Schieffer named CHS9 Teacher of the Year


CHS9 biology teacher Hilary Schieffer was recognized as Teacher of the Year on Dec. 1 in the CHS9 Library. Schieffer was surprised by her parents who flew in from Iowa. Photo courtesy Cody Koontz

Sruthi Lingam, CHS9 Visual Media Editor

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version.

On Dec. 1, CHS9 biology teacher Hilary Schieffer was announced as the 2022-23 teacher of the year. 

“It was a surprise, just because of how young in my career I am,” Schieffer said. “I didn’t expect to be named teacher of the year.”

This year is Schieffer’s fourth year of teaching, with her career at CHS9 beginning in 2019.

On the morning of the announcement, Schieffer’s family flew in from Iowa and hid in the back of the library to surprise her.

“My mom is also a teacher, so it meant more to see her there because I followed in her footsteps,” Schieffer said.

Two weeks leading up to the announcement, five teacher of the year nominees were recognized: English teachers Deb Sartin and Erin Begle, math teacher James Behlen, health science teacher Amber Fragosa Deck and Hilary Schieffer.

“We recognize our nominees beforehand because we want all of our nominees to know how important it is to be nominated,” CHS9 Principal Cody Koontz said.

The selection process for teacher of the year in CISD is made up of anonymous nominations and takes place over the course of a couple months. 

“We open up a window where we allow our staff to nominate anyone that they feel is deserving of being teacher of the year, and once that’s done, one of our assistant principals compile all those nominations and redacts all of the identifying information about who the individual is,” Koontz said.

The nominations include detailed responses about how the teachers engage their students and their ability to create an authentic learning experience in the classroom. Next, the scoring committee, made up of administrators, teachers, parents and community members, uses a rubric provided by the district to rank nominees in different categories.

“We really liked [Schieffer’s] energy, her excitement, and passion for biology and teacher,” Koontz said. “She’s a really innovative teacher, always looking for new ways to connect material with our kids and to make content relevant.”

Schieffer pursued biology in college and found her love for teaching through a coaching experience. 

“I love science, it was something I loved growing up,” Schieffer said. “I took what I loved doing with science and put it together with coaching to become a teacher.”

Schieffer hopes to become an instructional coach later on in her career, after transitioning from classroom teaching.

“Her greatest skill as a teacher is understanding her students and the ability to make them feel safe and comfortable in her class,” freshman Varuni Saranu said. “I was not surprised when she received the award because she really deserves it, with all the work she puts in. It’s a really big accomplishment, and I’m really happy for her.”

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