Frisco ISD Names 2021 Teachers of the Year

Congratulations to the 2021 Frisco ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year Cathy May of Newman Elementary School and the 2021 Frisco ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Melody Nicholson of Frisco High School!

The winners were announced at the Teacher of the Year dinner at The Star on Tuesday night.

“In this past year, students and teachers took bold steps forward in embracing challenges and finding solutions in an educational landscape that will never be the same,” said Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip. “The District-wide winners, along with all campus Teachers of the year, embody all of the qualities we want in our educators.

“They each have a gift for collaboration, communication, innovation, lesson design, engagement and the ability to respond to the needs of their students and colleagues. They are future-ready educators preparing students to find creative solutions for the challenges they will face both in and out of the classroom.”

This past fall, each campus named its own Teacher of Year campus winner based on criteria from Region 10. Campus winners were invited to submit applications as candidates for the FISD Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year. A selection committee reviewed the anonymous applications and used a rubric to score the essay and letters of recommendation.

Five elementary teachers and five secondary teachers with the highest scores were named finalists at the evening Teacher of the Year event before the elementary and secondary winners were announced.

Elementary Teacher of the Year 

2021 FISD Elementary Teacher of the Year Newman ES Teacher Cathy MayThe 2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year Cathy May is a Kindergarten teacher at Newman Elementary who knows that great teachers have a passion for teaching and learning, no matter the circumstances.

“A great teacher creates a safe, welcoming environment in which learning is exciting and inspiring for all students,” May said. “I believe that knowing a student’s name and need is the first step in actually meeting those needs.

“Each student’s needs vary. Maybe it’s a safe place, an encouraging word, an ear to listen, a challenge, acceptance, someone to joke with them or even someone to believe in them. In a year like this, I feel that listening to and engaging with students is more important than ever.”

May has been with Frisco ISD for 17 years and comes from a family of educators. Her desire to spark a passion for learning in her students is innate.

“My favorite part of being an educator is encouraging and teaching others to use their gifts,” May said. “I reflect back and know that my years of service have had a meaningful impact on my former students because they grow up and share their love, kindness and knowledge with others.”

“Mrs. May displays an extensive amount of knowledge, competence, experience and passion for teaching children,” said Newman Principal Rachel Gilbert. “She demonstrates a sincere interest in her students and is always compassionate towards their individual needs.”

Secondary Teacher of the Year

2021 FISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Melody NicholsonThe 2021 Secondary Teacher of the Year Melody Nicholson teaches economics at Frisco High School.

Nicholson began her career in education after working as a mortgage underwriter and witnessing the financial collapse of 2008.

“I realized that there was a lack of economic and personal finance education and I wanted to influence positive change with the youth of our community,” Nicholson said. “I believe with my whole heart that I have been given the skill, experience and talent to accomplish exactly that, but my greatest accomplishment is the growth of my students.”

As an educator with more than 10 years of experience, she inspires students to engage in critical thinking skills, analytical skills and literary comprehension skills that are needed in order to be a successful postsecondary student, employee and citizen.

Nicholson’s colleagues say that she is not only a content expert and inspiration to her students, but someone who builds lasting relationships while preparing students for success in the classroom and in life.

“I want my enthusiasm to spark a genuine curiosity in the phases of our economy and how it is relevant to the confidence and growth each person can have in their everyday living,” Nicholson said. “While I have accomplished many professional and curriculum goals, my greatest joy comes from receiving emails from current and former students when they are seeking advice and celebrating personal goals.”

Congratulations to the 2021 Frisco ISD Teachers of the Year Cathy May and Melody Nicholson!

The eight other esteemed finalists for the Frisco ISD Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year included:


  • Laura Barr - Sparks Elementary Fifth grade teacher

  • Jordan Carlisle - Sonntag Elementary third grade teacher

  • Francesca Downing - Corbell Elementary PE Teacher

  • Darlene Sellers - Fourth grade teacher from Purefoy Elementary 


  • Victoria Lien - Liberty High School assistant orchestra director

  • Cynthia Martinez - Trent Middle School science teacher

  • Ashley Thomas - Heritage High School math teacher

  • John Timpani - Clark Middle School Assistant Band Director

All nominees, finalists and winners received a backpack full of congratulatory gifts from community sponsors. The full list of the 2021 Campus Teachers of the Year who make Frisco ISD #FISDStrongerTogether can be found here.

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