State, National Honors for UH Student Teacher

Jason Spencer Awards Recognize Creativity, Innovation in Teaching Style

Jason Spencer, a high school student-teacher and graduate student at the University of Houston's College of Education, has been named the State Student Teacher of the Year by the Texas Directors of Field Experiences, and the National Student Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Teacher Educators and Kappa Delta Pi.

"I am extremely humbled by the fact that the educational community recognizes a quality in my teaching that they feel deserves praise," said Spencer, who is part of the college's QUEST (Quality Urban Education for Students and Teachers) program. "I've attempted to break away from classroom norms. We can no longer expect students of the 21st century to feel a sense of belonging in a 20th-century classroom."

Spencer is teaching English and grammar at Mirabeau Lamar High School in Houston.

To apply for the award consideration, he submitted lesson plans that included a Jeopardy-style game to teach about Romanticism in poetry. Spencer says the electronic age has surpassed the age of the lecture.

"These awards acknowledge that teachers are hungry for novelty just as much as students are," he said.

The college's QUEST program provides opportunities for teacher candidates to become critical thinkers and problem solvers by working with professionals and students in classroom settings. Future teachers learn with the latest research-based strategies and modern technologies and participate in early and continued field experiences.

"Jason has been an exceptional teacher candidate because he has been able to translate instructional theory, methods and ideas into productive and creatively designed teaching," said Professor Vera Hutchison, chair of the UH department of curriculum and instruction."His teaching style excites students and allows them to become critical thinkers."

Both awards recognize a student teacher who demonstrates an ability to plan and develop classroom management skills and instructional strategies that consider the needs of all students. Also acknowledged is a rapport with students, parents, faculty and staff that promotes an effective learning environment.

"The QUEST program is extremely important in training future teachers," said Eileen Westerman, visiting assistant professor and director of field experiences. "Jason is the second consecutive National Student Teacher of the Year from UH. Candidates from the QUEST program have won the State of Texas Student Teacher of the Year award three out of the last four years."

For more information on the QUEST program, visit

For more information on the UH College of Education, visit