroom. He works tirelessly to ensure students are authentically engaged everyday.
“A great teacher is always learning, practicing new strategies and contributing to the field of education to support other teachers,” Ham said. “My greatest accomplishment is creating the same inviting school environment that I grew up in where students are encouraged to find their sense of belonging,”
“He gives his all to his students, sponsoring the eSports Club where students have a place to come and spend time playing video games with other students after school on Fridays, sponsoring the Anti-Social Social Society, providing a space for students to work on their social skills and get outside their comfort zone, and giving students the means to start their own podcasts to express themselves,” said Liberty AP Biology teacher Richard Sabatier. “Any student’s life is greatly enriched by crossing paths with him.”
Congratulations to the 2020 Frisco ISD Teachers of the Year Chris Ham and Melanie Rutter!
The eight other esteemed finalists for the Frisco ISD Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year included:
Kacie Blough - Bright Academy
Kristina Knox - Sparks Elementary
Nicole Moreno - Scott Elementary
Casie Schneider - Shawnee Trail Elementary
Nancy Gardner - Lawler Middle School
Ashley Luhrs - Nelson Middle School
Karen Morin - Pearson Middle School
Sandy Sternitzke - Wakeland High School
All nominees, finalists and winners will receive a Teacher of the Year Nike backpack containing gift items from sponsors and a commemorative personalized paperweight. The full list of the 2020 Campus Teachers of the Year can be found here.