With constant struggles with dyslexia and a drive for a college degree, the road to a career in education wasn’t always easy for McNeil High School Aquatic Science Teacher Kari Teague.

Teague has been selected as the 2017 Teacher of the Year for McNeil. She has been an educator for 28 years, 15 of which have been at McNeil.

While in high school, Teague said she was prepared for an industrial career by teachers who thought she wasn’t college material. Through long nights and hard work, Teague graduated from Texas A&M University and returned to her home district to inspire students much like herself.

“The most important thing you can give a child is a chance,” Teague said. “There is so much diversity in classrooms today and McNeil High School is no exception. Each student needs individual attention to thrive.”

Students in Teague’s aquatic science class learn more than the Mid-Ocean Ridge Systems or heat flow, she said. The senior-level class also teaches students how to navigate college life and the importance of being prepared for labs and tests.

One of the most important rules in Teague’s class is “There is no wrong answer until the test.” The rule helps establish a safe learning environment where students are willing to take risks and collaborate to create group learning experiences, she said.

“Teaching is my way of giving back the life lessons I’ve learned,” Teague said. “If I can light the passion for knowledge in my students like I have, there are very few dreams, opportunities, or desires they cannot fulfill. This is what drives me to be a better teacher every day.”

Teague recently had the opportunity to teach her first visually impaired student, which challenged her to adjust the curriculum and still achieve objective goals. Teague crafted 3D models of visual materials for the student to ensure the learning opportunities were equal for all students.

McNeil Principal Courtney Acosta said Teague leads her classroom by example and strives to set students up for success both in high school and in post-secondary life.

“If anyone embodies the traits of a student-centered teacher, it’s Coach Teague,” Acosta said. “She often puts aside her own wants and desires to serve our students at McNeil. Her passion to give students all they need bleeds into those surrounding her, truly making our school a better place.”