Barbara Hoover, a math teacher at Dime Box Independent School District, will be presented the Texas A&M University Inspiration Award for Exceptional Education during Texas A&M University commencement ceremonies at 2 p.m. Friday (Aug. 14).
Teachers selected to receive this unusual award – believed to be the first of its type by any university in Texas – are nominated by one of their former students who are about to graduate from Texas A&M.
Recipients of the award are recognized during commencement ceremonies at the university, where they are presented checks for $2,000. Also, their high schools receive $1,000.
As a university known for valuing excellence, leadership and service, Texas A&M sponsors the award as a way of recognizing those values in the teachers who have inspired and challenged their students to excel.
Hoover was nominated for the award by one of her former students, Anne O'Toole, who is graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M. O’Toole will be formally presented her biomedical sciences degree by Hoover, a privilege normally reserved for the university’s president.
“As the teacher for all of the math classes, Ms. Hoover had five or six sets of lesson plans to prepare, lots of homework to grade, many tests to make and many students to teach,” O’Toole said in nominating her favorite teacher. “She also coached UIL math teams, sponsored several student organizations and managed an after-school program. When she wasn’t planning or grading, she could often be found showing her support for us by coming to our volleyball games or one-act play performances.”
O’Toole adds that Hoover cares deeply for her students and proved it when O’Toole had to have surgery during her senior year of high school. Hoover met with her in the evenings to help her with calculus so she wouldn’t fall behind and lose her class status as valedictorian.
“I am truly flattered whenever a student returns from college and thanks me for preparing them in math,” Hoover said. “Anne is an exceptional student. She is always focused and has an internal drive to be the best she can be. I think that comes from her deep faith in God.”
Hoover adds that O’Toole had set a goal to win the State UIL mathematics contest when the surgery set her back and she was not well enough to study for the contest. After the surgery,she was able to complete Calculus AB and make the top grade possible on the Calculus AB Advanced Placement Exam.
“She was an inspiration to me her senior year as she came to class and did her best while sitting on a ‘donut’ cushion due to her hurting back,” Hoover added.
“It is not true that smaller schools have less to offer than larger schools,” O’Toole emphasized. “Thanks to Ms. Hoover, I entered Texas A&M with a 750 on the math portion of my SAT and was well prepared academically for the math classes that were ahead of me.”