Twelve outstanding Dallas ISD teachers are in the running to become the district’s Teacher of the Year in three categories—elementary, secondary and choice/magnet. These teachers represent a wealth of teaching experience across the district. The winners will be announced on May 10 at the 2021-22 Dallas ISD Educator of the Year Awards, in Partnership with Dallas Education Foundation, Sponsored by Reliant.
Meet the finalists:
Elementary (PK-5) Finalists
Wildrem Andrade Matamoros – Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary
Born in Honduras, Wildrem Andrade Matamoros moved to Dallas at the age of nine and was enrolled at Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary in Dallas ISD. Eleven years later, she would return to that same school, this time as a first-year bilingual teacher. Throughout her youth, Andrade Matamoros credits the teachers she met along the way who inspired her to set and reach important life goals. Andrade Matamoros became the first in her family to graduate from high school in 2008, and she didn’t stop there. In 2013, Andrade Matamoros graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood development and returned home to Dallas to become a teacher at L. W. Kahn Elementary. She soon found her true passion in teaching literacy to bilingual and newcomer students with whom she shares similar backgrounds and experiences and in 2014, Andrade Matamoros began a new assignment as a fifth-grade bilingual reading teacher, where she has remained for the past eight years. Andrade Matamoros has been a leader in initiating and implementing impactful writing and social-emotional strategies on her campus while also serving as the campus activity coordinator and coach for academic teams. Her dream when she was five years old was to be an “orgullo hispano”, someone Hispanic people could look up to. She is grateful for the opportunity to teach in Dallas ISD and to work in the community where she grew up.
Andretti Camper – Jose “Joe” May Elementary School
Andretti Camper, currently supporting a specialized classroom for students with autism at Jose “Joe” May Elementary, did not choose education; rather, education chose him. Growing up around educators, Camper knew that teaching was the career that would allow him to make a lasting impact on the hearts of others. Camper began his journey as an educator as a teacher assistant, served as a long-term substitute teacher, and then realized his calling as a teacher of students with significant cognitive disabilities. In his role, Camper focuses on functional and daily living skills to ensure his students are learning practical skills that transcend the classroom. Camper is a graduate of William Carey University where he received a Bachelor of Science in English and Biology. As a lifelong learner, Camper is currently completing the final semester of graduate coursework at Texas Tech University where he will receive a Master of Education in special education and autism spectrum disorders and he will then pursue National Board Certification. As a Dallas ISD Specialized Programs Model Teacher, Camper’s ultimate motivation is to advocate for all learners and to be a voice for those that struggle to be heard.
Noemi Arnal Villalba – L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary
Noemi Arnal Villalba teaches third-grade math and science at L. L. Hotchkiss Elementary. Prior to her current role, Arnal Villalba taught at the Cesar Chavez Learning Center and at several schools in Barcelona, Spain. Arnal Villalba is a proud Distinguished Teacher and teacher leader on her campus, and she holds a Master Teacher designation on her Texas Educator Certificate as recognized by the State Board for Education Certification. She was a member of the training team for the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and she presented at the National Parent Teacher Home Visit Gathering in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Arnal Villalba graduated from Pompeu Fabra University at Barcelona with a Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting where she also earned Master’s degrees in Translation and Interpreting, Linguistics, and Teaching of Compulsory Secondary Education as well as a Baccalaureate in Professional Training and the Teaching of Languages.
Kristina Chandler – Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School
Kristina Chandler, a fifth-grade math teacher at Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School, began her career in education in January 2009 as a substitute before becoming a full-time teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas at Dallas. Chandler serves as Brashear’s first-ever fifth grade Debate team coach and as an advisor to the students in the National Elementary Honor Society. An active member of the Friday Club and Multicultural Committees, Chandler also enjoys training peers and community members. Chandler’s goal is to effectively lead by example with integrity and professionalism, because she believes that conducting oneself with authenticity and integrity will allow all necessary attributes to fall into place. It is her mission to promote the importance of academic success for all students, build long-lasting relationships, and embrace and celebrate diversity throughout the community. Chandler believes serving as an educator is an honor and a privilege, and, with guidance, integrity, and compassion, she will continue to mentor young people as they achieve long-lasting success.
