At Boys Ranch Independent School District, excellent teachers are a big part of the success our young people enjoy while at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. These educators understand the mission of our therapeutic community and they come alongside our children and their success teams, to build relationships critical to the learning process. Each year, the district recognizes top teachers, selected by their peers, for annual awards.
Last week, BRISD Superintendent Kenneth Brown announced the three 2019 – 2020 campus teachers of the year. The winners are Sarah James, representing Blakemore Middle School; Donna Craig, representing Mimi Farley Elementary School; and Stephanie Brock, representing Boys Ranch High School. James was named the district teacher of the year.
These three educators represent a combined 50 years in education.
“We have phenomenal staff at BRISD,” Brown said in making the announcement. “It is never easy to pick who will be recognized each year.”
Sarah James teaches sixth- and seventh-grade math. She has been teaching at Boys Ranch since 2007, recently completing her 13th year.
“I did not expect this award,” James said. “But, it is nice to be recognized by your colleagues!”
James said there are so many excellent educators at Boys Ranch she doesn’t believe for a minute she is the best teacher.
“I know by far, I am not the best teacher at Blakemore, and I could always improve in different areas in and outside the classroom,” she said.
For James, teaching isn’t always about, well, teaching.
“So many kids come through my class year after year, all with different backgrounds and the number of lives I could have an impact on, good or bad, is a big number,” James said. “I obviously want to have a good impact on the kids!”
With that said, James said being able to have a lasting impact a child was the main reason she came to teach at Boys Ranch.
“I have a brother who was sent to the ranch years ago and, had he not been sent here, I am not sure if I would have ever heard of the place,” James said. “I don’t want to speak for others, but in my opinion, not only did Boys Ranch have a huge impact on my brother, (Assistant Superintendent and Athletic Director Paul) Jones and his wife (educator Susan Jones) definitely did! So, if I could help one kid out like Coach Jones and his wife did for my brother, then it would all be worth it.”
Donna Craig is a second-grade teacher who just completed her third year at BRISD. She taught 11 years in other districts. One of the things she really loves about teaching at Boys Ranch is the class size.
“My classes are small enough that I can really learn and get to know each of my students and meet their individual needs accordingly,” Craig said.
Because she respects and values the knowledge of her co-workers and peers so much, this honor is extra special for her.
“They are an amazing group of individuals that have truly given value to my experience as a teacher,” Craig said. “I hope and pray I live up to their expectations.”
This much-loved teacher says she finds great reward every day she is with the students.
“The most rewarding part about teaching at Boys Ranch is having an opportunity to give all children kindness, love and understanding,” Craig said, adding, “knowing that this kindness and love, mixed with truth, consequences and clear rules, will create a place where positive things will happen.”
Stephanie Brock has worked 16 years as a teacher and six years as an educational diagnostician. She just completed her second year at Boys Ranch High School, where she teaches reading and also is a special education inclusion teacher. She also is a volunteer track coach.
Brock finds it easy to relate to many of the young people she connects with every school day at Boys Ranch.
“I grew up in a foster home outside of Wheeler, Texas,” she explained. “I was nine years old when I went to live with the Irwin family, and although they never adopted me, I am lucky to call them my parents.”
Brock believes this upbringing helps her understand the emotions of many of her students.
“I hope that I am an example for them of what can be accomplished if they focus on making positive decisions as well as working hard and not allowing themselves to have a victim mentality,” she said.
Brock said she loves to prove to others that her students can succeed when no one else believes they can.
This high school teacher hopes she can continue to provide support to her teaching colleagues at Boys Ranch and to continue to draw from her vast experience. Her goal is always to provide good assistance to both the adults and children at Boys Ranch.
Join us in congratulating our 2019-20 top teachers at Boys Ranch!