Huntsville, TX – Following a detailed selection process, Windham School District (Windham) is proud to announce the recipients of the district’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year Awards. Elizabeth Casteen was named the Life Skills Teacher of the Year and is the recipient of the Dr. Lane Murray Excellence (LME) in Teaching Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Windham educator. Nicole Thompson and Stephen Fredricks, District Teacher of the Year finalists, were named Academic Teacher of the Year and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year, respectively. These exceptional educators were selected as the district’s 2023-2024 Teachers of the Year due to their dedication and outstanding service to Windham’s unique population of students within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“Windham teachers are vital to the success of the district and our students,” Windham Superintendent Kristina J. Hartman said. “After being nominated by their peers, selected by their principals, interviewed and observed by the LME in Teaching Award Committee, these instructors proved to be admirable representations of quality educators whose efforts lead to success in the classroom and our Texas communities.”
Ms. Casteen, a Changing Habits and Achieving New Goals to Empower Success (CHANGES) teacher at the Allred Campus located in Iowa Park, was selected as Windham’s 2023-2024 District Teacher of the Year affirming her visible devotion for teaching, playing a monumental role in her students’ growth and success. CHANGES, a cognitive behavioral life skills course offered through Windham, is designed to introduce students to skills and necessary characteristics needed to successfully navigate reentry into their communities after having the opportunity to identify and process and address the thinking errors that led to incarceration. Ms. Casteen is consistently reminding her students to “make good choices,” and is often informed by them when they use the techniques learned to do so. To set the tone for a good day, Ms. Casteen always ensures to greet her students with a smile as they enter her classroom. She makes it her upmost priority to uplift each of her students’ individual learning styles and incorporates this into her daily lessons.
“Ms. Casteen recognizes the growth her students are working to achieve and makes a point to celebrate all of their victories,” said Superintendent Hartman.
An academic teacher at Windham’s Roach Campus, located in Childress, Ms. Thompson was named the 2023-2024 Academic Teacher of the Year due to her dedication to introducing the practicality of education to her students, allowing them to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and how it relates to the world around them. Ms. Thompson brings with her over 30 years of experience in education and uses her expansive knowledge to collaborate with students of all backgrounds and learning abilities, expanding their minds, and introducing them to vast educational opportunities they may have previously deemed impossible.
“Ms. Thompson works diligently to keep her students connected with the evolving community, despite their environmental limitations,” Superintendent Hartman said.
Mr. Fredricks, a Construction Technology instructor at the Estelle Campus in Huntsville, was selected as Windham’s 2023-2024 CTE Teacher of the Year, as his exemplary service in helping his students become better individuals elevates him. Mr. Fredricks supplies students with the integral tools and knowledge that will benefit them as they reenter into the Texas workforce and teaches individuals to establish proprietary goals to continue their success following their time in his classroom. His emphasis on the display of kindness and compassion for others helps instill these qualities in his students, allowing them to find their purpose within any environment.
“Mr. Fredricks’ connection with his students is inspiring,” Superintendent Hartman said. “He strives to help them become someone that they’re proud of.”
Windham utilizes a multi-tier nomination, interview and observation process to select the district’s Teacher of the Year and respective finalists. Each year, the Teacher of the Year selection process reveals the invaluable service Windham educators provide, acknowledging that they are some of the best in their field.
ABOUT WINDHAM SCHOOL DISTRICT
Windham School District (Windham) provides academic, career and technical education and life skills programs to eligible students within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). We serve a unique population of individuals who are incarcerated and working towards completing educational goals, and others who engage in technical training and soft skills. With 85 campuses located in TDCJ facilities across Texas, Windham strives to prepare students with the necessary education and skills to successfully reenter the workforce within their communities. For media or partnership inquiries, please contact Danielle Nicholes, Communications Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.