Education Alumnus Earns Teacher of the Year Honor
Odom Elementary School 2017-18 Teacher of the Year
Odom Elementary School in Houston, Texas, named University of Texas at El Paso alumnus Alejandro De La Peña Jr. as its 2017-18 Teacher of the Year. The campus is part of the Aldine Independent School District.
The school district hired De La Peña as a special education teacher in March 2014, the year after he earned his Master of Education in special education/autism. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in special education in 2012.
District officials stated that his structured learning classroom is a model for the school district. The El Paso native called himself among the district’s “pioneers” in terms of technology in the classroom to include 3D printing, coding for robots, electronic circuit building, flying drones and more. The first-generation college student also is one of six district teachers selected to participate in INSPIRE Aldine, where speakers share the inspirational stories that led to them becoming a teacher.
Odom Principal Delilah St. Julian praised the UTEP graduate for his professional dedication, collaborative insight
“His motivation and high expectations have been greatly rewarded by his students' achievement levels and grateful praises from proud parents,” St. Julian said. “He is an amazing advocate for seeking various ways to obtain instructional materials for his students."
De La Peña was an exemplary student at UTEP who earned numerous awards and scholarships. He was active in student activities and organizations and took leadership roles in some of them. He said the work he did to earn professional recognition is the result of the education and support he received at UTEP. He promotes a mantra that anything can be accomplished through hard work.
“Prepare yourself, give it your best, analyze possible improvements, repeat,” he said.