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Lago Vista ISD
Teachers of the Year

Lago Vista ISD's Teacher of the Year selection process is based upon the methods and requirements used at the regional and state levels. Candidates for the District's Teachers of the Year must be exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled at their craft. Furthermore, they must inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, have the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues, and play an active and useful role in the community, as well as in the school.  We are incredibly proud of these amazing teachers!

2021-2022 Lago Vista ISD Teachers of the Year

Stacey Bingham, LVISD Elementary Teacher of the Year (jpg)

Stacey Bingham
K-5 ESL Specialist, Lago Vista ISD

Stacey Bingham is proud to teach in the once small town she grew up in, which is also where her mother taught elementary school. Lago Vista ISD has experienced exponential growth in the 16 years Stacey has been teaching here. This is one of the many reasons she plans to continue to grow herself as an educator, so that she can always meet, and hopefully exceed, the needs of her students.

Stacey earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas in 2002, graduating magna cum laude. Feeling the pull toward education, she then acquired her teaching certification and began teaching Special Education at Lago Vista Middle School in 2005. Her years in Special Education were some of her fondest and most rewarding. When her students graduated, she accepted a position teaching 2nd Grade. She enjoyed this position greatly as well, as she was able to teach a diverse group of students and provide family support.

In 2021, Stacey accepted the position of ESL Specialist for grades K-5. She pulls small groups to focus on the English Language Proficiency Standards. She strives to engage, encourage, and energize her students. She facilitates a safe and inviting classroom environment where her students enjoy stepping out of their comfort zones and are able to build confidence in themselves as they learn and improve listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Dusty Kinslow, LVISD Secondary Teacher of the Year (jpg)

Dusty Kinslow
ELA, Lago Vista High School

Dusty Kinslow currently teaches English IV and Advanced Placement Literature and Composition to the Seniors of Lago Vista High School in Lago Vista, Texas. Ms. Kinslow holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Angelo State University with a minor in kinesiology and a Master's degree in educational leadership from Texas State University.

Before returning to the classroom in 2021, Ms. Kinslow helped to found a private university-model school in central Austin called Austin Classical School (ACS). Under her leadership and with the help of her incredible colleagues, the school grew from 13 students in 2013 to over 200 students and 30 faculty and staff in just 9 years. The work she did at ACS shaped her as an educational leader as she helped build a culture of joyful learning with a focus on the truth, goodness and beauty within the world.

Ms. Kinslow believes that each student has a divine dignity, and she strives to honor that dignity each day by building meaningful relationships with her students and by holding herself and her students to high standards of kindness, hard work, and humor. She believes a true education prepares souls and minds to flourish as students learn "how" to think, not "what" to think. And lastly, Ms. Kinslow believes teaching is the noblest profession and is honored to do work that she truly loves every single day.

  • Cathy Evans (jpg)

    Cathy Evans
    ESL, Lago Vista ISD

    Cathy Evans was born into a family legacy of education that has been passed down through five generations and always knew she wanted to be a teacher. However, after three years of college her dream of being a wife and mother took precedence, and her college education was put on hold. Twelve years later, when her youngest child started school, she returned to finish her college education and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Panhandle State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education.

    In 1986, Cathy accepted her first teaching position with Amarillo Independent School District as a 4th Grade teacher. It was there that she first experienced a very diverse culture and students of many ethnicities and languages. In working with those students, she developed a heart for second language learners. In 2001, Cathy moved to Lago Vista and taught 4th Grade at Lago Vista Elementary for seven years. In 2007 she accepted the position as the K-5 ESL Specialist and pulled small groups to focus on the English Language Proficiency Standards. In 2014 that position was expanded to include ESL services for all the LVISD campuses.

    Cathy never tires of learning and is constantly seeking ways to improve and challenge herself. She is a well organized leader and works well with teachers of all grade levels across the district to provide support and linguistic accommodations to ensure language proficiency. Cathy loves working with English Language Learners and their families and is proud to have carried on her family's legacy.

