Return to Headlines

Donna ISD Teachers Receive State Recognition

Donna ISD

Seven Donna ISD educators representing two campuses recently received state recognition for their work in a Texas Lesson Study spearheaded by Region One.

Recognized from P.S. Garza Elementary were Francis Amaya, Diana Montano, Juan Ortiz and Ana Vasquez along with Curriculum Specialist Itzamara Moses and teachers Esmeralda Camarena and Elizabeth Salinas from Salinas Elementary S.T.E.A.M. Campus. Their final product was chosen from among numerous other lessons presented by teachers across the state and published in the Texas Education Agency’s Texas Gateway. The website provides classroom-ready instructional resources for students in grades K-12 and self-directed professional development opportunities for teachers. 

The work of these educators will serve as a model for teachers to learn from and integrate into their classrooms. “I was very overjoyed and proud of receiving this recognition,” Camarena said. “It was team collaboration and when I say team it’s the district as well as everyone who played a part in our project.”

"We’re very excited,” Vasquez-Quintanilla said. "It’s something we never thought would happen because we were told of other teachers who submitted their work and were never published."

Each group was asked to reflect on their own campus data and create a lesson plan that could ultimately help students master a particular area and lead to improved student outcomes. The long and rigorous process required both groups to conduct research and work together with their team members to develop the plan. They concluded the project with a video recording showing the lesson plan being played out in the classroom.

"We chose inferencing with poetry," Moses from the Salinas S.T.E.A.M. Campus said. “Once that was selected, it was a lot of reading and researching strategies and best practices to teach students poetry and the figurative language. Then, we put the information into a lesson and recorded one of our teachers teaching while the rest of us observed, gave feedback and corrected the lesson to perfect it. We went back and recorded it a second time, which was the one that was published. So, all of us collectively worked together to develop the best lesson possible."

"We identified the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) that students were struggling with the most,” Amaya from Garza Elementary said. “We did our best to come up with the most effective lesson to help them do better in that particular TEKS with the differentiation included to help any teacher who wants to use it be successful in the classroom."

In summary, the Donna ISD educators said they could not be more proud of their accomplishment.  Amaya said her experience led her to write a poem. "Our students sometimes need a lot of inspiration and so it inspired me to write a poem for them and it’s called ‘I Am Me’ and it goes like this: I am me and I am great. My abilities are endless and innate. Big things are in my future and in my fate because I am me and I am great.”

Their work is published at for all educators to view via the Texas Gateway website.

For the direct link to Garza's lesson: 
Moving Beyond P.I.E.

For the direct link to Salinas' lesson:
Figuring Out Figurative Language: