Out of 76 school districts across the 12-county education service area of Education Service Center Region 12, two educators have been selected for the top teaching award: the Region 12 Teachers of the Year.

Greg Oubre of Dean Highland Elementary School in Waco ISD is the Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Morgan Castillo of Woodgate Intermediate School in Midway ISD is the Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“We are extremely proud to have both of these remarkable educators serving kids in this area,” said Jerry Maze, Ed.D., executive director of ESC Region 12. “The time and energy they dedicate to their students, their peers, and the profession is truly an inspiration for others to follow.”

Elementary teacher

Oubre has been teaching for 11 years, all in Waco ISD, serving as a third-grade teacher at Dean Highland Elementary for the last six and previously as a teacher at Doris Miller Elementary.

Oubre uses a combination of the Whole Brain Teaching method, processing skill exercises, balance beams and unique gameplay to produce fast-paced, engaging lessons for his students. He also provides professional development in classroom technology, classroom management and Whole Brain teaching.

Oubre has helped implement and design numerous programs for summer enrichment, community and parent involvement, and a highly successful intervention program called “Dragon Camp.” His innovation, creativity and drive for excellence has brought his inner-city classes back-to-back national championships in Sumdog math competitions, world-high scores in the Achieve3000 reading program and multiple grants.

“Greg is a dynamic educator with a true passion for teaching and learning,” said Dr. Hazel Rowe, interim superintendent for Waco ISD. “When you’re in his classroom, Greg’s energy and enthusiasm are contagious. If you’re a colleague in his building, Greg is a true mentor helping you to hone your craft. There’s no doubt that Greg truly deserves this recognition.”

Oubre has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in social studies and holds several certifications, including one in English as a Second Language and one as a Whole Brain certified instructor. The Waco ISD teacher is married to Lilia, a third-grade teacher Midway ISD, and they have one daughter.

Other local finalists were: Yvette Picazo, China Spring Elementary School; Olivia Peasley, Hillsboro Intermediate School; Nicole Grygar, Woodway Elementary School, Midway ISD; Sandra Lomenick, Foster Elementary School, Riesel ISD; Anne-Marie Gladden, Robinson Elementary School; John Knutson, West Elementary School.

Secondary teacher

Castillo has been teaching for 15 years, with the last three as a fifth-grade science teacher at Woodgate Intermediate.

Before joining Midway ISD, Castillo served as a Spanish teacher in several school districts and as an international baccalaureate program coordinator in Waco ISD. During her early 20s, Castillo’s eyes were opened to the impacts of systemic poverty and the lack of quality education through poverty exposure trips to developing countries and volunteering in under-resourced communities.

Through connecting with people on a personal level and seeing the universality of struggle, Castillo chose to serve in public education, realizing the impact of quality education on a child’s success. She began her teaching career in inner-city schools to better understand the challenges faced by students in urban areas.

Over the years, Castillo taught multiple subjects at the primary and secondary levels in urban, rural and suburban communities. Her teaching style involves facilitating hands-on lessons where students explore, discuss and initiate learning activities.

“Mrs. Castillo is very deserving of the honor,” said Midway ISD Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas. “She brings her passion for learning to the classroom and truly makes learning come alive for her students. Mrs. Castillo is a master at bringing the outside world into the classroom so her students see the relevance of science in everyday life.”

Other local finalists were: Zabrina Lard, China Spring High School; Michelle Castelli, Connally High School; Kyle Davis, Hillsboro High School; Sheena Shaw, Mexia High School; Kimberly Zimmermann, Moody High School; Kimberly Cowart, Robinson High School; Brittany Foster, Brazos High School, Waco ISD; Wade Cook, West High School.

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