    Kaitlin Whitten (jpg)

    Kaitlin Whitten
    Science, Lago Vista Middle School

    Miss Whitten graduated from Baylor University in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education specializing in Science education. She holds Texas Teacher certification for 4th-8th grade Science, as well as PreK-6th grade general education. Additionally, she is ESL certified.

    In her classroom Miss Whitten strives to create lessons that are engaging for her students. She values collaborative learning, and has worked hard to provide opportunities that allow students to interact with each other while exploring the 8th grade Science concepts. This includes classroom transformations, group and individual hands on labs, and virtual escape room lessons. Miss Whitten works to include inquiry based activities, which encourage students to analyze and synthesize the concept being explored. Miss Whitten has also held after school review game sessions to help her students feel more confident, relaxed and comfortable as they prepare for their STAAR test.

    She also mentored the Science UIL student team, which performed well in their competition last year. Outside the classroom Miss Whitten was a member of the K-8 Grading Task Force which explored standards based grading.

    She believes it is vitally important to provide a positive classroom and school climate that allows students to learn and grow, both academically and emotionally. This allows her to form bonds with each of her students and ensures they feel safe and look forward to coming to school each day.

  • Secondary Teacher of the Year (6-12) - Allie Dement (jpg)

    Allie Dement
    Math, Lago Vista Middle School

    Allie Dement began her teaching career in August 1999 after graduating Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University with a degree in Elementary Education and a Minor in Mathematics. Throughout her twenty-one years of teaching experience she has consistently fostered a positive, loving learning environment where students feel challenged and safe to make mistakes in order to grow. Allie possesses a strong passion for math. She has successfully coached UIL Number Sense over the past twelve years. Allie is well known as a cooperative teammate. She enjoys collaborating with colleagues and designing strategies to increase positive interaction and improving the overall learning environment for her students. She is known to actively participate and engage parents to develop positive parent-teacher interaction. Allie transitioned from 4th grade Math, Science and Texas History to 6th and 7th grade Math. She is an ESL General Education Teacher with excellent time management skills, extremely dependable, and a clear effective communicator. Allie continues to lift her students’ education and morale every single day and certainly hopes to leave a lasting positive impression on each and every student.

    Elementary Teacher of the Year (PK-5) - Danny Smith (jpg)

    Danny Smith
    Resource, Lago Vista Elementary School

    Danny Smith was born in Houston, Texas and graduated from Kingwood High School in 1982. He continued his education at Sam Houston State University and became the first person in his family to graduate from college when he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement/Police Science.

    Danny and his family moved to Lago Vista in 2007 and he began his career in education by joining LVISD as a permanent sub. In 2008, he was offered a position at Lago Vista Middle School where he taught Special-Education Math and coached athletics. Danny continued and had various roles at the middle school, including: Resource Math, Solid Roots Behavior Coordinator and co-teacher for Science and Social Studies. In 2014 he had the privilege of joining Lago Vista High School to help open the new school. Danny spent the next four years in several positions at the high school, including; Learning Lab, Online Credit Recovery, coaching athletics and Special Education. In 2018, Danny moved to Lago Vista Elementary where he currently teaches Resource Math and Reading.

    For more than a decade, Danny has had the opportunity to work with students at all levels in Lago Vista ISD. Danny has had many memorable moments, including: coaching the 2010 State Football Semi-Finals at DKR Memorial Stadium and coaching the 2018 Girl’s Basketball Tournament. But what Danny cherishes the most are the relationships he built with students and staff. He believes in creating strong relationships and has learned more from the students than he will ever be able to repay.

  • Teach of the Year Jenni Rohne - 2019 (jpg)

    Jenni Rohne
    3rd Grade, Lago Vista Elementary School

    Jenni Rohne knew from about the age of six that she wanted to be a teacher. She loved learning, reading, and spending time with young children. She attended Winona State University where she graduated with a degree in elementary education. Her first teaching job was in a small Title I district where she was the reading and math specialist. Two years later, she moved to her own classroom. Jenni taught 6th grade, Pre-K, and 7th & 8th grade reading and English while in Minnesota.

    Jenni and her family moved to Lago Vista, TX in 2012. She was hired as a third grade teacher and has gone on to teach fifth and fourth grades. She is thrilled to be back in third grade this year, as 9 year-olds are some of her favorite people.

    She loves her students and looks forward to seeing where their futures take them. She frequently hears from many former students through wedding invitations, letters, Facebook, and email.

    Teacher of the Year - Katy Baugh 2019 (jpg)

    Katy Baugh
    Science, Lago Vista High School

    As the daughter of two longtime educators, Katy Baugh has spent most of her life in classrooms, gyms, school buses, and on sidelines. These experiences helped her to understand from a very young age the value and impact that great teachers can have on the lives of their students and athletes.

    Looking back, education seemed like an inevitable field for Katy to enter. However, she attended Angelo State University to pursue a degree in Chemistry with the intent of attending medical school. It was while working as a student tutor with athletes at ASU that her passion for teaching and mentoring came to life. In her final year of college, she added a teaching certification to her degree. Two years later, Katy co-founded Lone Star Cheerleading Association to provide a space where smaller schools could receive affordable, quality instruction in cheerleading. This continues to serve as her summer career and passion project to this day.

    Katy has taught in three different school districts as both a math and science teacher. Currently, she teaches all levels of Chemistry while serving as the science department chair at LVHS. In addition, Katy currently coaches the LVHS cheerleaders. With the backing of the LVISD administration and school board, Katy was able to transform the cheerleading squad into a competitive UIL program that has placed in the top ten every year that they have competed. The program’s journey to statewide success culminated in the first ever UIL State Cheerleading championship for Lago Vista in 2019.

  • Stacey Bingham began teaching Life Skills at Lago Vista Middle School in 2005, which is the same school district she attended as child. During her years on the middle school campus she wrote a Life Skills curriculum, created multiple campus-based businesses for her students to run and was recognized as the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas Teacher of the Year. When her students graduated the program and her daughter was of school age she took the opportunity to teach second grade.

    She takes pride in effective lesson planning, collaboration with specialists and administration to serve each student well, enjoys sharing and listening to new ideas, and fosters a comfortable and positive learning environment for kids. She wants them to want to come to school. Her classroom attendance is indicative of this.

    When the need for a third grade reading teacher arose last year she willingly moved up from her beloved second grade assignment to make sure students were served accordingly. As Ms. Bingham is currently a self-contained third grade teacher, she teaches a wide range of students including struggling ELLs, special education students as well as extremely gifted students. She strives to reach each group effectively and enjoys tracking and celebrating their individual growth. She works closely with families to close academic gaps where possible and to encourage a collaborative learning process for each child.

    Ms. Bingham enjoys cooking and playing board games with her daughter and is currently attempting to grow a large vegetable garden.

    Steve Garcia began his professional life planning to become a newscaster. While waiting for auditions, he began working as a substitute teacher. Garcia would meet with the teachers in advance to prepare to actually TEACH the classes. Soon, he found himself turning down auditions because he had a substitute job that day. That’s when he realized that teaching was his passion.

    That drastic change in plans led to some of the most rewarding experiences Mr. Garcia could imagine. he has had the opportunity to teach in two high schools, two middle schools, and an alternative high school. Starting by teaching at one of his alma mater’s chief rivals, Mr. Garcia thrived in the excitement of the classroom and the theatre, engaging students in and out of school hours.

    He then left teaching to pursue his dream of running a community theatre full-time. However, after seven years, the classroom continued to call him back. So, he began teaching at Frank Tejeda Academy, a dropout recovery program in San Antonio. He brought his passion for film by creating a thriving video production class that led to many students winning city and state-wide competitions.

    Mr. Garcia next moved to Lago Vista and taught middle school in Round Rock, where he was given the opportunity to create the first middle school video production and musical theatre programs in the district. As a Lago Vista Viking,Mr. Garcia has continued to bring innovative ideas to his classroom, creating curriculum for Professional Communications, Business English, and other classes.

  • MK Hernanadez
    MK Hernandez
    3rd Grade

    M.K. Hernandez feels blessed to have spent 25 years of her life getting paid to do what she loves. She was called to teach shortly after she graduated in psychology from the University of Texas. Working first as a teaching assistant/aide at a psychiatric hospital, she returned to UT for her teaching certificate, and then worked in Austin ISD for 8 years. Those years were formative for her, as she was fortunate to be part of a math cadre who were extensively trained in mathematics research and methods. She continued to read and attend trainings, with a focus on math and science. In 1999, she was hired at Lago Vista Elementary, which is where she has been ever since. She taught 5th grade, served as a Math Specialist K-5, and is currently teaching 3rd grade.

    As a State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching, she feels it is her duty to continue to grow in her methods, stay current in mathematics practice, and to help other teachers improve mathematics and science instruction. She has served on many school committees and has been a team leader for both 5th and 3rd grade. She has trained teachers at the local level, at Region XIII and at the CAMT state mathematics conference. Her community is very important to M.K. She has served on the board of the swim team and booster club, and has also been a Boy Scout merit badge counselor

    Wendy Phillips
    Wendy Phillips
    7th Grade Mathematics

    Wendy Phillips is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University where she majored in education with a dual teaching concentration in dance and mathematics. She began teaching at Plano East Senior High School, which was the largest school in the state of Texas at the time. She taught Algebra 2, dance, and served as the Plano East Golden Girls drill team director, a 75-member drill team. From there, Wendy moved with her family to Odessa to teach dance at Odessa High School where, after one year, she was named the department head for dance in Ector County ISD.

    Wendy’s next move to East Texas took her out of the dance studio and back into the math classroom in Carthage ISD and then Garrison ISD. It was in Garrison ISD where Wendy discovered her love for teaching middle school students, spending five years teaching 6th grade math teacher and 8th grade Algebra 1. Wendy still got to enjoy her love of dance serving as both the high school and middle school cheerleading coach.

    From there, Wendy moved to Sonora Middle School and took on a similar role as a middle school math and 8th grade Algebra 1 teacher. She also served as the middle school cheerleading coach and MS math team leader. In Sonora, Wendy discovered the Texas Math and Science Coaches Association (or TMSCA) and the opportunity to extend learning opportunities for kids wanting to excel in math and science. She was the TMSCA coordinator for Sonora ISD and took numerous kids to the state level of competition.

    After three years in her role in Sonora ISD, Wendy moved to Lago Vista ISD where she remains today. She serves as the 7th grade math teacher, MS cheerleading coach, math department head, and TMSCA coordinator for LVMS. In addition to teaching 7th grade math and 7th grade Pre-AP math, Wendy has selflessly assisted in the 8th grade Algebra 1 classroom and also provides tutorial sessions for 8th graders that need a little extra help with the STAAR test.

  • Kim Cook

    Kim Cook

    Educational Philosophy:
    Several years ago I read a quote that impacted me greatly.  James Comer, a Child Psychiatrist, stated: “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.”  I truly believe that as teachers we must establish caring relationships with our students and their families. When families and students realize that their teacher cares, than true learning can take place.  I believe that building relationships is critical in education.  We have to facilitate relationships with students, parents, and help our students build relationships with their classmates to form a class family that can work together. A motto of my alma mater states: “What starts here changes the world.”  I have this motto posted in my room to remind me everyday that I can make a difference in some small way.  Kindergarten is where children and families are introduced to public school. My wish each year is that children will leave feeling successful in some way and that parents understand the LVES is a good place for their children to be every day.  My hope is that children leave my class knowing that someone cared for them and believed in their ability to be successful. 

    Educational Accomplishments:
    After 20 years of being an educator, I have numerous educational experiences and achievements in which I am proud.  I am especially proud, when a six year old tells me,” Mrs. Cook, I want to be a teacher like you.”  I told my kindergarten teacher the same thing 48 years ago. She made me feel like a successful learner and I knew that I would be a teacher one day. I have read that fewer young adults are choosing to be teachers. We need to encourage children to become educators.  Ironically, one of the proudest moments occurred just recently. I had to make a quick Walmart stop on the way to school one morning to get some materials for a science experiment my children would be doing that day.  The cashier said, “You look like a teacher, but I didn’t know teachers started their day so early.”  Proudly, I said, “Yes I am a Kindergarten Teacher and teachers work all hours!”  When I got to my car, I had the realization that I get to do what I love everyday.  I know some individuals who make a lot more money than I do but they can’t say that they love what they do everyday.  I am grateful that I had teachers who cared for me and inspired me to become an educator of young children. So one I my proudest moments came one early morning when I realized that I had made it and that my childhood dreams had come true.  Yes, I teach Kindergarten and I love it!
    Amanda Hendrix (jpg)

    Amanda Hendrix
    Life Skills

    Educational Philosophy:
    My educational philosophy is simple: I believe that every student has the ability to learn, grow, and experience independence and I believe that it is my responsibility as an educator to foster that independence in my students. I believe that for students with special needs, it is of the utmost importance that they are given the opportunity to experience life with as much freedom as possible and to have as many “typical” experiences as they can. I believe that interactions with typically developing peers are incredibly important and can be vital to the academic, social, and behavioral growth of students with special needs, and I believe that those experiences can be utterly life changing for both my students and their peers.

    Educational Accomplishments:
    The educational accomplishment that I’m most proud of in my relatively short time as a teacher thus far is the peer program that has been created at LVHS. I have watched a group of 11 general education students grow, mature, and form friendships with my students that are indescribably valuable to both my students and the peers. I have seen students who struggle in every other area of their academic day come into my room and absolutely shine, and I have see how my students’ lives have been changed by the caring, generous, and patient nature of the students that they work with. I have been honored to be a part of starting this program and can’t wait to see how it grows in the future and how many more lives it changes. 
  • Cathy Evans

    Cathy Evans
    District ESL

    Educational Philosophy:
    Over nearly three decades, the layers of my educational philosophy have continued to expand and develop, but amidst all the changes one thing remains constant. It's all about the kids, and you need to love what you do. I believe it begins with creating a safe, comfortable, supportive learning environment for students of all backgrounds and abilities. As educators, we should establish well-defined goals, high expectations, and foster collaborative efforts with colleagues, parents, and the community in order to encourage success and motivate students to reach their full potential. By building relationships and getting to know our students, we can use various instructional strategies and methodologies to give them the skills and tools needed to become critical thinkers and successful problem solvers. I love watching the joy and excitement of our second language learners as they broaden their proficiency and confidence in the English language. I want my students to celebrate their achievements and realize that challenges can make us stronger, and mistakes can make us smarter.

    Educational Accomplishments:
    Although recalling a single moment is difficult, I believe that the ability to accept changes and challenges, in both my personal and professional life, and adapt with dignity, grace, and professionalism is one of my greatest accomplishments as an educator. I'm grateful for the diverse opportunities and pleasures of working with past and present colleagues, students, and parents. It is an honor to be an integral part of our ESL program and witness the accomplishments of students on all campuses across the district. I will always remember the day when an ESL student walked into my classroom and said, "I love coming in here. It makes me feel like the smartest person in the world."  I'm proud to be an educator, a teacher who touches the lives of her students and makes a difference. For me, that is the greatest accomplishment of all.
    Rachel Karg

