Orange County teachers highlighted for classroom excellence share their education philosophies

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Tammi Halliburton said she truly loves what she does.

“Being an educator allows frequent opportunities for me to share my love of reading with students,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to inspire students to see the potential in and enjoyment from reading and to expand their imaginations to exciting new capacities. I am extremely grateful. It is an overwhelming feeling to be recognized for doing what I love.”

Halliburton’s recent recognition is as one of 15 recipients of the 2022 Wayne A. Reaud Excellence in Education Award.

“Education is the key to a better future and great teachers are the key to education,” Wayne A. Reaud, Chairman of the Board, stated.

“Our winners are outstanding representatives of excellence in education.”

Teachers are first nominated by their campus committees. The winners are selected by the Beaumont Foundation and will be honored at a May 17 awards banquet. Each will receive $10,000 in recognition of exemplary contribution to the lives of their students.

Orange County award winners include Halliburton, Tammy Taylor of Vidor Junior High School and Sally Rost of Orangefield High School.

Halliburton is a fifth grade reading, language arts and social studies teacher in Little Cypress-Mauiveville Consolidated Independent School District. She has been a teacher for 11 years.

High School Principal Rea Wrinkle is seen with geometry teacher Sally Rost. (Photo courtesy OFISD)

Sally Rost

Rost is a geometry teacher at Orangefield High School and has been there 17 years.

“Teaching is so much more than the subject that you teach,” Rost said. “I have always felt like you can know the material better than anyone else, but the students are not going to learn it if you don’t have a relationship with them. It is funny that I recently heard my dad give a speech at his retirement celebration that spoke of the importance of relationships, as well. Maybe that is where I get it from.”

Rost said the teachers she learned the most from were those she truly loved and felt like really cared about her.

“I have always tried to make sure my students knew that no matter what they are important to me,” she said. “I care about them, and my classroom is a safe place for them. Most kids will work and be successful when they know that someone really cares. I try to make sure that each one of them knows they are special.”

At the end of the year, Rost writes a letter to each of her students, highlighting their special qualities.

“For some it is their drive, strong academic strengths and skills in the classroom,” she said. “For others, it is their ability to work with others, to show compassion or their determination to make the world around them better.”

She tries to invest in her students’ lives outside the classroom, as well.

“I do my best to attend their games, take in the occasional rodeo, where they are roping steer, attend their performances for theater arts, show up for band contests, and have even participated as their confirmation sponsor at church,” Rost said. “I participate in pep rallies, where I have been known to dance with the Sophisticates, dress up as Glenda the Good Witch or try to eat a cookie off my face without my hands.

“I’ve taken them to volunteer with the Bridge City/Orangefield Ministerial Alliance and the Specials Angels Rodeo, where I hope I have taught them compassion for others. The greatest reward I will have at the end of my life is that I will know I did my best to be a positive influence in as many of my students’ lives as possible. I hope that they will all remember how much I loved them and that I will always want what is best for them. I’ve been called mom or “Momma Rost” on more than one occasion, but I think it is just because they know I will do what I can to always help them and support them beyond the year that I teach them.”

UPDTAE: Taylor shares her thoughts on teaching and best practices.

Award history

The Wayne A. Reaud Excellence in Education Award was created to celebrate and recognize superior contributions of teachers whose leadership and dedication inspire a spirit of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Fifteen teachers are selected annually to receive this prestigious award in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the education system of Southeast Texas.

Reaud Excellence in Education candidates must have completed five years teaching experience, be a full-time classroom teacher at a public or non-public school in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Tyler, Jasper or Newton County, whose responsibility is the direct instruction of students and complete the Foundation’s application packet.

— By Sierra Kondos