Secondary (6-12) Finalists
Anais Childress – Hillcrest High School
Anais Childress teaches International Baccalaureate History and African American Studies at Hillcrest High School, and she is currently serving as an Assistant Principal intern. Childress holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Secondary Education from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and she will earn her Master’s degree in Urban Educational Leadership from Southern Methodist University in May 2022. With five years of experience teaching in urban school districts in Chicago and Dallas, Childress became part of Dallas ISD’s founding cohort to offer African American Studies in high schools and prides herself on being a student advocate. She believes that the least we can do within this current system of education is to maximize it to the advantage of the historically underserved. Outside of education, Anais enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, and serving her community.
Sara Gill – Ann Richards STEAM Academy
Sara Gill, a sixth-grade English Language Arts and Reading teacher at Ann Richards STEAM Academy, joined Dallas ISD in 2014. A native Texan, Sara Gill was born in Dallas, raised in Garland, and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. At Ann Richards, she holds the responsibilities of sixth-grade representative on the Faculty Advisory Committee, facilitator of grade-level content professional learning community, member of the Culture Committee, and model classroom that new and progressing teachers can observe. A Texas Education Agency-designated Master Teacher, Gill is passionate about helping her students not only grow and close the gaps in reading but also gain confidence and realize their potential. Outside of the classroom, Gill enjoys serving the Dallas community as a lead volunteer at Dream Center Dallas whose goal is to equip families with resources and services to meet various immediate and long-term needs including homelessness and hunger.
Dutchess Gutierrez – Thomas Jefferson High School
Dutchess Gutierrez, dance teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School, was born in Oklahoma City before relocating to Irving and graduating from MacArthur High School. She developed a love for dance as a member of the MacArthur High School Cardettes Dance team and served as the first African-American Captain her senior year. Gutierrez attended Trinity Valley Community College before completing her Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a minor in Spanish at Sam Houston State University. After graduation, Gutierrez returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and pursued a career in professional dance. During that time, Gutierrez earned her teaching certification through Texas Woman’s University in an effort to share her passion for dance with students in public education. Gutierrez has proudly spent all eight of her years in education at Thomas Jefferson High School where she teaches Dance Arts and directs both the Liberty Belles Dance/Drill Team and the Thomas Jefferson Dance Company. Gutierrez has served in various roles including TEI campus expert and Senior Sponsor committee member while also expanding her impact as a Dallas ISD Drill Team Facilitator and Summer Dance Intensive site lead. When not in the classroom, Gutierrez enjoys cooking, baking, yoga, shopping, and spending time with her family and friends.
William Hastings – H. Grady Spruce High School
Will Hastings, math department chair at H Grady Spruce High School, discovered that he had no love for engineering – but a deep enjoyment in tutoring his peers in higher-level mathematics – while an undergraduate Electrical Engineering major at the University of North Texas. Realizing his passion, Hastings joined the Teach North Texas Program, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, a minor in Education, and the goal of being one of the best teachers Texas has ever seen. Hastings spent four years teaching in Little Elm and Collinsville, honing his craft, before coming to Dallas ISD to put his skills to the test at H. Grady Spruce High School. Though his first year was rough, it taught him a level of classroom management and parental outreach that he could have never received elsewhere. By year two, Hastings had developed a curriculum that addressed student learning gaps while progressing them forwards to mastery. In only his third year, Hastings was asked to move to the Lead Geometry position, where he doubled the department’s ACP passing averages in historic fashion. Soon after, he was recruited into Spruce’s Early College program, and has now achieved TEI and TIA Distinguished status, become the Head of the Math Department, and enrolled in graduate mathematics courses to become a dual credit teacher for Dallas ISD’s Collegiate Academies.
