ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene ISD teacher is a finalist for the 2024 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Taniece Thompson-Smith, a fifth-grade science teacher at Stafford Elementary School, is one of three finalists in the division, along with Isela Russell from Lewisville ISD and Genesis Yougas from McKinney ISD.

Courtesy of the Texas Association of School Administrators

Thompson-Smith has taught for 14 years. As a military spouse, she has taught in more than seven school districts across America, Jamaica, and Japan. She is a mentor speaker for 75 middle and high school girls and has led district-level professional development workshops. She has been awarded the 2023 Region 14 Elementary Teacher of the Year and the 2022 Abilene ISD Teacher of the Year for her excellence in teaching.

On Thursday, each finalist will appear for an interview before a panel comprising representatives of educational leadership associations, a member of the State Board for Educator Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, community leaders, and prior Texas Teachers of the Year.

The Texas Teachers of the Year program has been recognizing outstanding classroom educators since 1969 with the goal of honoring and recognizing teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and teaching excellence.

The award ceremony will take place on Friday, October 20, at the Kalahari Convention Center in Round Rock, Texas. The event will honor not only the Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and the Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year but also the 40 Regional Teachers of the Year.