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Military spouse and military veteran capture Coryell County VFW Teacher of the Year honors

Posted Date: 01/10/2023

Military spouse and military veteran capture Coryell County VFW Teacher of the Year honors

COPPERAS COVE, TX (January 9, 2023)—The Coryell County VFW Post 8577 has selected its Teachers of the Year and two of the three honorees have strong military connections.

Military spouse and S. C. Lee Junior High teacher Kasie Taylor was selected as the post VFW Junior High Teacher of the Year for paying tribute not only to her husband, an active duty soldier assigned to Fort Hood, on Veterans Day, but creating a project that ran down the hallways throughout the school.

“Kasie came to me last year with a plan to support our veterans. She approached me again this year with an even bigger plan to support our veterans and active-duty personnel, while promoting civic responsibility, flag etiquette, and patriotism,” said Principal Brian Jost who nominated Taylor.

Taylor has worked as an educator since 2015. She has dedicated her adult life to supporting military personnel both past and present. She instills in her students a sense of gratitude for the men and women who ensure the freedom they enjoy daily.

“I coordinated the 2nd Annual S. C. Lee Junior High Wall of Honor to recognize service members, both veterans and those actively serving,” Taylor said. “I also coordinated S. C. Lee Junior High’s Inaugural Thank-A-Vet Card Contest where students created thank you cards with their original artwork. The first-place winner’s card design is used as a template for cards that are sent out to service members within the community.”

Taylor covered an entire of hallway of the school with photos of veterans and their related information including when and where they served and what advice they would give the junior high students. Soldiers of the school’s adopted unit were also featured in the display where an American flag was always present.

Andrew Pence served as a role model to the nation as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and to the community as a police officer. Today, he is a role model in the classroom at Hettie Halstead Elementary where he teaches students to be productive, responsible, caring, and contributing members of society. Pence was selected as the VFW Post #8577 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

“Mr. Pence exudes an air of punctuality, leadership, and persistence with his students,” said Principal Billie Diaz who nominated Pence. “Mr. Pence models good citizenship for all students and staff members at Hettie Halstead. He sets and maintains high expectations and the students he serves work hard because they know what is expected when they come into his room.”

Pence served eight years in the active-duty military, two years as a reservist, and 30 months in Afghanistan supporting the U.S. Army as a law enforcement advisor. Pence earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in New York and has nine years of teaching experience with fourth and fifth grade English and Reading, Social Studies, and Science.

“His role as a reading interventionist extends far beyond providing reading instruction,” Diaz said. “Mr. Pence collects interest inventories from each of his students and uses that information to incorporate their likes and interests in the books he selects for their reading groups. Mr. Pence sponsors a book club after school and is a published author himself.  Mr. Pence teaches students to be productive, responsible, caring, and contributing members of society. He encourages students to show a positive attitude towards their classmates and to take pride in their school and community.”

VFW teacher honorees are selected based on four core criteria including citizenship, innovation, resources, and passion for teaching. Pence and Taylor were honored by the local VFW Post, received a $500 cash prize, and advance to the district contest. Beyond district, the winners hope to advance to the state and on to the national competition where each winner receives a $3,000 cash prize.