Texas Keo has 14 years of experience with the Ripon Unified School District.
But it’s at Ripon Elementary School, in grades TK-3 as a response to intervention teacher, that her efforts got npoticed.
Principal Dana Phelps provided the nomination of Keo to the San Joaquin Office of Education for the 2021 Teacher of the Year.
Keo earned that honor last week, beating out other Teacher of the Year finalists – included were Sierra High’s Hans Schmitz (Manteca Unified), Amanda Baily (second grade, Bohn Elementary / Tracy Unified), Renae Potts (sixth grade, Jefferson / Jefferson Elementary School District), and Devon Vallon (third grade Bethany Elementary / Lammersville Unified) – during the event held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keo’s nomination will now be submitted for consideration as California Teacher of the Year, according to SJCOE.
She also received $1,000 from Premiere Community Union, a longtime supporter of education in SJC.
Phelps described Texas Keo as “not only a great teacher, but someone who overcame great obstacles to became a valued member of the Ripon Elementary community.”
She added: “Texas is an extremely hard worker who has preserved through many challenges in her life. Her obstacles were not roadblocks but lessons she used as tools to mold herself into the driven caring woman she is.”
Texas Keo was an English-language learner, according to Phelps, and she uses her first-hand experiences to help students with their many challenges.
“Texas always puts her students first, while conveying patience and empathy due to her own life experiences,” Phelps said.
What’s more, Keo experienced a difficult upbringing only to become the first member in her family to graduate college – she officially adopted four of her younger siblings, helping put them through college as well.
She was recently asked what she believed were the qualities of a good teacher.
Her answer was that of perseverance, especially over the past year.
“There will always be challenges as a teacher, and we need to learn how to be flexible and to problem-solve together. The stronger we are united, the better it will be for our children. And that’s what it’s about, our kids. Our children need to learn. They need to succeed,” Keo said.