Daniel Leija, a fifth grade teacher at Esparza Elementary School, has been chosen as a finalist in the Texas Teacher of the Year program. He was first selected as Region 20's Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, and then advanced to the state-level competition with other selected Region nominees.
"I am deeply honored to be selected," stated Leija. "I will be forever grateful to the administrators, fellow teachers, family and friends who helped me make this milestone a reality."
Leija is known around his campus as "Dan, Dan the Science Man." Students and faculty alike flock to his classroom to witness scientific experiments come to life and to marvel at his various science collections. His experiments are regularly broadcast campus-wide, cultivating a love of learning and a heightened fascination for the science field. In addition, Leija mentors retiring or separating military personnel interested in becoming teachers.
Facilitated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Teacher of the Year (TTOY) Program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. If selected, the TTOY becomes a spokesperson for public education and is honored at a special ceremony in Austin. The TTOY, a dedicated and highly skilled candidate who is capable of inspiring students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year honor.
Past NISD honorees include 2009-2010 Region 20 Elementary Teacher of the Year and TEA state finalist Maricela Alarcon (Burke Elementary School), 2007-2008 Region 20 Secondary Teacher of the Year Cesiah Boryczka (Warren High School) and 1980 Texas Teacher of the Year Peggy Carnahan (Jay High School).