Spring 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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18 | atpe news Dancing The 2016 Texas Teacher of the Year shares her motivations, her hopes for her students, and her unique approach to the classroom. with the Dafodils W hen 2016 Texas Teacher of the Year and Round Rock ATPE member Revathi Balakrishnan talks about her favorite poem, William Wordsworth's "The Dafodils," she becomes almost breathless with excitement. "It is the world's best poem, in my opinion," she says, glowingly. "I give it to my students every year." Balakrishnan, a talented and gifted (TAG) specialist at Patsy Sommer Elementary, was a systems analyst before she made the leap into education. She has been teaching both math and language arts for 10 years. In addition to teaching TAG courses for frst through ffth graders, Balakrishnan leads the school's robotics and coding clubs, and she headed up the chess club until her growing Teacher of the Year duties meant she had to prune her schedule. In keeping with her clear love of literature, Balakrishnan also coordinates student performances of Shakespeare; she even started the district's own Shakespeare festival, in which other Round Rock elementary schools participate. Growing up in India, Balakrishnan learned about the value of education from her philanthropic father. Despite having lived in the United States for more than 30 years, she still feels deeply connected to India and frequently works alongside her brother, who volunteers for Rotary International, to help fund projects that support education in her native country. One of Balakrishnan's true pleasures in life is sharing literature and poetry, like "The Dafodils," with her students. She hopes to inspire them to greater heights, as she herself was inspired by her brilliant but physically challenged grandfather. In addition to introducing her to Wordsworth, he taught her compassion and strength in difcult times. Balakrishnan works to instill these same lessons in her own students, and her greatest hope is that they, too, will serve as an inspiration to others. Interview by Leslie Trahan • Photos by Erica Fos

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