Abilene ISD names Pogue, Rico Teachers of the Year

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ABILENE, Texas (News Release) – Lee Elementary School third-grade teacher Chelsea Rico and Cooper High School English teacher Jimmy Pogue were honored Wednesday night as the Edwin and Agnes Jennings Teaching Excellence TLC Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, respectively, in the Abilene Independent School District.

The Abilene Education Foundation hosted its 8th annual Teacher in the Limelight Celebration via Zoom, recognizing teachers throughout the district for their work with the more than 16,500 students in the AISD. 

Pogue is a 30-year veteran of the AISD, all of them serving at CHS. He earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s in English and Literature from Hardin-Simmons University. 

As the longtime sponsor of the Cooper Student Council, Pogue has taken his last 17 StuCo groups to Chinle, Arizona, for a six-day learning service project with the Navajo Nation. The students, sponsors and volunteers deliver food, toys, blankets, clothes and animal feed to residents in the one of the nation’s poorest communities.

“He is a teacher who truly embodies what it means to be a leader,” Cooper principal Lyndsey Williamson said. “He not only tells his students what to do, but also walks the journey with them by example.”

For years, Pogue has also been the “Voice of the Cougars” for Cooper football games for more than 20 years after doing games for both Abilene High and Cooper on the radio and AISD-TV. He’s also called basketball, baseball and volleyball games and soccer matches for AISD-TV.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Pogue said upon learning of his honor. “This is totally unexpected. I’m really blessed to be a Cooper Cougar. We all stand on the shoulders of those came before us. There are great people in this district who work hard every day. I am proud to be a teacher; I love this job. It’s a calling every day.”

Rico is a third-grade teacher at Lee Elementary where she has taught for six years. She earned her bachelor’s degree at McMurry University and her master’s at the University of Texas-Arlington. 

Rico took the lead in organizing, directing and working at the 2nd annual Lee Fun Run last fall and said she believes that education is best performed through team efforts and the school community. 

A unit she teaches that best defines her as a teacher would be one she’s taught for several years called “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.” That story is about a porcelain rabbit that goes through a physical and emotional journey learning to love and depend on other while experiencing loss and heartache. 

The discussion about those sensitive topics provides students a unique way to share feelings, in addition to typically discovering they have classmates and family members who have been through similar situations.

“Thanks to my students because they are why I get up and do what I do every day,” Rico said. “Thank you to my principal (Andy Blessing) because I’ve received such great unique leadership opportunities at Lee Elementary.”

Both Rico and Pogue will now represent the AISD in the Texas Teacher of the Year competition. The first step in that is the Region XIV Teacher of the Year competition at both the elementary and secondary levels. A win there would send one or both on to the statewide competition.

Last year, both the Elementary Teacher of the Year (Molly Harless, Lee Elementary School) and Secondary Teacher of the Year (Kathy Ellison, Abilene High) won Region 14 Teacher of the Year to advance to the state competition.

There were other teachers honored Wednesday night, and here’s a list of those honorees:

Edwin and Agnes Jennings Teaching Excellence TLC Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year

• Elementary – Chelsea Rico (Lee Elementary School)

• Secondary – Jimmy Pogue (Cooper High School)

TLC Science Teacher of the Year

• Abilene High – Paula Everett

TLC Math Teacher of the Year

• Abilene High School – Laurie Harris

Campus Teacher Tributes

• Austin Elementary School – Libby Gibson

• Bassetti Elementary School – Emily Breninger

• Bonham Elementary School – Natalie Terry

• Bowie Elementary School – Jana Walker

• Dyess Elementary School – Lyndi Manning

• Jackson Elementary School – Richard Green

• Johnston Elementary School – Betty Poorman

• Lee Elementary School – Chelsea Rico

• Martinez Elementary School – Taylor Surles

• Ortiz Elementary School – Tara Nelson

• Reagan Elementary School – Lori Thompson

• Taylor Elementary School – Brandon’a Garcia

• Thomas Elementary School – Amy Kasberg

• Ward Elementary School – Taylor Wise

• Long Early Childhood – Sylvia Medina

• Clack Middle School – Renee Cobarruvias

• Craig Middle School – Kimberly Hancock

• Madison Middle School – Elaine Chapman

• Mann Middle School – Cara McDaniel

• Abilene High School – Les Bruce

• Abilene High School – Shea Lea Roberson

• ATEMS – Larry Haney

• Cooper High School – Melody Kennedy

• Cooper High School – Jimmy Pogue

• Holland Medical High School – Lisa Washington

Science Teacher Tributes

• Abilene High School – Paula Everett

• ATEMS – Julie Isenhower

• ATEMS – Tracy Long

• ATEMS – Dustin Rainwater

• Woodson Center for Excellence – Winter Smith

Math Teacher Tributes

• ATEMS – Stephanie Angell

• Craig Middle School – Shelly Brotherton

• ATEMS – Taylor Claxton

• Abilene High School – Laurie Harris

• Abilene High School – Carmen Horn

• ATEMS – Allison Stanley

Fine Arts Teacher of the Year

• Madison Middle School – Brady Nichols-Sloane

Future Shapers Award

• Ortiz Elementary School – Tara Nelson

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