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A Q&A with ATPE’s 2021 Associate Educator of the Year

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 8/19/2021

The Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year Awards recognize ATPE members who demonstrate exceptional or innovative capabilities in their respective educational fields. This year’s winners were honored during the 2021 ATPE Virtual Summit.

The 2021 Associate Educator of the Year Award was presented to Madonna Felan of Northside (20) ISD. Madonna has been a substitute teacher for the past three years after retiring from public education. She has been an ATPE member for 15 years.

ATPE reached out to Madonna to find out why making connections with students is so important.

What made you want to be an educator?
My mother was a teacher, and she enjoyed her job. I wanted to be a teacher but was hesitant. I joined the military and received a bachelor’s in accounting! When my spouse received orders to Panama, I joined him along with our two children. While there, I had the opportunity to teach at a private Panamanian school. I enjoyed it so much, and then I knew teaching was my calling. When we returned to the United States, I went back to college and became a certified teacher! I loved teaching so much that I became a substitute teacher after retiring!

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of being a substitute teacher is getting to meet so many great students and educators! I learn so much from being in different classrooms and different grade levels.

What is the most important thing you wish someone had told you when you started out in your career?
Take time to make connections with the students. As a substitute teacher this is important. Greet the students when they arrive, tell them a little about yourself, and give them a chance to share something about themselves. This makes the rest of the day go smoothly, and the students will want to make you and their teacher proud by trying their best.

What is the most important thing Texas educators can do for their profession?
Educators need to advocate for public education. They need to speak positively about their profession when in public. Encourage future educators by sharing the positive experiences of being an educator. Connect with legislators to provide input on legislation that is in the best interest of the students and supports public education. Most important of all, vote for legislators who will do what is best for public education!