Choice / Magnet Finalists (All-Level)
Christopher Grace – Rosie Sorrells Education and Social Services Magnet
Christopher Grace, a world languages teacher at Rosie Sorrells Education and Social Services Magnet, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in History at Fort Hays State University. Now completing his tenth year in Dallas, his journey began at Franklin International Exploratory Academy. Upon arrival, the campus world languages program had few students enrolled and offered only one language of study. Within his first three years at Franklin, Mr. Grace used his innovative strategies to attract 100% of students at the campus to enroll in the program and recruited many effective teachers to expand the world languages program at Franklin. He has been successful in leading professional development for student engagement at the campus and district level and has recently led virtual training for cohorts of world languages teachers across the country. He has served on many committees working with the community, educators, and students including the Campus Instructional Leadership Team, Newcomer and English Learner Program, District Advisory Committee, Envision Dallas ISD, TEI Campus Expert, and Site-Based Decision-Making Committee.
Natalia Rodriguez Perez – Dallas Hybrid Preparatory at Stephen J. Hay
Natalia Rodriguez Perez, founding math teacher of Dallas Hybrid Preparatory at Stephen J. Hay is a graduate of the University of Valladolid in Spain, receiving both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemistry. Prior to joining Dallas Hybrid, Rodriguez Perez served at L.O. Donald Elementary School as a math and science bilingual teacher where her students excelled in both subjects, far outpacing peers across the district. She believes the lessons she designs have a lasting impact on her students and real application on their lives. In addition to teaching grade 4-6 mathematics, Rodriguez Perez also sponsors robotics classes and clubs, including a female-led robotics team. As an inductee in the talkSTEM-If/Then Educational Fellowship, Rodriguez Perez participates with 25 other middle school women teachers in the Dallas area. This fellowship is designated to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers and to seek to further advance women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers.
Aaronda Smith – George Bannerman Dealey Montessori and Vanguard Academy
Aaronda Smith is a Reading Language Arts Honors 8th grade instructor at George Bannerman Dealey Montessori and Vanguard Academy. A 16-year Dallas ISD veteran teacher, Smith has instructed middle and high school students at three institutions of learning in a variety of disciplines, including reading, debate, strategies for success, literary genres, and creative writing. In 2015, Smith started Dealey Montessori’s Debate Program, and since then the team has consistently earned high marks and a plethora of awards. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with both a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Arts degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction. Throughout her career, she has served in various leadership roles, including Campus Instructional Leadership Team member, Instructional Coach, Site-Based Decision Making team member, mentor teacher, English contact for school programs, and Global Awareness head for implementation of campus global studies. Smith has one goal in life: to humbly serve every person God places in her path and ensure they leave her presence better than they were before walking into it.
Adriana Campos Low – Prestonwood Montessori at E.D. Walker
Adriana Campos Low, a founding teacher of the Prestonwood Montessori at E.D. Walker is a proud alumna of the Dallas ISD. She became interested in bilingual education as a high school student at The School for the Talented and Gifted. A native Spanish speaker who struggled in an early exit bilingual program, she wondered if other language models could offer more support. This curiosity led her to complete a thesis in her senior year of high school titled, “The Promise of the Dual Language Program in Dallas ISD.” She continued this passion for bilingual education at Stanford University, where she was awarded a grant to conduct an independent research project on the social impact of dual-language programs, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Honors in Education. After receiving her Master of Arts in Education with Bilingual Authorization in Spanish from the Stanford Teacher Education Program in 2012, she began her career as a bilingual teacher in Redwood City, California. In 2016, she returned to Dallas ISD to teach at Stephen C. Foster, her former elementary school, with the hope of empowering students in her community to believe in themselves. Campos Low is honored to be a part of Dallas ISD and believes it is a privilege to work with students in her community.