Chrissy Amerson, a Cade Middle School English language arts teacher, has been named a finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year.

"It's surreal," Amerson said. "I tried very hard with the essays; I poured a lot of thought into them."

Amerson wrote five essays as part of the application process for the Texas Association of School Administrators' teaching competition.

Travis Middle School in Port Lavaca, where she taught last year, nominated her.

"To be honored is a big deal," Amerson said. "I'm thankful and grateful for this opportunity."

The former Travis Middle School teacher said she draws her motivation for teaching from her late mother, who taught in public school for more than 30 years.

"I know she is dancing and beaming with pride from above," Amerson said. "She honestly deserves all the credit and is the reason I am in this position."

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from teacher organizations and last year's finalists. Interviews are scheduled for Sept. 13, and the top winners will be named at an awards ceremony Oct. 24 in Austin.

Jill Lau, Cade Middle School principal, said she was eager to hire Amerson right from the start.

"She shows her passion each and every day," Lau said. "She brings excellence to grade-level teaching."

Chance Jones, a seventh-grade student at Cade, said Amerson's upbeat style of instruction keeps him excited about a subject he has struggled to find interesting in the past.

During the first few days of classes, Chance made up a word - "acknowlegementation," which Amerson has accepted as Chance's group's team name.

"She gets really into it," Chance, 12, said. "She makes class non-boring."

At the start of her classes, Amerson likes to play music to get the students relaxed and thinking creatively.

This week, she played songs like "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War and "One Love" by Bob Marley.

When students start to get antsy, Amerson encourages them to stretch and move around in class.

"I like to use the whole body," Amerson said. "I don't think any person should have to sit in a seat for eight hours. I believe in the need to get up and move around."

Story courtesy of The Victoria Advocate