    Rachel Karg
    5th Grade ELAR

    Educational Philosophy:
    My educational philosophy has evolved and changed over the years, however, one core belief has stayed constant. My philosophy is rooted in the idea of a student-centered classroom. I’ve always been motivated by the desire for students to play an active role in their learning, as the teacher acts as the guide or facilitator. I believe in empowering students with a voice and choice, while encouraging collaboration among learners. With this student-centered point of view I also believe deeply in a learning approach that allows students to see the purpose in their learning and be engaged in real-world problem solving. My students are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn and synthesize information. I strive for my students to be lifelong learners with the ability to think through concepts and issues and offer solutions. This belief allows me to incorporate and utilize technology in my classroom. My goal is to guide students to be producers of information as they learn to navigate and evaluate a large amount of material. In my opinion, students learn best by being a leader in the decision-making and by actively doing what they are learning about.

    Educational Accomplishments:
    The educational accomplishment I’m most proud of can’t actually be defined with numbers and data. My accomplishments happen every year when a non-reader enters my room and leaves as a reader. My greatest accomplishment happens when I can recommend a book and watch it fly off the shelf. My accomplishments happen when students return to me years later as published authors and avid readers. My accomplishments are the kids I've taught who go on to help make the world a better place. Students matter to me, and when I can help guide them to the desire to read and learn then I have accomplished my goal.
  • Maria Bricker

    Maria Bricker
    7th Grade Mathematics

    Educational Philosophy:
    While working with peer educators, students, parents and community members, my educational philosophy continues to evolve, but the underlying principle remains that all students can reach their full potential when given the right tools. I believe that an educator should provide the structure for learning by establishing clear goals that should allow students the flexibility to reach their goals in their own individual ways. This should be accomplished in a comfortable, safe environment that includes teamwork from educators, parents, and student peers. Students learn that risk-taking and failure are positive steps toward success, and that when respect is given to others, as well as, to themselves, true student strengths and weaknesses are discovered. I love teaching math because it’s so easy to show students how risk-taking, failure, different viewpoints and different strategies, along with perseverance, all lead to a solution and success. Success makes learning fun and instills pride in everyone in the learning community.

    Educational Accomplishments:
    I do not have one single moment that I am most proud of as an educator, but I am proud of my ability and willingness to adapt and change when new situations arise. I have had a vast variety of teaching experiences including teaching children of military members overseas in Japan, to children in a small rural town in Alamogordo, New Mexico, to children in the suburbs of Washington DC in Stafford, Virginia, to children from large, medium and small cities in Texas. In each teaching position, the curriculum, the environment, the expectations, the student learning styles, and the district teaching methodology changed, and I enjoyed every single position! I learned to be flexible and to adapt, and as a result, I have such a broader base of experiences to incorporate into my teaching style and curriculum to give students the best educational experience possible. The students, parents, and fellow co-workers that I have had the privilege of working alongside for over the past two decades have truly taught me that education is the most powerful tool that we can possess to influence the world.
    Darcy Burke

    Darcy Burke

    Educational Philosophy:
    For me, the most important part of teaching children is caring. It all begins with caring for children and what becomes of them, learning their needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I care for the students’ futures and will do whatever I can to help students’ achieve their goals. Another important aspect of my job is to provide a safe environment, and to be a person that children trust and believe in. I love the challenge of building success for each learner and helping students reach their fullest potential. I am constantly learning, reading, researching, and eager for learning new insights from educational research and my teaching colleagues. I have high expectations for myself as a teacher. I also have high expectations for every child that I teach and will do my best each day to ensure the success of each child.

    Educational Accomplishments:
    As a Kindergarten teacher, I am very fortunate to have small successes almost every day. I see kiddos “ah-ha” moments all year long. As for one educational accomplishment, I cannot narrow it down to just that one special moment. I guess I would have to say that the best moments are when that little face looks up at you from a book and says, “I can read!” It is priceless!

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