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Honors for CHS Future Educators--and Their Teacher

 Sixteen state qualifiers and honors for their teacher are the results of Cleburne High School’s performance at the Texas Association of Future Educators Area conference and skills competition.

Cleburne will be represented in 11 individual and team events at the TAFE Teach Tomorrow Summit in early March following top performances at the November 16 contest, in which CHS teacher and chapter sponsor Vanessa Buttler was honored as the Area 10 Teacher Leader of the Year.

                Qualifiers in individual events include Journey Harris-Impromptu Speaking, Creative Lecture; Ivy Grace Smith-Exploring Support Service Careers; Kassandra Martinez, Katy Britt-Exploring Non-Core Subject Careers; Khushi Patel, Kendall Kindred-Job Interview; Christina Sohns, Allie Ashwell-Teacher Created Materials.

                Competing in team events are Ivy Grace Smith, Will Harp, Stephanie Rocha, Alina Gonzalez-Researching Learning Challenges; Kassandra Martinez and Quetzal Morales-Children’s Literature K-3 Spanish; Isabella Mendez and Aubrey Fisher-Interactive Bulletin Board/Elementary; Adrian Parker and Viviana Ramirez-Interactive Bulletin Board/Middle School.

                Buttler is a new member of the CHS faculty as the instructor of the Career and Technical Education Teacher preparation and training program.

                “I’m not new to teaching, but this is a new subject area for me,” Buttler said. “It feels so natural—because I am teaching my passion. To share what I feel is my calling with students who are interested in this same career path is both exciting and rewarding.”

                “I was completely shocked to receive the Teacher Leader of the Year Award,” she said. “It’s based on a student nomination process, so that makes this recognition extremely special. To read the words of my students, to see that it doesn’t matter to them that I don’t know it all, that meant the most to me.”

                Buttler quickly learned about Cleburne’s level of involvement and success in the student organization for future educators when she interviewed for the teacher preparation position at CHS.

                “During the interview I was told Cleburne would have students boarding a flight to Washington, D.C. the next day to compete at the Educators Rising National Conference,” Buttler said. “That was very impressive.”

                Patel, Smith and Harris were among Cleburne’s national competitors, each returning with honors. Harris, who is the sole senior member of Cleburne TAFE, was the national champion in JV Impromptu Speaking in 2021 and at the 2022 conference was honored as a Top Ten Finalist in Varsity Creative Lecture. Patel achieved the JV Championship in Job Interview. She is advancing to state in the same event as a varsity competitor.

                Smith, who was awarded the JV bronze medal in Exploring Non-Core Teaching Careers, set a goal at the start of the school year to be among those competing at the national contest in the summer of 2023. She is president of Cleburne TAFE and has been selected for an Area 10 officer position.

                “I decided to change events this year to expand my skill set—to see what else I can do and add to my wheelhouse,” Smith said. “The national conference will be in Orlando and I’d like to be among the competitors. I want to be involved in education as a career. Teachers are vital—they mean everything in a child’s life.”

                 “We have a nice blend of experienced competitors and first timers,” Buttler said. “Six freshmen are among our state qualifiers. We have great student leadership, which has positively impacted our newcomers—including me. There is a foundation of excellence within this chapter that I want to maintain and build on. I am so excited for the future of education, especially knowing it is in the hands of future teachers like these.”

                TAFE is sponsored by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals and was created in 1984 to give students the opportunity to explore the teaching profession. It is one of nine Career and Technical Student Organizations recognized by the Texas Education Agency.