After years of trying to find a balance between teaching her love of science and literature, University of Houston-Victoria alumna Laurie Vogt is happy that she found her place as the Rowland Elementary School librarian.

Vogt’s innovative and creative lessons as the school librarian earned her recognition from her peers, and she was named the Rowland Elementary School Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. She is one of 12 UHV alumni who were named teachers of the year in the Victoria School District last school year.

“Being named teacher of the year for the school was so exciting,” Vogt said. “When I became the librarian a couple of years ago, I made a lot of changes. It feels good to know that my peers recognized those changes and are on board with me.”

Every year, each of the 24 schools in VISD names a Teacher of the Year. The teachers chosen for the award are based on nominations from their campus peers. Once each campus selects a winner, those teachers must complete an application for the overall VISD Teacher of the Year. A committee then uses the information from those applications to name a district elementary and secondary Teacher of the Year. The two district award winners then can compete for the regional award, and regional winners compete for the state award. For the 2019-2020 school year, 12 UHV alumni and former students were named Teachers of the Year.

“I was thrilled to learn that 12 of our teachers of the year were graduates of UHV,” VISD Superintendent Quintin Shepherd said. “UHV is truly a gem in the crown of our community, as the university has been helping prepare and extend the education for countless teachers in our region. I am grateful to have UHV in our backyard and for their partnership in preparing such quality instructors.”

In addition to Vogt, the following UHV alumni and former students were named Teachers of the Year:

  • Aloe Elementary – Selena Gomez, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2004
  • Crain Elementary – Veronica Cantu, certification program, 2015
  • DeLeon Elementary – Kelly Lorance, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, 2003
  • Hopkins Elementary – Jennifer Wheeler, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2009
  • Mission Valley Elementary – Joycelyn Drozd, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1987
  • Schorlemmer Elementary – Melissa Romanowski, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2010
  • Vickers Elementary – Tammy Reyes, enrolled in Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction courses, 2006-2008
  • Cade Middle School – Cindy Diggs, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002
  • Career & Technology Institute – Gwen Etzler, Bachelor of Science in Math, 1987
  • Patti Welder Middle School – Meagan Chacon, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, 2016
  • Victoria East High School – Aubrey Lopez, VOICE program, 2007

“It is exciting to know that so many of our alumni are receiving this recognition from their peers,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “UHV is dedicated to training quality educators, and we are proud of the success of all of our alumni. Teachers truly have a positive impact on our community, and we are glad to hear that our alumni are at the forefront of excellence.”

Vogt received her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from UHV in 1999, and in 2010 she received her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Literacy Studies with a concentration to become a reading specialist. She has been with Victoria school district for 21 years. Before becoming the Rowland Elementary School librarian, she taught English/reading at Crain Middle School and Howell Middle School, and science at Hopkins Elementary School. Vogt received her librarian certification in 2014. Vogt also is an alumna of VISD and a native Victorian.

“It is really rewarding to see the growth we have had at VISD, and it’s nice to be able to teach the children of my former classmates,” Vogt said. “It’s exciting to be able to come back and help teach the community you grew up in.”

Vogt said she chose to change from a classroom teacher to a teaching librarian after she learned that more school librarians are expanding library resources to include technology and hands-on projects. As a librarian, Vogt can provide students from all elementary grade levels projects that are rooted in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, or STEAM.

Most of the projects are hands-on and apply to lessons the students are learning in the classroom. Some of the projects include robotics, creating a business and design, reporting the weather on a green screen, and building a mock natural habitat. Students spend time researching the focus of each project and build a database of sources before presenting the final project.

Because of COVID-19, it has been several months since students have been in the library and on campus for learning. When school campuses closed down, Vogt was able to help teachers with virtual teaching and technology, and helped families understand the virtual programs.

The past several months has been challenging for teachers and students, but Vogt is excited to have students back in the library.

“The library went from a place where you could only check out books to a space where students can create and connect books to projects,” Vogt said. “I love that students are able to learn more about all the different facets of all the subjects they learn in the classroom. The students can learn more about themselves through these projects, and I love that about the library.”

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