Congratulations to Norris Elementary second grade teacher Laura Newell who is the Texas Computer Education Association’s High Impact Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Newell has been with Frisco ISD for seven years and helped open Norris Elementary. It was not long until she won her first award as the Outstanding Rookie Teacher of the Year by the Science Teachers Association of Texas and gained a reputation for having an incredible rapport with students and contagious enthusiasm.
When Newell’s second grade class walks into her room each day, they know they are in for a day of student-centered, innovative lessons by a teacher who cares about them both academically and as individuals.
“When students are allowed to lead and take ownership of their learning, they quickly become passionate,” Newell said.
Newell, like all teachers the past two years, had to reach deep into her teacher tool-box to find new and innovative ways to reach students. Newell was featured in a story about how teachers at the beginning of the pandemic leveraged the pandemic as a learning tool.
While all teachers in FISD have pushed themselves forward, it takes a special teacher like Newell to be recognized across the state as the Texas High Impact Teacher of the Year.
“I was so surprised to be nominated but I was overwhelmed with emotion when I got the call,” Newell said. Newell had also learned that day that her beloved golden retriever, Jett, had cancer.
As an undergraduate at TCU, she knew she wanted to be around kids to help them reach their full potential and she knows that students in her class are more innovative, creative and engaged when technology is used to enhance lessons.
“Second graders are at a pivotal point in their education because they quickly go from becoming consumers of technology to innovators,” Newell said. “I can expose them to the basics of Prezi, Kami, Google Slides, or even my favorite
coding robots, Ozobots, and they quickly explore and take it more than a few steps further.”
Newell also explained that all it takes is for one student to figure out a new technique or strategy. Within minutes, students are excitedly collaborating and teaching each other what they have learned.
“Technology allows students to make mistakes and easily correct them, which makes them unafraid to try new things,” Newell said. “Through technology, students engage in productive struggles and collaborative conversations, important
aspects of their growth and development.
“Don’t get me wrong, while I may promote the use of technology in lessons, I will also be the first person to encourage students to put the devices aside. Both in and out of the school, students need to explore and engage with the world through
play because there is valuable learning readily available at school and home without technology.”
Newell is an inspiration to those around her and Assistant Principal Michelle Snyder expressed that she is a great example of a future-ready educator.
“She strives to create lessons that engage students and prepare them for a bright future,” Snyder said. “Her classroom is a supportive, caring environment where students love to take risks and grow and we are thrilled that TCEA has recognized
what we have witnessed her do for years!”
Newell received a plaque and $1,000 for her accomplishment, which was recognized at the annual TCEA conference. She will put that money towards educating students in Zambia, where she teaches students each year who have no access to technology, and to
her beloved dog Jett.