CTEC Teacher Wins American Lawyers Alliance Award

May 08, 2020

Debbie Keen 2020 Teacher of the Year by the American Lawyers AllianceCongratulations to Career and Technical Education Center teacher Debbie Keen who has been named a 2020 Teacher of the Year by the American Lawyers Alliance.

“I was in my pajamas in the kitchen when I got the phone call,” Keen said. “It was really funny and bizarre to be in quarantine and receive this great news!”

After intense competition, Keen was chosen for this national award based on her passion and innovation in the field of law-related education. 

Keen has taught in Frisco ISD since 2012 when she helped open Vandeventer Middle School but has been teaching at the CTEC since 2014. She teaches Political Science, Survey of Government and Public Administration and Court Systems and Practices. 

“It is a joy to work with young people and influence their trajectory in life,” Keen said. “Incremental changes can have a big effect on their lives. I don't always get to see where they land, but it's awesome to watch the 'lift-off' and see them moving in the right direction.”

As an educator, Keen's passion for life-long learning serves her well, and she has the added bonus of sharing her knowledge every day. 

“It’s fun to go to work each day and I have the added bonus of being a big law nerd who gets to share my latest knowledge with students each day,” she said. “Teaching is the closest thing I can get to being a full-time student!”

Keen enjoys that each day brings new challenges, laughs and the opportunity to engage with students who consistently keep her on her toes. 

In 2018, Keen founded the non-profit Youth Safety and Civility Alliance (YSCA) with students from across Frisco ISD sitting on her youth advisory board. YSCA is designed to encourage civil conversations, conflict resolution and situational awareness. Her latest project through YSCA is designed to promote civil discourse in classrooms and at kitchen tables as we move through the 2020 presidential election.

“Youth understand that there is a problem with people finding a common ground and working together, and they want to make a difference,” Keen said. “Constructive dialogue can help rebuild communities and the next generation wants to be part of the solution.”

Her students recognize her as a leader and admire her for dedication to teaching.

“I have never felt so much adoration and respect for a teacher,” said Liberty High School junior Ananda Ghoshal. “She has reinforced my love for government and law through interactive lessons, self-paced assignments and the focus on current events. I can say I have learned more in this class and how to apply my knowledge here than I have anywhere else.”

CTEC Principal Dianna Manuel agrees that Keen is special to the students.

“Ms. Keen has a passion for teaching and is a positive voice in support of students and education,” Manuel said. “She genuinely cares about students and always has their best interest at heart. Ms. Keen is a champion for students inside and outside of the classroom.”

Keen was the 2015 Texas Teacher of the Year for the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary. She is also an independent contractor with the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education division. She is a consultant, writer and workshop presenter. She is also an independent contractor with the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center.

Congratulations to Debbie Keen on her well-deserved honor. She will be recognized in a virtual awards ceremony in July.

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